Caterpillar v8 engines

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Caterpillar C9 ACERT-450hp Unused Govt Surplus Engine


Stock# C9-LFE01170



Caterpillar C9 ACERT-450hp Unused Govt Surplus Engine


Stock# C9-LFE01261



Caterpillar C9 ACERT-450hp Unused Govt Surplus Engine


Stock# C9-LFE01706



Caterpillar C9 ACERT-450hp Unused Govt Surplus Engine


Stock# C9-LFE01589




Caterpillar 3516-DITA Diesel Engine


Stock# 3516-6CL00216



Caterpillar 3516-DITA Diesel Engine


Stock# 3516-6CL00523



Caterpillar 3508 Diesel Engine


Stock# 3508-4ZL00533



Image Unavailable

Caterpillar C15-435hp ACERT Diesel Engine


Stock# C15DPF-SDP11665



Caterpillar C15-435hp ACERT Diesel Engine


Stock# C15-MXS27255



Caterpillar C13 Industrial Diesel Engine with Hand Clutch


Stock# C13-LGK02759



Caterpillar C13-520hp Industrial Diesel Engine


Stock# C13-LGK08662



Caterpillar C13-520hp Industrial Diesel Engine


Stock# C13-LGK20490



Caterpillar C13-520hp Industrial Diesel Engine


Stock# C13-LGK00767



Caterpillar C13-520hp Industrial Diesel Engine


Stock# C13-LGK22636




10 Best and Worst Diesel Engines in History

Best Diesel Engine - Series 60Ah the elusive diesel engine: power, strength and the raw horsepower to get the things done. You can’t go wrong with diesel and in this author’s humble opinion you’re already way ahead of the curve if you go diesel vs a puny gas engine. Ok we get it. Diesel is awesome but what diesel truck engine out there is truly the BEST? Cummins guys will fight until their dying breath that the Cummins 5.9 is arguably the best diesel engine ever made while CAT or PowerStroke gents will look in disbelief at the verbal diarrhea spewing forth from their buddies’ mouths. The debate is as old as Rudolf Diesel himself. Well good thing I don’t have to be “The Decider”… I don’t need that kind of pressure. Good thing someone else is willing to take the bullet for me. The guys over at Capital Reman, have given it their best shot to rank the Top 10 Best and Worst diesel engines of all time. This article is about what they came up with. What do ya’ll think? Did they hit the nail on the head or completely miss the target on this one?

Honorable Mention: The Cummins B-Series

Why We Like It: This engine wasn’t the first Cummins Engine to bring some respectability to the medium duty diesel engine market but it surly refined it. The 4BT, 6BT and ISB 5.9L engines absolutely killed it in the torque rating capability. You need to tow something these engines have got you covered. Honorable mention on the best diesel engine of all time list isn’t too shabby.

The Specs:
• Engine Type: Four Stroke, Six Cylinder, Inline
• Bore x Stroke: 4.02 x 4.72 in
• Displacement: 359 ci (5.9L)Best Diesel Engine - Cummins B Series
• Fuel Injection: Electronic high-pressure common rail
• Construction: Cast-iron block and head
• Compression Ratio: 17.2:1
• Maximum Power: 325 hp
• Maximum Torque: 610 lb-ft

5. International DT-466

Why We Like It: What’s not to like about this engine?! If you’ve ever driven on a public highway you’ve probably passed 47 trucks running a DT-466 engine. Baby, this engine hauls America’s freight on a daily basis and is the backbone of the medium-duty fleets all over the country. It is a favorite of fleet managers because they run forever, have great torque to power ratio and can actually be rebuilt right in the frame of the truck. Number 5 seems fitting for the best diesel engine for the sheer number of units currently still on the road.

