Iveco Acco 8x4 truck review

By: Matt Wood


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Love it or hate it, the ACCO has left an indelible mark on Australian trucking. Matt Wood takes the latest update for a drive and confronts some old memories

 

I doubt there has ever been any instances of the words ‘evocative’ and ‘ACCO’ appearing together in the same sentence.

The word ‘venerable’ yes, maybe even ‘honest’. ‘Evocative’? No.

So as a literary first that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Evocative is exactly what came to mind when I climbed into the cab of the newly facelifted box-cabbed beastie.

No, I’m not getting all arty farty on you, nor am I going to wax lyrical about the poetry of its flowing lines and stylish interior.

I could perhaps call it a post-modern homage to the interface between humanity and the socio-political industrial complex.

But then I really would sound like a wanker.

An Acco history

But I, like many people who steer trucks for a living, have spent more than a little time driving various ACCOs over the years in various guises.

And springing into that driver’s seat was indeed an evocative experience, bringing a whole lot of memories flooding back.

I felt like I’d fallen through a rip in the time space continuum.

My scalp even started itching where my hair used to be.

Ahh … the memories.

There’s the joy of chasing your Esky around the cab while on the move so you can retrieve your sandwiches.

The joy of watching your coffee mug tip over and cover the floor in a sticky brown mess as you negotiate a roundabout.

Then there’s the joy of being able to keep throwing today’s paper over your left shoulder until the parcel shelf looks like a Visy recycling site.

And, of course, the joy of watching the analogue gauges slowly rotate in their mounts with the vibration of an old 240 or VT190 Cummins.

Anyone remember the Perkins Phaser?

One particularly nasty variant I drove had no air conditioning, so I had to be careful that the heat radiating through the gaps around the 10-speed gear shifter didn’t melt the Glad Wrap on my lunch.

Almost everyone I speak to about the venerable Australian Constructed Cab Over (ACCO) simultaneously smiles and shudders when the subject is brought up.

Iveco -Acco ,-Review ,-8x 4,-TT2

 

Today’s Acco

These days, though, the ACCO has largely been reduced to vocational duties.

Garbage and concrete are now the staple diet of the ACCO.

The venerable, and dare I say evocative, Iveco vocational workhorse has been lumbering over urban streets, through rural paddocks, down quarry access roads and even plying the open highway for more than 40 years.

From around the time Harold Holt decided to hitch a lift on a Chinese submarine, the ACCO has managed to keep pace with its target markets.

There was a time when teams of beanie wearing, footy-short clad individuals could be found chasing an ACCO through the suburban morning, leaving empty garbage bins in their wake.

It has been a remarkable survivor.

These days, the ACCO can still be found prowling those same streets with a single operator and an hydraulic bin lifting arm.

There wouldn’t be another truck on the Australian market that has managed to move with the times and reinvent itself as much as the ACCO.

Iveco’s Aussie-built bread-and-butter banger did cop an update in 2015, though.

 

This latest update now features electronic stability control.

 

A facelift inside and out, and the addition of electronic stability control, has been aimed at giving the flat-faced ACCO a new lease on life.

And now it’s lost even more weight.

With this in mind we took an 8x4 ACCO agitator for a spin (sorry) to have a look at the latest tweaks on the cab-over and see how it compares to the competition in today’s ultra-competitive truck market.

 

Engine and Transmission

A 9.0-litre Cummins ISLe5 provides power at either 320hp (239kW) or 340hp (254kW), and an Allison 3200 auto takes care of gear changes.

Given the ACCO’s vocational target audience, there is no manual transmission option.

The Allison tranny selector is straight forward, though this one was on a pivoting mount.

Clearly this is for dual control roles.

 

The Allison selector is ideal for dual control, but it flops around a bit on its mount.

 

However, as a fixed driving position agi, the push button unit tends to flop from side to side when you’re using it, which is annoying.

