Renault Magnum Series II (560) - 1997-->2002


Not many posts here on this vehicle. Not UK-built or conceived, not as mainstream as the dominant SCANIAs/VOLVOs/MANs/M-Bs/DAFs. Thus understandably few references on TrucknetUK.
But these vehicles are very present in some continental markets especially France, Spain and Portugal. Norbert Dantressangle, Paconsa and a few others have been amongst the large fleet users.
Interestingly, many have found a second life in Poland, they love them over there it seems.

Here are some pictures I took in 2006, I sometimes accompanied a mate of mine on his daily run which would bring us from Geneva (groupage point, mainly Firmenich and Givaudan, two large Fragance&flavour manufacturers exporting significant volumes of high-value goods to Europe), on to Trafictir’s logistic platform in Genas near Lyon, then on to the rendez-vous point - usually Valence or Carpentras or thereabouts. Then swap trailers with the colleague inbound from Barcelona, and then straight back to Geneva. Usually we would depart around 4pm, back 3-4am with a good break in between.

The ever-growing presence of East-European drivers and the corresponding effect on rates meant that like many others, this Swiss operator employing Swiss or French drivers ceased operating this route in 2008. I was lucky I could still enjoy the moment.
Note that at the time I did not yet have my HGV and so could not drive myself, the only real regret I have.

The vehicle: The most powerful ever Magnum, equipped with Mack’s famous 16-liter V8 tuned up to 560hp - real horses that is, not donkeys.
The loads were quite variable, sometimes return cargo was light (furniture etc) but on this particular run we found ourselves at max weight - probably closer to 42 tonnes in fact, I think this was before the French increased their max permissible tarefrom 40 to 44.5.

For those of you who have done the Mt Blanc, you will know the long and steep climb after Bourg-en-Bresse, the Ceigne-Cerdon - some 7kms of constant 6 or 7% climb grade, therefore excellent testing grounds for engines but also the cooling system (insufficient cooling systems like Man’s former TG 660hp V10, when pushed to the max, would apparently go into overheating/alarm mode in such places).
Near the summit we were still cruising in 13th gear, doing some 55 kph when we passed the TOTAL services station, and probably 25 more than some of the stragglers we saw rapidly vanishing in our mirrors. It was a very impressive, comfortable, mostly reliable motor, they never had any major repairs on the two twin units they had. Fuel consumption was a different story…
Finishing and quality of assembly: in my opinion quite good, yet nowhere near the Swedes. At the time this vehicle had some 870’000kms IIRC, 2000-built. Many little squeaks, electronic pains, occasionally the aircon/heating would pack up - and promptly return to action, various oil leaks around the gearbox and diff (though the engine was remarkably clean). Today I often drive an R470 Scania tractor unit here in Switz, it still looks new, and most importantly PERFORMS like new, in every respect including the non-fundamentals. Personally I can tell a clear difference…

I do not have much further history or background to add to this story gentlemen, again I never drove this vehicle, but I do hope you will enjoy the pictures and possibly have your memories jostled somewhat.


Above: At Bardonnex (Geneva) Customs, completing our paperwork. Yes Gents, Switzerland is (still) not part of the EU…

Above: Several operators actually faked their 390/430/470 6-cylinder units by sticking up this badge apparently. Of course the second you turned the key the tide would recede and those swimming naked were left… well naked.
A shame Renault never engineered the sound more, like Scania does (or used to do). The potential was here.

Above: I always thought these were very, very smart-looking vehicles

Above: My mate (and excellent driver) Rodney. No he is not British as his name might suggest, but apparently his parents (both French) liked he idea of a British-sounding name. Quite unusual out here :smiley:
Ready to go. He always had a shine about him when he was about to set off, one of those drivers who adored his job and took it very seriously.

Above: Some fun with the camera

Above: Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, from the bridge

Above: Bellegarde again

Above: Not without reason that this motorway was dubbed “L’autoroute des titans”

Above: The old Bellegarde → Nantua → Bourg en Bresse line. Decommissioned in 1981, put back into service in 2010 as a shortcut for the Geneva → Paris high-speed train connection.

Above: Many an old hand will’ve had a brew or a meal in the old truckstop which I missed by a split second, to the left, the bottom of the valley, next to Lac de Sylans.

Above: The bridge over Nantua

Above: Nantua. Halfway the main road on the left is Transports Marmeth’s depot.

Above: Rodney at work…

Above: The Junction South of Lyon: To the right: direction St Étienne. Straight: A7 southbound

Above: Le Rhône

Above: Compliant

Above: Not compliant at all even by French standards, but oh such good fun :smiley:

That’s it gents. I hope you enjoyed being taken for this little ride.


Excellent article, Davidoff.

I was particularly struck by your criticism of the durability of the various components of the vehicle, compared to other makes- you don’t get that sort of no-nonsense detail in the books, nor is it usually so well explained on here! The reputations of French and Italian vehicles, from what I have read, have always had that “flimsy” air about them. Is this reputation deserved, in your opinion? Would it explain their relative lack of success in the German, UK and Scandinavian markets? Would an LB110 or F88, for example, have been a more durable machine than its competitors from sunnier places?