The Specs:
• Type and Description: Four Stroke, Six Cylinder, Inline
• Displacement: 466 ci (7.6L)
• Bore and Stroke: 4.59×4.68 in
• Compression Ratio: 16.4:1Best Diesel Engine - International DT466
• Governed Speed: 2,600 rpm
• Total Engine Weight (dry): 1,425 lb (647 kg)
• Maximum Power: 170-350 hp
• Maximum Torque: 860 lb-ft

Worst International Engine: VT-265, VT-265, VT-335, VT-365 Series (Became PowerStroke 6.0L)

Why We Hate It: The VT-265 and VT-335 in particular were part of the International Light Duty models released in 2003. Ford adopted the Powerstroke officially in 2003 but was unofficially in production starting in 1994. The predecessors were bigger 6 cylinders however an International bean counter decided it would be a grand idea to chop off 2 of the cylinders producing a 4 cylinder engine. This didn’t go over too well and the VT-265 and VT-335 were horribly under-powered. Best diesel engine? I think not.

4. Mack E-7

Why We Like It: Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Grrrr… That’s a good boy! What’s not to love about the Mack Bulldog. Mack truck engines have been around since 1893 when the Mack Brothers bought Fallsen & Berry Wagon Company in Brooklyn, New York. Mack has always been known as a slow and steady workhorse. It produced its first hook and ladder fire engine in 1909, produced over 6,000 trucks for the US and British Military during WWI and helped build the Hoover Dam in 1933. Its engines are known for their crankshaft to wheel torque ratio. These are the engines that built America. The Mack E-7 was first produced in 1988 and lasted until the early 21st century. They are extremely simple to overhaul and rebuild and do exactly what you need for them. They won’t win any races but are extremely reliable engines. When you think of the best diesel engine you can’t leave out the bulldog. Good on ya Mack!

The Specs:
• Engine Type: Four Stroke, Six Cylinder, InlineBest Diesel Engine - Mack E7
• Displacement: 672-998 ci (11.01- 16.35L)
• Bore and Stroke: 6.50×6.70 in
• Fuel Delivery: Unit fuel injection
• Aspiration: Turbocharged
• Governed Speed: 1,700-1,800 rpm
• Maximum Power: Up to 454 hp
• Maximum Torque: Up to 1,660 lb-ft

Worst Mack Engine: None… Macks are Awesome! That and there only like 5 models. E-6, E-7, E-Tech, MP8, MP11 etc… all pretty solid.

3. CAT 3406E

Why We Like It: It’s good to be The King! It is amazing how many people bleed yellow and rightfully so in most cases. There have been some catastrophic failures in the Caterpillar line of engines; the 3406E is not one of them. The CAT 3406 comes in the A,B,C and E models and then evolved into the CAT C15 then CAT C15 Acert engine. This was a very successful engine for CAT as it was really the first evolved electronic engine that was done right. This was such a great engine that the vast majority of Peterbuilt trucks in the mid 90s and 00s all had Caterpillar 3406E engines in them. The ECM design was easy to work with and bread a following of programmers that were able to write a variety of software for the engine. This “open source” concept with the ECM allowed end users to “hot rod them up” to add more horsepower and torque to the engine via the injectors, camshaft or valve timing. Even in 2016 the CAT 3406E is still in millions of on-road and off-road applications across the world. Overall Caterpillar is the unofficial king of diesel engines and it deserves its place as number 3 on the best diesel engine list.

The Specs:
• Engine Type: Four Stroke, Six Cylinder, Inline
• Displacement: 893.39 ci (14.64L)Best Diesel Engine - CAT 3406 Picture
• Bore and Stroke: 6.50×6.70 in
• Fuel Delivery: Unit fuel injection
• Aspiration: Turbocharged
• Compression Ratio: 14.5:1
• Governor Speed: 1,800-2,100 rpm
• Maximum Power: 375-465 hp
• Maximum Torque: Up to 1,850 lb-ft

Worst Caterpillar Engine: 3116

Why We Hate It: It’s not that we hate the CAT 3116 it’s that we hate the fact that it’s hard to work on. It is extremely hard to time the fuel system and like the VW on the automotive side, working on the CAT 3116 requires special tooling you can only buy from Caterpillar. Typically, it costs up to $5000 in tooling to work on the 3116. The other reason we don’t care much for the 3116 is that it is quite under-powered compared with a Cummins 5.9 or 6BT. The CAT 3116 was engineered to be disposable. Albeit the 3116 was used in a wide variety of application including many marine applications the CAT 3126 and later the CAT C7 were arguably better models. To conclude the CAT 3116 isn’t a terrible engine but is damn near at the bottom of the best diesel engine list.