With the blunt end of the agi pointed at the gate, however, I put the foot down and let the 9.0-litre SCR powerplant have a go.

It may not be Euro quiet, but driveline noise, even with the live drive PTO engaged, isn’t overly intrusive.

The 340hp and 1500Nm got the tail shaft spinning quite easily, and the Cummins/Allison combination seemed to have a productive working relationship.

 

A Cummins ISLe5 provides power at ratings of either 320 or 340hp.

 

Cab and Controls

Hopping into the new model will be like stepping into a time warp for anyone who’s spent time behind the wheel of ACCO’s past.

The squarely symmetrical dash board and block switch gear haven’t changed for years, however a new digital Iveco instrument cluster and steering column make for a slightly more modern appearance.

That said, it does seem a little incongruous in the old Esky-shaped cab, a bit like receiving a Snapchat from your granny.

There will be plenty who’ll have unkind things to say about the ACCO’s ergonomics and basic — to the point of Spartan — cab.

However, these very things have served to keep the truck selling well.

Its symmetrical cab adapts to dual control very easily for trash truck duties, and the cab can be easily manipulated for a number of vocational roles.

The ACCO has been around for so long now that there’s probably hardly a role it hasn’t been thrust into.

Airport tender? Just break out the gas axe.

Want to mount a Flocon body for laying some black top? No problem.

Crane truck? Tilt tray? Cable layer? Agitator? Well, durrr.

All manner of weird and wonderful mods have been carried out on the ACCO platform over the years.

 

The basic but symmetrical layout makes it ideal for dual control roles.

 

Performance

The simplicity of the ACCO’s architecture and its low tare weight have been its biggest selling points for decades, however underneath quite a bit has changed.

The 5.1-metre agi wheelbase has lost even more tare weight, one of the ACCO’s biggest selling points, which means it can handle a 7.5 cubic metre bowl.

This is a best-in-class at this point in time.

The twin steer front end rides on Airtek airbag suspension, while the rear has a choice of good old rubber block or Hendrickson Primaax severe‑duty air bags.

While climbing into the ACCO may have sent my mind swirling back through the mists of time, turning the key brought me back to the present as the little Cummins fired up.

With the live drive PTO engaged, and a three-quarter full bowl spinning on the back, it was time for me to reacquaint myself with the ACCO.

 

The ACCO can now take a 7.5 cubic metre bowl, which makes it best-in-class.

 

And… the standout was the ride.

I made it my mission to tackle a couple of rail crossings, expecting the double thump of the twin steer axles to kick the driver’s seat skywards.

Instead, the whole unit rumbled over the tracks with barely a squeak.

Of course, having a decent amount of pudding on its back no doubt contributed.

The 19.8-metre turning circle of the ACCO also made it quite nimble for a big rigid when reversing into tight spots.

It may not be an ergonomic marvel by any stretch of the imagination, however the ACCO in 8x4 guise is still a pretty comfortable workplace.

 

Cab access on the old workhorse is still good compared to some of the competition.

 

One of the big advantages for it in this role is the low cab height.

The reality is that agi roles don’t require travelling great distances, and drivers spend quite a bit of time jumping in and out of the cab when on site.

It’s an easy truck to jump in and out of. Visibility is good too, and that box cab gives a good idea of the vehicle’s dimensions when manoeuvring.

I also have to note the inclusion of a couple of decent cup holders.

No more spilt coffee!

 

These days the ACCO now features cup holders and a place to put your hard hat.

 

Verdict

I could ramble on in some sort of nostalgic rant about the fair-dinkum Australian heritage of the design, but it would be selective hindsight.

The future will catch up to the ACCO eventually, especially once the next round of emissions regulations finally kicks in, whenever that may be.

Until then, the cab-over will continue to do what it does best in today’s construction and waste sector.

The ACCO is a simple vocational tool that feels tough enough to deal with the challenges of site work.

It’s not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but then nobody has ever claimed that it is.

 

 

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