Oddly enough, on the same subject, the 4-series and later Scanias get a proper slating on here, for not being as well-built as the earlier models, yet your impressions of the R470 seem to contradict that notion. Do you think the UK market has just become tired of paying a bit more for good Scandinavian engineering, and has started to nit-pick?

Hello [ZB Anorak]

I have only been on the road for about 4 years and on an occasional basis, so by no means do I have enough background to formulate a strong expertise. I must have done about 60’000 kms in those four years.

What I can say is this:

  • The Scanias. I work for a milk hauling company, we basically collect milk from farms so mostly local work, stopping, starting, forward, reverse, salt, snow, mud, etc. Our fleet of eight units are all well-maintained by a boss who sometimes reminds me of earlier posts about this firm Peter Roff. Our boss won;t go as far as wiping inside the exhaust though :smiley: . After 400’000 kms, the wagon and drag I often drive (A-frame) shows no sign of fatigue, whether engine, transmission, the engine braking system, but also things like the driver’s door which by now will have been opened and closed more often than during the entire life of many a long distance-bound lorry - No wear in hinges or door handles.
    We also use one artic for long-distance work (we often tip in Lucerne), the other day I missed a symbolic point by not much - i closed my disc at 899’850. In simple terms, inside and outside his vehicle has consistently shown IMMACULATE appearance and performance. (I must add that Scania recalled this lorry in 2007 after 120’000 and replaced the engine under warranty, apparently there were some issues with porous pistons in this series though ours had given us no trouble. So the engine is nearing 800K).

  • Our principal destination is the milk factory in Geneva, where we always encounter our esteemed competitor, who run a fleet of recent IVECOs. They reportedly perform quite well and are good on fuel apparently. But the finishing is quite poor: steering wheel peeling off (after 150’000), floor mats + carpet worn through to the metal plating too early, cheap seat fabric, the engine brake or indicator switch broke off one seemingly for no good reason, this driver is somewhat older and careful. Some electronics acting up as well. None of those vehicles has more than 500K on the clock.
    They are relatively cheap and good on fuel. Oh and they rust, even after 200’000 I see the first red spots around the driver’s door and where one accesses this little toolbox behind the door. Again this is some personal observation coupled with much coffee talk, so I take it all with a pinch of salt, these guys sometimes do like their ranting for the sake of it.
    They have one Turbostar left ( 1990 240-36 I think), very occasionally it shows up, to my delight.
    Apparently the cold start ceremony is one big white cloud, but it has proven the most reliable of all their vehicles, all of their Eurotechs throughout the years have long crossed the Med.

  • The Renaults. Well, the Magnum, after 870’000, still looked very decent. No rust on the cab or underneath, just little squeaks here and there (handles, seats etc), and this heater playing funny.
    Overall and from my memory, they did give me a better impression than the IVECOs.

From my personal experience I can say one thing - in my previous job I have inherited a 1997 Renault Safrane as a company car (with 2.5 petrol engine, in fact this came from the Volvo 850 under the old Renault-Volvo agreement). When I left this company I bought the Renault off them, and took it all the way to 300’000 km. Apart from one heating radiator (it strictly received ALL meticulous maintenance) it basically NEVER let me down or caused me ANY kind of concern, I can only speak in the highest terms about this car.

I think it is down to everybody’s own experience, my modest views are described above.

What would I buy TODAY? I would intuitively give the Swedes my preference. I definitely like Scania and I have never had any trouble. I also hear great things about Volvo (especially their iShift (though I am a manual man through and through). But I do believe that much of the old day’s differences between makes have been erased, I think many parts are shared in common anyhow…

Hi David! verry nice Pictures and a stunning truck!

I have never drived the magnum,they were never meny sold here in Sweden,but a friend had one from with no prob to about 500000km.
But the lack of service in Sweden made him go for a Volvo when he sold the magnum.
And as Anorak the new Scania isnt as good as the old ones,The 143 is in my Eyes probably the best truck ever built :smiley:

Reg Danne

I don’t mind the Magnum, plenty here in Australia mainly on B-Double work, and they run them on triples out west with a double chassis. I ran one a few months ago for my mate. B-Double Melbourne to Adelaida, stuck another trailer on the back and went to Perth, up to Karratha then back the same way to Melbourne. It was running a ■■■■■■■ with a Fuller box and Hendrixon back end. Quite happy to sit at 100k. 62 ton with the B-Double and 88 with the other trailer.


Those Aussies, they leave nothing original!
I think the 141 (with set forward axle btw, like the Brazil model) and F89s were already retrofitted with Fuller boxes, am I correct?