2. Cummins 855 Big Cam

Why We Love It: How could you not immediately fall in love with this engine from the name alone? Kind of rolls off the tongue eh?! The Cummins 855 Big Cam was the last real mechanical variable timing engine mass produced by Cummins in the 1976. The Big Cam replaced the small cam 855 and was the first engine by Cummins to meet the Clean Air Act and noise regulations of that time. There were four generations of the Cummins Big Cam 855 engines, last produced in 1985 and was replaced by the N14. We love the 855 Big Cam because of the raw horsepower it puts out as well as its reliability. You can easily run a Cummins 855 Big Cam 700,000 miles before an overhaul. The Cummins 855 Big Cam was the first engine by Cummins to utilize demand-flow cooling which only cools the engine when the engine demands it. This system then uses the saved horsepower at the crankshaft for more horsepower into the project at hand. The Big Cam II significantly upgraded performance by introducing pulse manifolds into the engines; these were a big selling feature in these engines at the time. Overall horsepower was the main reason this engine was a big seller over the small cam models. The Cummins 855 Big Cam had one of the largest camshaft diameters on the market at the time and features top-stop injectors. Talk to any old school truck drivers in the 1970s and they will tell you tales when the Cummins 855 series were the king of the road. Hard not to leave these engines off the best diesel engine of all time list. There were some drawbacks with the 855 specifically when trying to start the engine in colder climates. The 855 uses a lower pressure fuel injection system at 2,200 psi to power the injectors and varying timing specs, oil/water pump and valve spring pressures. That being said a glow plug or a shot of ether should do the trick to fix this simple issue because overall this is a great engine.

The Specs:
• Engine Type: Four Stroke, Six Cylinder, Inline
• Displacement: 856 ci (14 L)Best Diesel Engine - Cummins 855 Big Cam Picture
• Bore and Stroke: 5.50×5.98 in
• Fuel Delivery: Unit fuel injection
• Aspiration: Turbocharged
• Compression Ratio: 10:1
• Governed Speed: 1,800 rpm
• Maximum Power: Up to 605 hp
• Maximum Torque: Up to 1,118 lb-ft

Worst Cummins Engine: Cummins ISX

Why We Hate It: The Cummins ISX was originally released in 2001 which replaced the longstanding N14 engine of the late 80s and 90s. It was supposed to be the Caddalic and the best diesel engine every designed at Cummins. However that didn’t pan out exactly. The ISX was engineered with a dual overhead cam design; one cam accessed the valve train and the other took care of the actuating injectors. In 2002 the ISXCM870 integrated the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) which takes the exhaust gas and recirculates it back into the intake of the engine. What this does is lower the combustion chamber temperatures limiting the formation of NOx. A neat concept but there were many issues with this system that caused many engine failures. The main point of failure is the dual overhead cam design which overly complicated things and caused many snowball effect types of issues in the engine. Lastly, the early versions of the ISX had a whole host of issues with the ECM which caused a sour taste in many Cummins owners mouths. In 2010 Cummins re-designed the ISX with a single overhead design to simplify things but the damage was done. This was supposed to be Cummins entrance into the electronic world however it was much too complicated for its own good. It is rightfully so belongs off the best diesel engine list; disappointing indeed.

