The Steinwinter 2040 said truck it to convention

German firm Steinwinter had visions of more efficient and aerodynamic trucks in the early 80s. Its radical 2040 concept took the chassis of a Mercedes Benz tractor unit and placed its cab directly below the trailer.

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In theory, this cab-under construction resulted in a more aerodynamic (and therefore fuel efficient) design when compared to a regular articulated truck. It made better use of its length too, with a total cargo volume of 150 cubic metres for a loading area that measured just 18 metres. The design was also intended to be modular, with different engines intended for a wide range of purposes including work as buses or coaches.

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The 2040 was intended to be a modular design that could shift all types of cargo

It wasn’t without its flaws though, and a lack of commercial interest combined with amended European legislation meant the design ultimately went nowhere after its 1983 debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The 1,170mm (46in) roof line of the 2040’s cab was identical to Honda’s NSX supercar, delivering the opposite of the safe and commanding viewpoint offered by most trucks.

It’s said that its wedge-like frontal area didn’t incorporate adequate cooling for the mechanicals either. Safety-wise, the 2040 presents a unique challenge too, because unlike a regular truck it doesn’t position the driver above or even behind a point of impact.

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Oh-so-80s Mercedes interior (Pic: Steinwinter)

You have to wonder whether or not the still-born Steinwinter 2040 could be resurrected with today’s technology. Its poor visibility could surely be overcome by today’s camera technology, for example.

In some ways the 2040 does live on vicariously through vehicles such as Spierings cranes or those bizarre airport trucks that use a similar cab-under design.

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Spierings cranes use a similar under-cab design (image: Spierings Cranes)
Story references: autozeitung.de
Image credits: Steinwinter via Wheelsage