The Story of the Cab-Over Truck

What’s a cab-over truck?

Cab-over trucks are big trucks without a hood, also referred to as “flat-nose” or “flat face” design. The cabin is located on top of the engine and steering axle. The overall length of truck and trailer 1956-1976 couldn’t exceed 65-feet, resulting in the popularity of these rigs.

Cab-overs have great visibility due to the lack to the hood. But they’re louder than long hood rigs, as the driver is sitting right above the engine. And the early ones were very cold, as they weren’t well insulated. And getting to the sleeper bunk is decidedly inconvenient. The driver must crawl through a hole, literally standing on the seat and crawling over the engine, which is positioned between the seats. Anytime the driver wants anything from the bunk, the process is the same.

After a long day of driving, they’re tough to get out of. And the ride is pretty rough. The trucker has to, more or less, “back out of the cab door” while hanging onto a door railing. Drivers have to be careful or they’ll end up falling to the ground.

Why did they go out of style?

The trailer and truck length limit was increased by 9-feet in 1976. Additional length laws were implemented along the way so there was no longer a need for these type of trucks and companies began purchasing the new and shiny conventional trucks we all know today.

Are cab-overs popular anywhere today?

Yes, cab-overs are still the gold standard in Europe, Australia and Japan. Truck manufacturers in these countries still make this body style as their lengths laws are quite rigid, and the cab-over style allows for trailer length to be maxed out.

Could there be a cab-over resurgence?

Potentially – over the past few years, auto enthusiasts have rebuilt, restored, and refinished some of these old truck to their new condition. Many of them are now surfacing at truck shows. The memories attached to the old rigs have drivers lamenting over the classic cab-over models that once ruled the highways of North America.

Interested in a cab-over truck?

You’re in luck, they occasionally pop up for sale on eBay and other truck sites. Or check out the gallery of some really cool cab-over trucks that have been restored.

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