From looking out on the highways these days most long-haul trucks have conventional cabs. What I remember as a kid it seems that cabover (flat nose) trucks were much more common.
Most of the cabover trucks I see are the smaller delivery-type vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Fuso and the Isuzu NPR and not generally used for long-hauls or over-the-road operatons.
Secondly, why no cabover pickup trucks? To me full-size cargo vans such as the Chevrolet Express and Ford Econoline are essentially cabover trucks, but you never see them with a pickup bed. Sure, it would look funny, but I think only because we are not accustomed to seeing that partucular body configuration. There is no reason it can’t be done, however.
So, why no cabovers?
Oh, and I am aware of the old air-cooled Volkswagen Bus with the pickup bed, but technically they aren’t cabovers because the engine is in the back above the rear axel. I like that design and it’s what got me to thinking about this subject.
I guess it’s just asthetics. People just like conventional cabs more, but I have a feeling there is more to it than that. Any ideas?
I have no cite, but I seem to recall that cabovers were a reaction to a length limit for trucks. The conventional “nosed” tractor, if used with a trailer of a certain longer length, would exceed the length limit. But cabovers were able to use the longer trailers and remain within the limit.
I also heard that length limits have been lifted–for a single trailer anyway; many jurisdictions do not allow double trailers. But supposedly, the lifting of the length limit has led to the decline of cabovers.
But does anybody know for sure if there’s any truth to the “cabovers developed due to length limit” theory?
This is how it was explained to me by some European truckers when I asked this question. I haven’t seen anything but a cab-over there, though there was one man who was an organizer in a truck show and the few “American”-style rigs were a big deal to him. In the US, I know UPS’ tractors seem to be cab-over–they often pull doubles and the length seems to matter.
As a former commercial truck driver I can say without a doubt that a conventional truck rides much better than a cab over. That is just a basic fact of physics. If the rider sits between the front and rear wheels the up and down movement from a dip or bump in the road is not as much as it directly above the front(or rear) wheels. If you are sitting in front of the front axle, as some cab overs do, that makes the ride even worse.
OTOH a cabover with its shorter wheel base is more maneuverable. Another thing to keep in mind, a long haul truck driver who lives in their cab over has to turn their home just about on its side to do anything to the engine.
I was also told, but have no cite, that the cabover became popular because of overall length restrictions which were lifted before I became a driver.
I have heard (but am somewhat dubious) that the aerodynamics of the “long nose” trucks are better than the COEs. Nearly every pick up truck maker has offered a COE model at one time or another. GM had a Corvair version, Jeep had one, and, IIRC, Studebaker did as well.
Yeah I have always loved the cab-over look. That one you linked to looks like an evil, intimidating face, or the front of a gas mask or something like that. The older ones with elaborate stripe jobs in multiple colors just look classy.
In big rigs the major factor is probably driver comfort and access. Modern OTR tractors are equipped w/ fridges, closets, drawers, desks, TV/VCR, and many other amenities. Most COE designs have an engine cover (doghouse) which requires that the driver must crawl over it to access the bunk. They have no room to stand up for getting dressed/undressed, nor easy access to the appliances. Some extra long “sleepers” even have toilets, showers, galleys, sofas, etc., but those are mostly used only for special purpose where weight is not a factor. Engine access is another big factor. Those big hoods are almost all fibreglas and easily tilt forward to expose the engine and other servicable components. With a COE you must jack up the entire cab to get engine access.
Length restrictions have been eased for single trailer rigs and sloped hoods have improved areodynamics for conventional (hooded) tractors.
I would take exception w/ the ride being much different between conventionals and COE’s, modern suspension systems have probably eliminated any noticable difference.
You still see many conventional tractors w/ the massive square hood and, IMHO, that’s primarily due to the macho phallic symbolism, but what do I know, I was only out there on the boulevard for 24 years. :rolleyes:
Not so much for bigger trucks, but for the smaller pickups, could it be that with the engine so close to the cabin they don’t pass modern crash tests?
I once rode a big cabover. The sensation when it makes a sharp turn is just weird. You feel like you are moving sideways (actually you are). The kind of stuff that leaves a lasting impression on a 9-year old kid.
Cabovers were a nuisance for the driver, for a lot of the reasons listed by other posters above – handling, engine access, interior space, and so on – but since when have the companies cared about the driver’s convenience? The major reason for the decline of cabovers is that they have slightly better aerodynamics, and when you’re running a fleet of 500 trucks that cover 500,000 km/year each, even a miniscule improvement in fuel economy translates into big bucks. Now that’s something the companies care about!
I’ve driven P/U trucks w/ the cab over design, it’s kind of cool sitting ahead of the front wheels, definitely a different sensation, but it often occurs to you that your only protection is a bit of sheet metal and glass.
You haven’t taken a look at the industry dynamics lately. Companies are have great difficulty attracting, and retaining, drivers. They are very sensitive to driver comfort and convenience, just not in getting them home very often, or for very long. As far as handling goes, I’ll take a COE every time.
Heh. I knew a cinematographer who had a cabover Nissan. He was very protective of his camera, and rather than carrying it in the back of the truck he always carried it in the cab. One day after a shoot he stopped at a gas station. He was as meticulous with his vehicle as he was with his filmmaking equipment, so while he was stopped he made a routine oil check. He had to take the camera out of the cab so that he could lift the cab. Miles down the road he noticed the camera was not in the cab. He assumed his (adult) son had packed it. His son hadn’t. By the time they got back to the gas station his camera was gone.