Still a pleasure to drive after 24 years

Still a pleasure to drive after 24 years

When Scania put a 1992-vintage Streamline 143 head-to-head with a New Generation Scania S 500 in independent test drives, the improvements in terms of fuel consumption and emissions were clear cut. But the Series 3 classic still stood up well when it came to driving feel, according to one of the test drivers.

Fuel consumption accounts for a significant proportion of running costs for all truck operators. This means that there’s considerable impetus to achieve ever higher levels of fuel efficiency.

The new generation S 500 lines up with the 1992-edition Streamline 143, ready for a head-to-head test at Nynäsvägen, south of Stockholm.Mikael Ullen

“Statistics show that fuel consumption has dropped by 1.3 percent a year since 2004 when we compare vehicles used in more or less the same way,” says Henrik Wentzel, a senior engineer at Scania. “At the same time, nitrogen oxide emissions have dropped significantly and constantly sit under the tough compulsory threshold. However, because pre-2004 vehicles didn’t have fuel and emissions monitoring systems, we don’t have figures for before this.”

Rather than guessing about the development over longer periods of time, Scania decided to ask powertrain-testing company AVL to conduct an independent test. The company measured fuel consumption and nitrogen oxide emissions over six identical 140-kilometre test drives of a 25-year-old Streamline 143 and a newly manufactured New Generation Scania S 500.

Scania 143

Both vehicles were designed for lumber transport and had 500 hp engines. The older truck had a V8 engine with a displacement of 14 litres, while the new truck had a straight six with a displacement of 13 litres. Despite its smaller size, the new engine was more powerful at all engine speeds.

Test engineer Peter Östberg makes some last-minute checks to the 143.Mikael Ullen

“We did it this way [using a straight six] because today’s V8s don’t come in such small sizes and we wanted to have as fair a comparison as possible,” says Wentzel.

The test drives took place at the beginning of February 2017. The 143 had hardly been driven previously as it was an exhibit at the Scania museum in Södertälje. Apart from a ­necessary update of the tyres, it was effectively in the same mint condition as the S 500. During testing, the vehicles were driven at 85 km/h on the same stretch of road, at the same time, and by the same two drivers. They had the same cargo weight, which gave the new vehicle an advantage as it was lighter overall. Scania chose this method as it reflects the increased efficiency of modern vehicles.

The drivers were forced to swap between the two vehicles so that the test results wouldn’t be influenced by who was driving. The fact that the drivers were – just by chance – father and son, Johan and Lucas Remmert, seemed almost symbolic.

“The 3-series was a trip down memory lane for me,” says Johan Remmert who has driven trucks since the 1980s. “This was one of the trucks you really looked up to in the 1990s, and it actually stands up very well. It has real pick up in the lower gear range. And of course, there’s still a few out on the roads.”

Scania was merged with Saab between 1969 and 1995.Mikael Ullen

Johan Remmert continues, “Obviously, the new truck is better in terms of noise and comfort, but at the same time, it feels a bit like the driver just goes along with the truck. In the 143, you’re really driving the truck; you need to listen to the revs and change gear. You enjoy it in a different way. If I wanted to take a nice Sunday drive, then I’d take the old truck.”

Test-drive results

Lucas Remmert, who wasn’t born when the 143 was produced, adds, “The oldest truck I’d driven up until now was a 2000 model. But I felt this one went really well, even if I do prefer the new one.”

The test results show that in the 24 years between the production of the two trucks, fuel consumption fell by about 25 percent. Nitrogen oxide, meanwhile, fell by 95 percent.

“It’s confirmation that the improvements that we are gradually introducing produce consistent results over time,” says Wentzel. “That’s the way it is with the development of diesel engines. There’s no revolutionary fix for everything, and instead it’s all about working hard on the details.”

He points to a long list of factors behind the change. Engines have become more efficient, as well having greater torque and power for their size. Aerodynamics have been improved, automated gear boxes reduce fuel consumption, rear axle ratios are lower, lubrication of gear sets is better, and curb weights are lower.

“Although, in terms of power, the Streamline 143 still works well today,” Johan Remmert maintains.

Exhibit at work

In 1991, a new ı4-litre diesel engine with 500 hp electronic diesel control (EDC) hit the market. Due to its higher compression ratio of 17:1 and the introduction of EDC, the engine complied with the new emission regulation Euro 1 that was introduced in Europe in 1993.

To cope with the new engine’s high torque, the new 12 speed range-splitter gearbox grs 900 was introduced together with ASR (automatic anti-slip regulation).

“It’s the truck of an epoch. It features some of the great technical progressions,” says Robert Bengtsson, Museum Technician at Scania Södertälje.

When it comes to the design, the forward-controlled Streamline cab was big news. The cab had very low air resistance with a drag coefficient value of 0.5 percent – a reduction of 12 to 15 percent compared to the previous cab – which lowered the fuel consumption by 4 to 5 percent.

Now part of Scania’s museum in Södertälje, this particular truck was purchased by Lönnerhedens Åkeri in 1991 and began its service in 1992. The truck journeyed 1,090,000 kilometres, mainly carrying pulpwood in the south of Sweden.

The engine and the gearbox are still the original versions.

Act sheet

Type: R143

Axle distance: 4.60 metres

Gear box: GRS 900

Engine: 14-litre engine with EDC

Power (max): 500 hp

Torque (max): 2,130 Nm

Scania 3-series

The 3-series won Truck of the Year in 1989.

The Scania Museum was established in 1971 and has around 80 exhibits, including trucks, buses, cars, engines, bicycles and train wagons.

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