Semi trucks and speed records are generally considered mutually exclusive, but Volvo Trucks has developed and built a one-off big rig that recently broke two Guinness World Records on a closed-off airfield in Sweden.
Volvo’s experimental truck is dubbed the Iron Knight, a name that’s slightly misleading because its cab is made entirely out of carbon fiber in order to shed as much weight as possible. The truck features a unique design that looks more futuristic than any comparable big rig on the market today, as well as a stripped-out interior with a roll cage and a Recaro bucket seat.
The Iron Knight is based on a regular-production FH truck. Engineers have made significant modifications to the midmounted, 12.8-liter turbo diesel engine in order to bump its output up to 2,400 horsepower and a jaw-dropping 4,425 pound-feet of torque. The list of modifications includes installing four turbochargers, and adding a water-cooled intercooler. Surprisingly, the oil-burner’s astonishing amount of power is channeled to the drive wheels via a stock dual-clutch automatic transmission.
As a result of the upgrades, this 9,000-pound beast is capable of hitting 60 mph from a stop in 4.6 seconds, about on par with a base Porsche 911. It covered 500 meters (about 546 yards) in 13.7 seconds at an average speed of 81 mph, and a kilometer (roughly 1,100 yards) in 21.2 seconds at an average speed of 105 mph. Both of those are all-time records for a big rig. And if that’s not impressive enough, it maxed out at 171 mph during one of the two runs.
While setting land speed records in a big, heavy semi truck sounds like little more than a PR stunt, Volvo explains it’s going through the trouble for the sake of research and development. The technology features designed to make the Iron Knight as fast as a sports car will trickle down to series-produced trucks in the coming years.
“Our aim was to generate new insights into technical and design solutions. The intention is to transfer some of these to our series-produced trucks,” Claes Nilsson, the CEO of Volvo Trucks, explained in a statement.