Historic Truck Brands


Scania is a major Swedish manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses. It also manufactures diesel engines for heavy vehicles, as well as for marine and general industrial applications.

AB Scania-Vabis was established in 1911 as the result of a merger between Stockholm’s Södertälje-based Vabis and Malmö-based Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania. Vagnfabriks Aktiebolaget i Södertelge (Vabis) had been established as a railway car manufacturer in 1891, while Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania was a bicycle manufacturer from 1900. Both companies had begun building automobiles, trucks and engines. 

In 1910, Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania had succeeded in constructing reliable vehicles, while Vabis was at the brink of closing down. 

The merged Scania-Vabis companies put development and production of engines and light vehicles in Södertälje, while trucks were manufactured in Malmö.

The company’s logo was a combination of Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania’s original logo with the head of a griffin – the coat of arms of the Swedish region Scania (Skåne)-  and a three-spoke bicycle chainset. Initially, the headquarters were located in Malmö, but in 1912 they were moved to Södertälje.

The truck models were 1.5-3.0-tonners, with Vabis 30-70hp engines.

Because there were many inexpensive, imported cars in Sweden at the time, Scania-Vabis also decided to build high-class, luxury cars, but the company’s profits stagnated, with around a third of their orders coming from abroad.

The outbreak of the First World War changed the company’s direction, with almost all output being bought by the Swedish Army and profits soared. One Wartime product was four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steer light truck, with four propellor shafts running to each wheel.

Following the War, Scania-Vabis decided to focus completely on building trucks, abandoning other outputs, including cars and buses, and an early V8 engine was developed. 

However, the market was swamped with decommissioned military vehicles from the War and by 1921 the company was bankrupt. Help came from Stockholm’s Enskilda Bank, owned by the Wallenberg family and Scania-Vabis became a well-financed truck and bus manufacturing company.

In 1923 came the first 6×4, with a double-reduction drive tandem and new 36hp and 50hp Vabis engines.

A fledgling Hessleman-Scania 65hp diesel engine was introduced in 1930, using petrol warm up and oil operation, in a similar way to some British paraffin engines of the period.

Car production ended in 1928, but new truck and bus models benefitted from a progressive-rate spring design and buses had ford-engine positions, thanks to a new ‘narrow’ engine design.

In 1929, Scania-Vabis developed a track-rear, ski-front vehicle for all-year postal deliveries. 

In 1936 the first pure-diesel Scania-Vabis engine was released. This 120hp displaced 7.8 litres and was quickly followed by four-, six- and eight-cylinder, direct-injection types. These engines became the ‘D’ series after World War Two and were turbocharged from 1951.

During the Second World War Scania produced a variety of military vehicles for the Swedish Army, including Stridsvagn M/41 light tanks produced under licence.

During the 1950s, the company re-entered the passenger segment, becoming agents for the Willys Jeep and the Volkswagen Beetle. Scania-Vabis also became a genuine competitor to Volvo with the release of the L71 Regent truck in 1954.

By the end of the 1950s, the Scania-Vabis truck and bus market share in Sweden was between 40 and 50 percent and was 70-percent of the heavy-truck truck sector. Exports had multiplied from 10-percent of output to 50-percent. In 1956, Scania-Vabis was producing more than 4500 truck and bus chassis per annum.

In the 1960s, Scania-Vabis expanded production into overseas locations. Brazil was becoming a notable market for heavy trucks and was also dependent on inter-urban buses, with particular requirement for Brazil’s mountainous roads which became almost impassable at times. In 1957, Brazilian subsidiary Scania-Vabis do Brasil SA began assembling some vehicles themselves and in 1959 a new engine plant was inaugurated.

Based on its strong presence in the Dutch market, Scania-Vabis constructed a new plant in Zwolle, which was completed in 1964.

For years Daimler-Benz claimed a possible confusion between the Scania-Vabis ‘pedal crank’ design that featured on Scania bicycles from around 1900 and the Mercedes ‘three-pointed star’. In 1968, Daimler-Benz won and the Scania-Vabis logo changed to a simple griffin’s head on a white background.

In February 1968, a new range of trucks was launched, and at the same time the company was rebranded as just Scania. In addition to Vabis disappearing from the name and the new logo, all models were given new designations.

In 1969, in a move that seemed like a good idea at the time, Scania merged with Saab AB, and formed Saab-Scania AB – a marriage that lasted until 1995.

In 1976 an Argentinian industrial complex was opened and the first gearbox made outside Sweden was manufactured.

In mid-1985 Scania entered the US market, exploiting a reputation built from Scania’s export of 12,000 diesel engines that were installed in some Mack trucks from 1962 until 1975. Scania limited their marketing to the Northeast, where conditions resembled those in Europe more closely.