I did not know that Magnums also saw their engines replaced, that’s new to me.
I would have thought Mack’s V8 would have suited the local appetite, considering it is already present in the Country via various other vehicles? Could you share some more details on the ■■■■■■■ and the reason for the replacement? Or did Renault offer them as part of the menu from new? One thing is for sure - plenty of room in that engine compartment…

Perth to Adelaide, how long did that take you? I would imagine some 20 to 24 hrs effective driving time through the nullarbor?

never been in one but they always looked top heavy and the cabs seem to bounce around a lot. are they on air?

Melbourne to Adelaide, about a day by the time you muck about getting everything sorted out.

Adelaide to Perth 30 to 32 hours as we are restricted to 90k,s with anything over a B-Double. Loads of cops sitting the middle of no where just to make your day happy, so it’s not worth pushing it.

Perth Karatha another day by the time they get themselves sorted out in Perth.

Magnums also come with Detroit, and used to also have Cat, as do Volvo who also fit ■■■■■■■ or Mack V8’s, and so do Iveco. So take your pick cause they’re all the same. Although KW don’t have Cat any more, if you want a Cat then the only way to get that is buy a Cat truck which looks a lot like the old Stirling, which used to be Ford, who on longer make large trucks in Australia and never offered a Cat out of the factory but many had them fitted later on in life. Daf used to offer Cat, but also offer Volvo, only Scania in Scania, but they have a fuller option, no Toplines here only Highline, and not often at the front of a train, quite a few 8x4 units starting to get about though like the NZ trucks, better for steer axle overload.

Most long haul trains go for big in line turbo 6’s, but there are still a few that go for 8’s which are having big problems getting Euro 6.

My personal preference is a XXL Volvo globbie which has an extra 400mm cab length, with an I shift and not over 62 tons, but when you show up for work and the TM says take that one over there then that’s the truck you go in or you go home. So that’s the choice, and as long as it doesn’t have chicken house stuck to the front of it (bonneted truck) then I’m pretty easy to please.


never been in one but they always looked top heavy and the cabs seem to bounce around a lot. are they on air?

Lee, from what I have heard the first ones were really bad, roundabouts would have them tip sideways quite badly, and also there were reports of early wear in the mountings. I do believe they wera (at least partly) air-cushioned.
After 2-3 years they partly fixed it, although by design, the cab being separate from the chassis, some swinging remains inevitable.
There’s an old AE500 (very first generation) still running here in Switz, belongs to a gipsy. Might have a look underneath if he lets me (I will have to try and look less dodgy then usual).

Most long haul trains go for big in line turbo 6’s, but there are still a few that go for 8’s which are having big problems getting Euro 6.


Interesting read, those Aussie specs. Thanks

Here in Europe only Scania is left with EURO 6 V8s, Merc and MAN both packed up their V8s and stuck in straight-6 machinery instead.

Scania Schweiz AG organised a V8 event during the Interlaken truckfest, to celebrate the fact that they were the only ones perpetuating the V8 beyond EURO 5.
I found the event really disappointing. There was a beautiful line-up of the entire V8 heritage i.e. 140s/141s/142s/143s/144s/164s/Rs, but all Scania did was leave them standing with people walking by. No animation, no demonstration, no meaningful presence of Scania personnel.
Quite a missed opportunity I think. Oh well.


All Magnums have air suspension front and rear on the cab. The problem on the early versions and to a degree the later ones was its speed of reaction to cornering. By the time the level valve had inflated the bag you were back straight and up in the air one side until it levelled out again. The were various modifications over the years to the air bags (position and size) the levelling valves and the cab shock absorbers.


Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come, show little interest than just abandon it. I had many a fun time driving my Italian spec 480 V8 Turbo Star in the 90’s. The only things coming past were empty trucks, defiantly way out in front of Scania and Volvo for pulling power in it’s day. It ran for 5 years with only routine maintenance, unlike the Volvo’s we were running along side it. The only let down was the cab., and if driven sensibly pretty good on fuel.


Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come, show little interest than just abandon it. I had many a fun time driving my Italian spec 480 V8 Turbo Star in the 90’s. The only things coming past were empty trucks, defiantly way out in front of Scania and Volvo for pulling power in it’s day. It ran for 5 years with only routine maintenance, unlike the Volvo’s we were running along side it. The only let down was the cab., and if driven sensibly pretty good on fuel.



The 190.48. What a beauty. Or perhaps you had a 240.48? Nice either way

Here is something that might stir those memories a little. I watch this quite often, never get enough of it.
Fuel-economical driving on the other hand, oh well…

Here goes :

Talking of assembly and quality, note the large crack on the dash, around 0:16


Recently aquired a 2006 series 2 Magnum currently trying to bring it up to as new spec, anyone her know howto goabout replacing the headlight glass? Looks as though you can remove the unit without removing the corner panel but may be wrong, oddly one has the glass held by clips but the one I need replacing seems to be bonded on.
Any advice apreciated and gratefully recieved.

Look for Pete365 he is redoing a Magnum ask on South Wales Hauliers 60s 70s he is a vehicle painter

Look for Pete365 he is redoing a Magnum ask on South Wales Hauliers 60s 70s he is a vehicle painter

Andrew Cooper AKA pete359