Whatever Happened to the Cabover Engine?

Most of you know what a cabover truck is, but some of our rookie drivers may be less familiar.

Cabover engines are a style of big rig truck where the nose of the semi is flat and the truck cab sits on top of the diesel engine and steering axle.

For decades across the American highways, you’d see the reliable cab over engine (COE) semi-tractor chugging along, hauling freight from coast to coast.

Today, you can drive across the country and chances are, you won’t even see one.

So we ask you, whatever happened to the COE?

History of the COE

How did the cabover engine begin? Well, the best way to increase payload space while working within a length restriction was to stack your cab on your engine.

After World War II, cabovers became even more common in hauling goods across America’s roadways.

By the 60s and 70s, interstate highways connected the most rural areas of America, increasing both trucking traffic and trailer lengths. But still, the eastern half of the US had very restrictive laws about the overall length of a vehicle, so trucking equipment had to adapt.

Restrictions of the COE

In fact, manufacturers competed to shrink their cab size and increase freight capacity. Of course, this worked great for shippers, but left a less than desirable amount of breathing room for drivers.

But the western staff had a different set of regulations, which emphasized spreading a larger amount of weight over a longer span to reduce road damage.

There were some positives to cabovers. Without the large hood, these trucks had great maneuverability and visibility. Whether you were winding through heavy traffic or backing into a dock, the shortened wheelbase gave you a tighter turning radius.

But the decreased comforts ranged from the hard-to-reach sleeper bunk, less insulation, and a rougher ride. Not to mention the noise! Sitting on top of an engine is louder than sitting behind one.

But most importantly, a long hood rig is a safer option for drivers as far as accidents go. And the few modern manufacturers who produce cabovers do meet current safety standards, so it’s not all a dangerous journey.

If you’re driving a cabover or a long-hood rig, you know that you still need to prepare for the 2nd Quarter IFTA deadline. Sure, it’s more than a few months away, but now is the time to get started. But rest assured, the crew at ExpressIFTA will be here at (704) 234-6005 to help you get ready.

Did you ever get behind the wheel of a cabover? Let us know on Facebook!

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