The art of building a legend

The art of building a legend

A V8 engine is a functional work of art. From the foundry furnace in Germany to the parquet floor of the assembly hall in Södertälje, every production step involves modular design, tailor-made solutions, environmental considerations and constant quality assurance.
Since 1969 Scania has manufactured more than 250,000 V8 engines. Each one of them is unique, adapted for a particular truck and to the wishes of a particular customer.

Not just anyone can be trusted to build the heart of the “King of the Road”. V8 engine blocks are cast with the highest precision at Halberg Guss, a high-quality foundry in Leipzig, Germany − a city with a long, proud tradition of engineering excellence. The foundrymen of Leipzig began acquiring their reputation as early as the 1880s.

The assembly line for the V8 engines is designed to give the employees a sustainable working environment.Carl-Erik Andersson

The V8 engine blocks are then driven by truck to Scania in Södertälje, Sweden, for machining before they reach the specially built assembly line, where every production step has been designed in collaboration with Scania’s research and development department. There is a constant focus on quality assurance. The engines must be easy to assemble and the fitters’ working environment must be structured in a way that prevents incorrect assembly.

There are many steps in the V8 production process designed to prevent mistakes:

When the engine block arrives at a station, everything is in place and prepared, like in an operating theatre. A “server” has delivered tools, fuel filters, rocker arms, bearing brackets and everything else that is needed. The fitter can focus entirely on the assembly process.

Electrical tools for tightening bolts will not let the engine pass further down the line if a single bolt has not been sufficiently tightened. The tools keep track of parameters such as the number of revolutions each bolt has turned, the number of bolts used and the tightening torque applied. A computer linked to the tools monitors the whole process and ensures that everything is done properly. The results are displayed on a monitor for the fitters to check.

Optical readers scan colour codes on the pistons. In this way, the pistons are fitted in exactly the right position.

V8 engine blocks are cast with the highest precision at Halberg Guss, a high-quality foundry in Leipzig, Germany.Dan Boman

Some components, such as fuel-system components, are pressed into place on the engine with the use of quick-release couplings. The result is a simpler and more precise connection.

Cable markings show exactly where wiring clamps are to be fitted, making it easier to install wiring, since the fitter knows in advance where each attachment point is located.

The V8 line has a total of 25 stations. Only one – the heavy job of torque-tightening for the cylinder heads and other components – is fully automated.Carl-Erik Andersson

Engine On Line is a concept for managing all V8 engine deviations, which are reported directly to the V8 assembly line. Its main purpose is to allow real-time reactions and begin corrections immediately.

Scania’s modular system has left its mark on the V8 engine in many ways. Bolts are a good example. The number of bolt variants has been greatly reduced, which naturally reduces the risk that a fitter will choose the wrong type of bolt.

“At present, the V8 line is engaged in a pilot project concerning our working methods and how we produce engines,” explains Magnus Jensen, one of the production supervisors at the V8 assembly line. “This will later be disseminated to other Scania workshops.”

Longer service life and less noise

The V8 assembly line employs about 45 people in one shift. Staff turnover is almost zero and the level of absences is very low. Many of the fitters have considerable experience and were involved in planning, designing and building the line. They have balanced stations, produced tools and fixtures and undergone further training in a variety of courses. Each fitter can adjust the working height and the angle of the engine block to suit his or her build. The biggest success factor is that fitters “own” and develop their own workstations, which is clear from the results in terms of product quality, process and working environment.

The assembly line has a bright, spacious working area with parquet flooring that is kinder to employees’ feet and knees. The noise level is low, due among other things to the acoustics and the few machines used. The numerous manual tasks are designed for maximum quality, and although they are repetitive, they aren’t monotonous. The V8 fitters also switch between stations, which provides variation and a more interesting workday.

The V8 line has a total of 25 stations. Only one – the heavy job of torque-tightening for the cylinder heads and other components – is fully automated.

When the V8 celebrated its 20th anniversary, the man behind the engine had just retired. But he liked looking in his crystal ball and predicted today’s high-tech, reliable engines.

Throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Bengt Gadefelt was directly involved in and in charge of the design and production of Scania’s diesel engines. He led the task of creating the V8 engine and the “low-rev philosophy” that Scania would turn into a concept. A compact, powerful, low-rev engine would provide better operating economy, longer service life and less noise.

“We established how a truck is normally driven,” Gadefelt explained at the time. “Based on cruising speed on the road, we tried to adapt the characteristics of the engine and the overall gearing of the truck in such a way that the engine would run as economically as possible.”

Two years before the 20th anniversary, a major new step in the development of the V8 occurred. Electronically controlled fuel injection boosted engine output and improved driver comfort. Gadefelt foresaw this and retired as a strong supporter of the new electronics.

“More electronics in engines is excellent,” he said. “First, we adapt the factory-built engine to its transport task. Second, today’s electronic components are highly reliable. In future systems, the risk of failure will be minimal.”

1997 Jan’s secret love

For two and a half years, Jan Østlie had a secret relationship. And after 300,000 kilometres with Scania’s new V8 he could not imagine another. It was all about strength, operating economy – and genuine love.

Scania 16-litre V8-engine in a Scania R164 6×2.Dan Boman


Østlie had driven Scania’s largest and most powerful trucks for a decade when, in 1997, he was entrusted with the transport world’s then most secret engine. Parallel with his regular job at the Norwegian subsidiary of Swedish-based transport group ASG, he would be working as a field test driver for a disguised, totally new 16-litre V8.

After completing his field tests, Østlie was full of praise.

“This 16-litre V8 is much stronger at low revs and within a larger working range,” he reported. “The engine is perfect on long, slippery ascents, since gear changing is not needed as often as before.”

For Østlie, just like so many other V8 drivers, a V8 was more than a truck. It was a way of life.

“Once you have started driving a V8, it easily becomes habit-forming,” he said. “And when you experience the reliability of this engine, and how economical it is, it takes a lot to make you change your mind and go back to another engine.”


On the following pages you can read more about the engine Jan Østlie tested.

In 1982 the V8 driver…

… was listening to Billy Idol’s debut album and Blondie, watching Gandhi and Rocky II and being shocked by the Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina.

In 1989 the V8 driver…

… was listening to Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels, going to see Batman and the third Indiana Jones film and cheering as the Berlin Wall was torn down.

In 1997 the V8 driver…

… was listening to Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind and ZZ Top’s Degüello and watching the 18th Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, and was shaken by the death of Princess Diana in a car crash.


When Scania unveiled the 350 hp V8 engine in 1969, it was Europe’s most powerful diesel truck engine, and it remained so for many years. Scania has been continuously refining this engineering masterpiece ever since.Read more