The beginning of the end of Scania’s independence began in 1999, when Volvo announced it had agreed to acquire a majority share in Scania. Volvo intended to buy the 49.3-percent stake in Scania that was owned by Investor AB, Scania’s then main shareholder, with the cash for the deal coming from the sale of Volvo’s car division to Ford Motor Company.

However, the merger failed, after the European Union disapproved, pointing out that one company would have almost 100-percent share of the Nordic markets.

The next attack came in 2006, when MAN AG launched a hostile offer that was later dropped, but in 2008, MAN increased its voting rights in Scania up to 17 percent.

Volkswagen Group gained ownership of Scania by first buying Volvo’s stake in 2000, after the latter’s aborted takeover attempt, increasing it to 36.4 percent in 2007. It then bought out Investor AB in March 2008, raising its share to 70.94 percent. The clincher came when VW Group took over control of MAN in 2011 that included MAN’s 17-percent of Scania. By January 2015, Volkswagen controlled all the shares in Scania AB.


Scania truck models

The model history looks like this: CLb/CLc (1911−27); DLa (1911−26); ELa (1912−26); FLa (1911−24); GLa (1914−23); 314/324/325 (1925−36); 335/345/355 (1931−44); L10/F10/L40/F40/L51 Drabant (1944−59); L20/L60/L71 Regent (1946−58); L75/L76/LB76 (1958−68); L55/L56/L66 (1959−68); L36 (1964−68); 50, 80, 85, 110, 140 (1968−74); 81, 86, 111, 141 (1974−81); 2-series: 82, 92, 112, 142 (1980−88); 3-series: 93, 113, 143 (1987−97) and 4-series: 94, 114, 124, 144, 164 (1995−2004).


Scania buses

Scania’s bus and coach model range concentrated on chassis, intended for use with anything between tourist coaches to city traffic, but since the 1950s, it has manufactured complete buses as well.

Scania-Vabis was involved in bus production from its earliest days, producing mail buses in the 1920s.

In 1946, the company introduced the B-series bus chassis, with the engine mounted above the front-axle, giving a short front overhang and the door behind the front-axle. The first generation consisted of the B15/B16, the B20/B21/B22 and the B31.The latter became upgraded in 1948 and renamed 2B20/2B21/2B22 and 3B31. The T31/T32 trolleybus chassis was also available from 1947. 

In 1950 came the next generation B41/B42, the B61/B62/B63/B64 and later the B83. Scania-Vabis also offered the BF-series chassis, available as BF61/BF62/BF63, which had the engine mounted in front of the front-axle, leaving room for the door in a longer front overhang. 

From 1954, the B-series came as B51 and B71, and the BF as BF71 and later BF73. In 1959, the B55, B65 and B75, plus the BF75 were introduced, and were from 1963 available as B56, B66 and B76, plus the BF56 and BF76.

Before the rebranding to Scania in 1968, Scania-Vabis delivered a very limited number of CR76 chassis with transversally rear-mounted engine for external bodying. From 1968 it was also delivered as a standard bus chassis known as BR110.

The other chassis models were renamed too, so the Scania-Vabis B56/B76 became the Scania B80/B110 and the BF56/BF76 became BF80/BF110. 

In 1971, a new range of longitudinally mounted rear-engined chassis was launched, with the BR85 and its larger brother, the V8-powered 14-litre BR145, targeted at the coach market.

In 1976, many of the models were renewed, and designations were upped from 80 and 85 to 86, and from 110 to 111, except for the BR145 that was replaced by the BR116 in 1978.

The BR112 was launched in 1978 as a forerunner to the 2-series, replacing the BR111. The rest of the 2-series were launched in 1981 with the F82/F112 replacing the BF86/BF111 and the S82/S112 replacing the B86/B111, and then in 1982 the K82/K112 replacing the BR86/BR116. 

The BR112 was updated to the N112 in 1984 and a three-axle version of the K112 became the K112T. In 1985, the K82 and F82 were replaced by the 8.5-litre engined K92 and F92. Front-engined versions were discontinued for European markets in the mid-1980s, but production continued in Brazil.

In 1988, the 3-series was introduced, continuing the main models of the 2-series. In 1990, the new L113 became available, with a longitudinally rear-mounted engine inclined 60° to the left, to lower its height. 

The 4-series was launched in 1997, continuing characteristics from the 3-series, but as modular configurations of the basic chassis. The 8.5-litre engine was replaced by a nine-litre, and the 11-litre was replaced by an 11.7-litre. They were joined by a 10.6-litre engine in 2000.

From 2006, Scania’s bus and coach range was marketed as the K-series, N-series and F-series, based on the engine position.

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