1. Detroit Diesel Series 60

Why We Love It: Hands down the Detroit Diesel Series 60 is the best diesel engine ever produced for the class 8 world. Fun fact of the day: the Detroit Diesel Series 60 was mostly developed by John Deere although how much of an influence Deere had is debatable. The Detroit Diesel Series 50 cylinder heads were casted by John Deere Engine Company. In the early 1970s GM’s Detroit Diesel had roughly 41% market share of all diesel engines sold in America. By the early 1980s that number had shrunk to roughly 4% market share. GM knew the company was in trouble and sought out help from John Deere engineers to re-establish their reputation. There was a proposed joint-venture between the two companies that didn’t pan out however JD engineers purportedly designed the ring-system which fixed a lot of issues the Series 60 had with oil leakage problems as well as developed the cylinder head design. The main caveat of the Series 60 was the introduction of the first electronically controlled engine with the proprietary “DDEC” or Detroit Diesel Engine Control technology. The proposed company was to be known as “DEDEC” or Detroit Engines, Deere Engine Company. However the joint venture never came to fruition but the engine control technology took off.

The first diesel ECM was wildly popular with consumers due to its ease of use and updates in real time to the driver. Functions in the DDEC system included engine diagnostic functions, shutdown timers, progressive shift functions, fault history and record keeping, speed limiting governors, cruise control and automatic stall preventing. The cruise control technology was particularly popular with fleet managers due to its fuel-saving function but most notably DDEC system allowed the operator to download engine management reports regarding use of the engine, provide record of over-speeding, excessive idle time, hard breaking and other parameters. The DDEC allowed dealers to change the horsepower settings and in some cases propriety software was able to be loaded into the computer. The system was easy to operate and diagnostic codes were displayed to the driver in real time: red indicator lights signaled a major problem while a yellow light was less of a serious issue. Detroit Diesel did not invent the modern day ECM but rather adapted General Motors ECM technology from the early 1980s into diesel technology. The first ECM was created by BMW in 1939 for the Kommandogerat airplane during WWII. The DDEC boom set in motion the electronic era for diesel engines.

The Series 60 became the most popular selling diesel engine for Detroit Diesel and the company went on to produce the DDEC I, DDEC II, DDEC III, DDEC IV and 14L/DDEC V hybrid engines from 1987-2007. The Series 60 was first major diesel engine that did open the lead cam on the bigger bore. The DDEC IV got up to 575 hp before being replaced by the 14.0 L engine in 2007. There are millions of Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines still on the road today and it is extremely easy to remanufacture Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines due to their unrestricted open source design.  For 20 years Freightliner and Penske trucks all had exclusive contracts to include Series 60 engines in their trucks. All heil the king of diesel, may it continue to live in the history books as the best diesel engine in the world.

The Specs:

• Engine Type: Four-cycle, six-cylinder, inline
• Displacement: 778-855 ci (12.7- to 14.0L)Best Diesel Engine - Detroit Diesel Series 60
• Bore and Stroke: 5.24×6.61 in
• Fuel Delivery: Unit fuel injection
• Aspiration: Turbocharged
• Governed Speed: 2,100 rpm
• Maximum Power: Up to 515 hp
• Maximum Torque: Up to 1,650 lb-ft

Worst Detroit Engine: All old two-stroke Series 50, V-71 or V-92, technology. Good stuff but technology has surpassed these old engines. The old two stroke technology is easy to work on but boy that stuff is past its prime.

Well there you have it: the best diesel engines of all time… followed by the subsequent worst diesel engines. No matter what diesel engine you’ve got in your big rig or skid loader it’s probably not too shabby. You can’t go wrong with a diesel. Let the discussion begin!

