Dedicated truck mechanic Telmo Abreu keeps Scania vehicles on the road – and on the race track – in the USA.
Rising and descending roars of revving engines, puffs of exhaust, a flashed green light and they’re off! Barrelling down the track, Telmo Abreu’s souped-up Scania V8 eats tarmac while drag-racing another diesel cab at the US Diesel Trucking Nationals in Englishtown, New Jersey. His truck covers the quarter-mile (402-metre) distance in an astonishing 14 seconds.
Abreu has raced Scania trucks in the US since 1992, but his love of the company’s vehicles goes back even further.
Before moving to New Jersey from his native Portugal in 1986, Abreu drove the Swedish make while working in Europe. (Scania trucks were introduced to the American market in 1985 and were sold until 1992.) He fell in love with their power, so after a period of working in construction projects, he opened his own garage and repair shop in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Abreu soon earned a reputation as a mechanic who knew his way around a truck, especially a Scania.
“I worked on all types of Scanias back then,” he recalls. “The 112, 113, 142, 143…almost all of the different models available in the US.”
“The demand for Scania in the US is still out there”
It wasn’t long before Abreu bought his first Scania, and then another. In short order, Abreu Truck Service was in possession of 40 Scania trucks, hiring them out for all types of construction and demolition jobs. In 1992, due to factors such as differing US/European regulations and parts, Scania stopped selling trucks in the US market. For Abreu, it was a sad year.
“If my company was just a little bigger, maybe Scania would still be selling in the US,” he says lamentably. “We could sell a lot of those trucks!”
However, the lack of newly imported vehicles hasn’t stopped Abreu from collecting, rebuilding and selling older Scania trucks still scattered across the US. His garage has put about 300 Scania trucks back into circulation, and it provides parts for the new owners, too. Increasing demand for the shop’s services prompted a move to a new, two-acre (8,000 square-metre) facility in Newark, New Jersey, in 2004. While Abreu doesn’t work exclusively with Scania trucks, he does love the company’s products.
“I just rebuilt a T113,” he says proudly, “and sold it very quickly. Then we got some Scania tractors renovated, and they sold, too. The demand for Scania in the US is still out there.”
And then there’s the drag racing. Every September Abreu enters his turbocharged T112 (he calls it “the T999”), fitted with a V8, a 4-series bonnet and 2-series cab. He challenges any and all comers at the US Diesel Trucking Nationals to race his truck, usually the only Scania racing in the event. Abreu Truck Services also brings three or four renovated Scania trucks to show off the company’s mechanical and customisation skills.
During the drag race, vehicles compete two at a time, side by side, and travel in a straight line toward the finish line at the established distance down the track. Eager crowds watch Abreu’s white-and-fuchsia truck do its characteristic “burnout” – a procedure that heats the tyres, in which the wheels spin but the truck stays put – filling the air with smoke before easing up to the starting line. This year, Abreu wants to win the championship.
“I just took the engine apart in the T999 and put in a new turbo to allow more air,” he says. “This September, we’ll be ready.”
Scania in the US
- Today, Scania is present in the industrial and marine engine markets (about 30,000 in US circulation)
- Trucks first introduced to US market in 1985; last truck delivered in 1992
- During the same period, Scania city buses were built in Connecticut
- 700 trucks sold during that time
- Limited range of trucks offered
- Some of the reasons for the US pull-out (valid for trucks as well as buses): differing US/European regulations; “Buy American” sentiments; and Scania’s vertically integrated model clashed with US industry practices