The Volvo Laplander was a military vehicle built by Volvo in the 1960s and 1970s, and used by a variety of countries’ militaries. Ownership and use of these trucks eventually trickled down to civilians, and now private owners use, show and maintain Laplanders worldwide.
In the early 1950s Volvo received an order to develop a new utility vehicle for the Swedish Army. A pre-run series of 90 vehicles, named the L2304, was delivered between 1959 and 1961. It was powered by a Volvo B16 engine. Full scale deliveries of the somewhat improved L3314 began in 1963. The L3314 was powered by the 1.8L B18.
The L33-series was offered with different body-variants such as hard-top, half-cab, soft-top, or special versions mounting anti-tank weapons. All vehicles are forward control (where the cab is located over the front axle), except the open L3304. The base version was the L3314SU softtop. Other versions were the L3314HT hardtop with mechanical winch, the L3304 anti-tank gun vehicle and the L3315 communications version, with a shielded 24V system. The L3314 was succeeded by the Volvo C303 in the late 1970s.
An upgraded version of the L3314 was offered on the civilian market in 1977 as the C202. It was a hard-top with the more powerful B20 engine instead of the B18, but with less robust axles and no differential brake. The C202 was manufactured in Hungary as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive C303. Civilian versions of the L3314 series, as well as the C202, are often called the Volvo “Laplander”.
Like many military vehicles of this type, the engines were actually very weak by today’s standards, boasting 82 hp. Miliary application puts a huge premium on simplicity, durability, parts commonality and in-the-field repairability. Performance is a distant fourth or fifth. To understand why this is the case, the German Army blitzkrieg advances in World War Two, noted for their speed, rarely exceeded an average of 30km/day.