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Model No.Power hp (kW)No. of CylindersCapacity
Cu. Inch (Litre)FuelDate introducedFitted to (examples)Notes Caterpillar D3400 engine25/314-cylinder?Diesel1938 - 47Caterpillar D2replaced by Caterpillar D311 engine in 1947 Caterpillar 3400G engine25/314-cylinder?Gasoline1938-42Caterpillar R-2 4J & 6J versionsCaterpillar 4200G engine36??Gasoline1931Caterpillar No.9 graderCaterpillar D4400 engine33/444-cylinder?Diesel1936-47Caterpillar No.10 Grader
Caterpillar D4replaced by Caterpillar D315 engineCaterpillar 4500G engine55/654-cylinder?Gasoline1941Caterpillar R-6 (Gasoline powered D6)possibly only 5 built & non are believed to exist Caterpillar D4600 engine66??Diesel1938-47Caterpillar No.12 Grader
Caterpillar D5 (only 46 built)
Caterpillar D6replaced by Caterpillar D318 engineCaterpillar 5500G engine36/444-cylinder?Gasoline?Caterpillar No.48 Elevating Grader
Caterpillar R-3 CrawlerCaterpillar 6000G engine37/414-cylinder?Gasoline1932Caterpillar Thirty-FiveCaterpillar D6100 engine38/463-cylinder?Diesel1932Caterpillar Diesel Thirty-Five
Caterpillar FortyCaterpillar D6600 engine45/603-cylinder?Diesel1935Caterpillar RD-6Caterpillar 7500G engine50/554-cylinderGasoline1935Caterpillar FiftyCaterpillar D7700 engine50/664-cylinder?Diesel?Caterpillar Diesel 50Caterpillar D8800 engine60/804-cylinder?Diesel1935-55Caterpillar RD-7 (9G)replaced by Caterpillar D339 engineCaterpillar 9000G engine68/794-cylinderGasoline1932-33Caterpillar Sixty-FiveCaterpillar 9500G engine76/864-cylinder?Gasoline1933-37Caterpillar SeventyCaterpillar D9900 engine63/754-cylinder?Diesel1931-33Caterpillar Diesel Sixty
Caterpillar SeventyCaterpillar D11000 engine75/1006-cylinder?Diesel1933-35Caterpillar Seventy-FiveCaterpillar D13000 engine95/125-1506-cylinder1246Diesel?Caterpillar D17000 engine120/160-2008-cylinder V1662Diesel?

Land Cruiser with a Caterpillar 10.4 L V8

This Land Cruiser was created by Reaper Performance Diesel in Maddington, Perth, Western Australia. The unique truck features a 40 Series body on a 105 Series chassis powered by a 10.4 L Caterpillar 3208 turbocharged and direct injected V8. The engine from the factory makes 200-250 horsepower and 620-640 lb-ft of torque but is probably making more.

Land Cruiser with a Caterpillar 10.4 L V8

Land Cruiser with a Caterpillar 10.4 L V8

Land Cruiser with a Caterpillar 10.4 L V8

Land Cruiser with a Caterpillar 10.4 L V8

Source: Reaper Performance Diesel and Toyotune via Yota Nation



Engines caterpillar v8

The need for speed greatly affected engine longevity as the builders tried to cram more and more HP into their boats. Unfortunately those older engine rooms couldn't take bigger motors so the answer was to get more HP out of the same size motors. A new Cabo 43 for example is now powered with 900 HP MAN V8-900CRM's. Those engines are almost 900 CI displacement and they fit into 40-45 foot sports yet the maintenance requirements are large money. You don't even want to ask what the yearly maintenance cost following MANs recommendations. Although the 3208 has been discontinued (1999) there are many still in service; the most popular applications for these engines are marine applications.The Caterpillar TA 3208, 375 HP will drive a 13T boat along at 35 knots.

Caterpillar 3208TA EngineAlthough the 3208 has been discontinued (1999) there are many still in service; the most popular applications for these engines are marine applications.

The Caterpillar TA 3208, 375 HP will drive a 13T boat along at 35 knots.

The difference between a NA engine and a highly boosted engine is huge when longetivity is the primary goal. Put a lower HP variant of the 3208 in a lobster boat or trawler and they run for many thousands of hours. Put the highest power variant in a big sportfish and run it 200 off the top and life is greatly reduced. This is really no different than any other diesel engine, the same holds true for an old 671NA compared to it's highly boosted counterpart 671TI producing more than twice the horsepower. As Jags points out there is also a line you cross where age becomes a factor more than hours. Hour meters like odometers seem to be the predominant decision logic when looking at older engines which is really just a small indicator of the life left in any engine. How the engines were maintained is of course a huge factor but the application (boat size, weight and cruise rpms) play a huge part in the longetivity equation. A 40 something sportfisherman running a couple hudred off the top it's whole life compared to a displacement hull running slow speeds is like night and day no matter what engine is installed.

