, also known as COE
Over Engine), cab forward
, or forward
, is a body style of truck
that has a vertical front or "flat face",
with the cab
of the truck sitting
above the front axle
. This truck
configuration is currently common among European and Japanese truck
manufacturers, because the laws governing overall vehicle lengths
are strict and the body style allows longer trailers or a longer
cargo area for the same overall length.
popular among United
States heavy truckers and trucking companies during the
1970s because of strict length laws in many states, in the U.S.
most heavy trucks use other body styles.
It is however still
very popular in the light and medium truck segment, such as the
NPR series. Most Japanese minivans like the Suzuki
Carry, Toyota Hiace and Mitsubishi Delica also utilize this body
It was also used for the (rear engined) Volkswagen Type 2
van, and in military
vehicles such as the Land
Rover 101 Forward Control
and the Pinzgauer High
Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle
Sternberg company of Wisconsin produced cab-over trucks as early as 1907, though
by 1914 only their seven-ton model was a cab-over.
reintroduced the cab-over layout in 1933 with their "Camel Back"
model, which allowed the cab to be tilted to access the
The introduction of the first modern cab-over layout in the U.S. is
credited to industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost
, who with engineer
Ray Spiller designed a cab-over truck for the White Motor Company
The laws of the time limited truck length to on highways. Siting
the cab over the engine saved several feet of cab length, which was
added to the trailer capacity. Schreckengost patented the design in
the first tilting cab-over design in 1958, which allowed the entire
cab to tilt forward for access to the engine.
The cab-over design makes the vehicle's wheelbase
shorter than the conventional
arrangement with a long
horizontal hood and the engine placed in front of the cab. This
shorter wheelbase allows semi
to have an overall shorter length allowing for longer
to be used, or it means
rigid vehicles can have a longer load area. The shorter wheelbase
also gives the COE an advantage in maneuverability over a
conventional model. And since COEs are lighter than conventionals,
they can theoretically haul heavier loads. Despite the COE designs
being smaller in general, they can still be fully equipped with
single or bunk beds. Also, lack of a hood gives better visibility
to the driver and significantly reduces the forward blind spots.
Some drivers have complained, however, that the shorter wheelbase
in the COE trucks gives a rougher ride than those with conventional
cabs, as the driver's seat is above the front axle
; and that the cabs tend to be noisier because the
engine is directly below.
Because of its flat front design, a COE truck has significantly
worse aerodynamics than a conventional tractor. This causes a loss
in fuel economy, and handling during highway speeds.
Although the tilting cab gives comparatively unobstructed access to
the engine, its deployment causes unsecured items in the cab and
sleeper (if equipped) to fall onto the windshield.
Also, the lack of a safe crush zone in the front makes it far more
dangerous in the event of a crash.
- Richards Award Winning Kenworth Cabover