Ford's only venture into the heavy side When it launched
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the Transcontinental, Ford insisted it was a European truck — so where better to test it than in Europe? That's what CM did in December 1975, embarking on a 3,800km test through Belgium, Germany and Sweden.
Our Ford HA 4234 (to use its correct name) was fitted with a 340hp Cummins engine, coupled to a 13-speed Fuller gearbox. The driveline proved to be a hit, making light work of the 37.4-tonne GVVV. Fuel economy was admirable too, especially in Sweden where it returned 8.2mpg. Of course this figure was helped by Sweden's 44mph speed limit, and the fact that it was pulling a flatbed trailer. The figure would drop to 4.3mpg while travelling through Belgium's hilly Ardennes region, while the overall figure for the test was 6.8mpg.
Our tester loved the big Ford/Berliet cab, "which is difficult to comment upon without resorting to too many superlatives".
He highlighted the positioning of the dials and instruments, and the cab ventilation, as being particularly good.
The ride was described as "soft" and "disappointing", and resulted in some dubious handling characteristics.
"We felt that it detracted from the driver's confidence when cornering — a situation probably aggravated by the relatively high cab," we wrote.
This is what Ford had to say: "The suspension was designed to cater for all surface conditions, but also laden and unladen conditions. I think we can claim that the gap between laden and unladen ride has been narrowed considerably although, in lowering the frequencies over bad roads, a sacrifice had to be made when fully laden on good roads — but we still believe it is a good ride."
The steering also came in for a bit of criticism for being too vague in the straight-ahead position, although things improved around bends. But overall we liked it: "The Transcontinental is an extremely well thought-out piece of engineering, all the more creditable as it is Ford's first attempt at the heavy end of the European market." And its last too!