The original caterpillar 3208 diesel engine was a 225hp, 636 cubic-inch capacity V8 design. It did not have cylinder liners, but many engineering companies would re-bore the blocks and fit oversize pistons and rings rather than throw the engines away. (They were known as “throw away engines,” which the makers claim was one of the design criteria.)

The 3208 emerged in 1973 as a turbocharged version but in 1981, major design mods such as stronger internal rotating parts, three-ring pistons, and beefed up oil and water pumps. The cooling system was also upgraded to include a bigger heat exchanger and seawater pump to cool the engine oil, exhaust manifolds, and turbochargers with the expansion tank and thermostats also being modified.

It was used in many applications but soon became a firm favorite with the yachts and pleasure boats fraternity, with the larger vessels having twin turbo-charged engines fitted.

Unfortunately, the engine was a bit of a gas guzzler and failed to meet the new internal combustion exhaust emission laws which were due to come into force in the new millennium; therefore it was discontinued in 1999.

 The 375 Hp engines we see in commercial use average 10,000 hrs between rebuilds. If it is a 225 or 250 hp natural in a trawler style vessel that gets run alot, you will see upwards of 20,000 or more.

3208 Specifications

3208 Marine Propulsion Ratings by Rating Class

Marine Ratings Definitions

"A" Ratings


Continuous A Rating
Load factor: 80% to 100% time at rated rpm. Typical hours/year: 5000 - 8000. "A" rating typical applications: for heavy-duty service in vessels such as freighters, tugboats, bottom drag trawlwers and deep river towboats when the engine is operated at rated load and speed up to 100% of the time without interruption or load cycling. For 3600 engines only: Continuous Service Rating is suitable for continuous duty applications, including dredges, for operation without interruption or load cycling. Maximum Continuous Rating is generally used for vessel applications involving varying loads. The engine power actually produced is limited by application guidelines, leaving a power reserve for unusual operating conditions.

"B" Ratings


Medium Duty B Ratings
Load factor: 40% to 80%. Up to 80% time at rated rpm. "B" rating typical time at full load: 10 hours out of 12. Typical hours/year: 3000 - 5000. Typical applications: Vessels such as midwater trawlers, purse seiners, crew and supply boats, ferries and towboats where locks, sandbars and curves dictate frequent slowing and engine load and speed are constant with some cycling.


"C" Ratings


Intermittent C Ratings
Load factor: 20% to 80%. Up to 50% time at rated rpm. Typical time at full load: 6 hours our of 12. "C" rating typical applications: Vessels such as ferries, harbor tugs, fishing boats moving at higher speeds out and back (i.e. lobster, crayfish and tuna) off shore service boats and also displacement hull yachts and short trip coastal freighters where engine load and speed are cyclical. Chp - Fast commercial and passenger vessels and cruising yachts with moderate load factors.

"D" Ratings


Patrol Craft D Ratings
Load factor: Up to 50%. Up to 16% time at rated rpm. Typical time at full load: 2 hours out of 12. Typical hours/year 1000 - 3000. "D" rating typical application: Planing hull vessels such as off-shore patrol boats, customs, police and some fire and fishing boats. Also used for bow and stern thrusters.


"E" Ratings


High Performance E Ratings
Load factor: Up to 30%. Up to 8% time at rated rpm. Typical time at full load: 1/2 hour out of 6. Typical hours/year 250 to 1000. "E" rating typical applications: Planing hull vessels such as pleasure craft, harbor patrol, harbor master and some fishing and pilot boats.







If you're looking for general boating parts, head to West Marine Online and check out their specials. If you are in search of model-specific parts, search your local CAT dealer.

History of Caterpillar Engines - Diesel History Episode One - Part 1 (Pre-WWII)

Is Caterpillar’s truck engine business finished?

If Caterpillar had simply left the heavy truck engine business in 2010, it could be said that the company showed great foresight.

Emissions targets for on-highway diesels had become progressively more difficult and expensive to achieve and the proportion of vendor engines in global heavy trucks had shrunk markedly.

Big players in the US market – Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner, Volvo/Mack and Kenworth/Peterbilt – had progressively specified their in-house engines, rather than engines from vendor suppliers Cummins and Caterpillar. And Detroit Diesel, once a major engine supplier to most US truck brands, had become Daimler-owned.

On top of that, Caterpillar’s on-highway truck engine business had never accounted for more than 10 per cent of Cat’s income.

cat c15 acert tanami road

A Cat C15 ACERT on the Tanami Road

Following months of speculation, Caterpillar announced in June 2008 that it would leave the heavy-duty on-highway truck-engine business by 2010, before the next round of US EPA (Environment Protection Agency) emissions legislation kicked in.

However, on the same day, Caterpillar and Navistar announced that they had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to pursue a global truck business.

"The combination of Navistar’s truck design, development and manufacturing expertise and Caterpillar’s unparalleled worldwide distribution creates a significant advantage for global customers through the ability to offer the right vehicle for the right application through more than 4700 points of distribution around the world," said Dee Kapur, president, Navistar Truck Group.

"The North American Caterpillar distribution system provides expanded reach for severe-service trucks with big-bore power: a segment where Navistar has traditionally not been as focused.”

cat ct660 us market truck

A Cat Ct660 US market truck

Interestingly, Caterpillar had already tried to comply with the 2010 US EPA emissions targets, using optimised versions of its ACERT (Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology) engines, without the use of SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) urea injection. Obviously, they failed and Cat paid a fine for very non-compliant engine it sold.

In parallel, Navistar insisted that its 2010 engines would comply with EPA legislation, without the use of SCR.

Navistar and Caterpillar were singing from the same hymn book and envisaged a new joint truck business. Oddly, though, Caterpillar – one of the USA’s premier diesel engine makers – embarked on a joint venture, NC2 LLC (‘NC-squared’ as it became known) that would use Navistar, not Cat, engines.

cat 3406c

Cat 3406C

It’s not clear who did the ‘due diligence’ exercise at Caterpillar, but it turned out that the Navistar engines had no chance of EPA 2010 compliance, without resorting to SCR and one of our US-journo colleagues lost his magazine editor’s job for saying so.

The NC2 joint venture was built on a false premise.

NC2 in Aus

On top of that, the Navistar-Cat alliance automatically cancelled out a long-standing agreement between International Trucks Australia – then owned by Iveco – and Navistar, to import bonneted prime movers for the Aussie market, so there was no love lost between Iveco and Navistar.

australian launch cat truck test

Australian launch Cat truck on test

In Australia, NC2 was launched with much hype at Uluru in 2010 and we journos got to drive the trucks not long after. Because Australian emissions laws were still at US 2004 levels, the launch vehicles were powered by Cat ACERT C-13 and C-15 engines, with unspecified emissions treatment components.

The Australian assembly line was an adjunct to Caterpillar’s Tullamarine (Melbourne) complex and was running flat-out assembling the new Cat trucks through 2010, because tighter Australian emissions laws were due in December 2010.

The aim was to produce around 500 2010-plated trucks and sell them before the supposedly-compliant Navistar engines arrived in 2013.

australian launch cat truck

Australian launch Cat truck

The first Navistar engine to be inserted into a Cat Truck was the company’s MaxxForce 12.4-litre. This engine had been developed for Navistar by MAN and would have easily complied with US EPA 2010 emissions requirements, had it been fitted with SCR.

However, Navistar stubbornly refused to equip it with SCR and the engine earned a reputation for unreliability, with subsequent legal action by North American owners. In January 2020 Navistar finally agreed to US$135 million in payoffs to claimants.

Interestingly, the Australian Cat Trucks lineup was different from the US-market product. Ours was based on the new streamlined Navistar cab that is now being sold by Iveco, but the Yank Cat Trucks had the old Navistar Paystar 5600 cab with a flat-fronted bonnet.

I drove the Australian-market NC2 C-13 and C-15 powered Cat trucks in November 2010 and found them to be very competitive with mainstream bonneted trucks and a great improvement over the old 9000 Inters that had gone before.

australian launch cat truck with c13

Australian launch C13

I didn’t bother with a test of the MaxxForce-powered 2013 model, because the writing for NC2 was on the dunny wall by then. Caterpillar had obviously lost interest in NC2 and the Australian arm of the joint venture was restructured as Navistar Auspac.

But there’s more!

In 2015 Caterpillar announced that it would end the joint venture with Navistar in the US and start building its own trucks from its plant in Victoria, Texas.

Caterpillar’s director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group, Chris Chadwick, said the on-highway vocational truck product family was important to its product line in the US.

“Customers like our trucks and want to include them in their fleets in a variety of heavy duty applications such as dump trucks, mixers, haulers or one of the other configurations we offer,” Chadwick said.

cat c 15 in a k100 kw

A Cat C15 in a K100 Kenworth

“To continue to provide the best solution for our customers, we will bring the design and manufacturing of this product into Caterpillar, and the production specifically to the Victoria, Texas plant.

“Our updated strategy reaffirms our commitment to grow and develop our presence in the vocational truck industry moving forward.”

Less than a year later, on February 26, 2016, Caterpillar announced it would not produce any of the planned new on-highway vocational trucks.

Ramin Younessi, then vice-president of Caterpillar’s Industrial Power Systems Division and now a group president, had joined Cat in 2013 and obviously saw the folly of the proposed venture.

“Remaining a viable competitor in this market would require significant additional investment to develop and launch a complete portfolio of trucks, and, upon updated review, we determined there was not a sufficient market opportunity to justify the investment,” said Mr Younessi.

“We have not yet started truck production in Victoria and this decision allows us to exit this business before the transition occurs.”

Thus ended one of the most ridiculous chapters in truck industry history and neither Caterpillar nor Navistar scored any positives from the debacle.

Interestingly, if you scan the Caterpillar website archive, there’s not a single mention of Cat Trucks.

Better days for Cat

Although Caterpillar products had been sold in Australia since the early 1920s, it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that Cat’s truck engines made their mark Down Under. Most notable in my opinion were the 3208, 3406 series and C-15 and C-16.

The Cat 3208

In the 1960s, Ford in the USA had contracted Cat to provide mid-range engines. The 1100 Series powered 163,000 Ford trucks in the decade and firmly establishing Cat’s identity as a truck engine manufacturer.

cat 3208  remanufactured engine

A re-manufactured Cat 3208

In Australia, Ford launched the Louisville range in August 1975, following US sales of 34,510 Louis’ in 1974. The new Ford was designed for petrol and diesel V8 engines and by far the most popular Australian model was the 8000, powered by Cat’s 3208 V8 diesel, with 175hp or 210hp.

The 3208 put the Ford Louisville on the map and I can remember road-testing several Louis’ with Cat V8s under-bonnet. Matched with an Allison MT650 self-shifter the LNT8000 was a popular agitator truck.

The Cat 3406 and C15/16

The 3406A 14.6-litre diesel six was released in the mid-1970s as a mechanical-injection, turbocharged engine with pre-chamber cylinder heads. The next iteration was the 3406A PCTA, with after-cooling, followed by the 3406 DITA, with direct injection.

In the early 1980s the 3406B featured ATAAC, air-to-air after-cooling and, in 1986, came PEEC (Programmable Electronic Engine Control) in the 3406C.

caterpillar c15

Caterpillar C15

Cat skipped the ‘D’ suffix and released the 3406E, full-authority, electronically-controlled engine for the 1990s. The 3406E was replaced by the C-15 in 1999 and the C-16 was a longer-stroke derivative.

Throughout its life the 3406 series was the preferred engine in many Australian line-haulers and road trains in the 1990s, and global sales over its life were almost 575,000 engines.

Until Cat abandoned the truck engine business, the C-15 and C-16 were in great demand in Australia. I have fond memories of a road train drive out of Alice Springs in November 2006, stirring the stick in a KW T904, behind a 625hp ACERT C-15.

Thanks for the memories Caterpillar…

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