Foden has started to build trucks back in 1856 but after a history of 150 years the production was halted.
A significant milestone in the company history was the year 1980 when it became a division of Paccar Inc and has started to build models with its new partner. The last truck built by Foden and Paccar was named the Alpha and it was a cabover engine model powered by Cummins engines. The truck was sold in UK and New Zeeland until July 2006 when the company retired from truck production.
The Foden Alpha had a pretty versatile nature and thanks to its flexible chassis and the wide range of axle configurations it was suited for various heavy duty applications.
At the moment, the company continues to supply spare parts and service for its old trucks throughout the UK.
As most of the European trucks, the Foden Alpha had a cabover engine configuration which offered a good balance between exterior dimensions and interior space. Despite its age, the Foden Alpha had a pretty catchy design language which offered a good balance between style and functionality.
The vertical front was fitted with a central radiator grille with the diamond shaped company logo mounted on top. The truck wasn’t fitted with side air deflectors which are a very common feature on today’s trucks but we liked its two tone colour treatment which reminds us about the Scania’s models.
The wraparound bumper was pretty simple and was fitted with two rectangular headlights and a thin air intake. The fog lamps were placed lower into the bumper and had a pretty basic shape, as well.
The truck had a huge windshield combined with generously sized lateral windows which offered a good all-around visibility.
To offer easy access inside, the cab was fitted with three ergonomic footsteps and well placed grab handles. The big doors had also a wide opening angle further facilitating easy access into the cab.
While the exterior looked pretty good despite its old age, we can’t say the same thing about the interior design which betrays the true age of the truck.
The materials and fittings weren’t exactly first class, but we liked the wraparound dashboard which offered easy access to the numerous controls. There were also a bunch of useful consoles, cup holders and various storage places spread around the cab, permitting you to deposit different things.
The instrument cluster was fitted with all the needed indicators to keep the truck under constant check. The big round gauges were easy to read on both night and day and the layout was also pretty intuitive.
The seats are more on the hard side of things and despite their adjustments, you’ll still find it difficult to get cozy behind the steering wheel. The wheel however, had an ergonomic design and was easy to hold.
As most trucks in the business, the Foden Alpha offered a high driving position which enhanced the road visibility. The lateral mirrors were generally up to the task but despite their gargantuan size they’ll still missed a few blind spots.
Despite its utilitarian nature the truck was pretty well kitted with heated mirrors, pop up sunroof, night heater, radio/cassette player, adjustable headlamp level control, electric passenger window and even cruise control.
Engines and transmissions
The Foden Alpha was equipped with a Euro 2 Cummins engine which offered a maximum output of 406 hp with 1450 lbft of torque. The engine was mated on an Eaton Fuller 16 Speed Syncromesh gearbox which was able to deal great with the arduous missions of the truck and kept the engine lively without needing constant downshifts.
The Cummins engines have already a pretty good reputation and at that time they were fairly capable of dealing with massive payloads without too much fuss.
The Foden Alpha was also able to tackle the uphill sections without backing down and it was fitted with a capable Jacobs engine break which had a satisfactory retarding power helping to slow down the truck and also to spare the life of the service breaks.
Foden Alpha Engines Specifications
|Engine||hp @ rpm||lbft @ rpm|
|Cummins||405 @ 1600||1,450 @ 1,100|
Ride and handling
The truck was fitted with a rear Air Trac air suspensions which offered capable performances for its time and was able to deal with massive loads without too much fuss.
On the other hand, the truck had a pretty accentuated body roll and an overly light steering which from time to time needed small adjustments to keep the truck on a straight line.
The overall handling abilities of the Folden Alpha weren’t something to rave about, as the truck needed a better balance, especially at high speeds. The ride was more on the bumpy side as the front suspensions find it hard to keep your back far from the road vibrations.
At its time, the Foden Alpha was an average truck which was at par with what you’ll usually found in the segment. The cabin was fairly spacious with a good overall ergonomy and a long list of features, but the materials and fittings needed more attention.
The good part is that the truck was equipped with a capable Cummins engine, which regardless of payload or road conditions offered constant towing abilities and a sharp response.
Though, the truck’s ride and handling abilities were a half step behind of the segment leaders, as the truck was pretty bumpy and the steering was unsettled.
Judging by its price the Foden Alpha was pretty affordable and the spare parts didn’t break the bank either. The truck was also fairly reliable as its drivers never had major complains about this department.
But despite all of its advantages and the long history, the Foden brand didn’t had what it need to survive to the requirements of the modern highly competitive truck market, and not even Paccar had the power to revive it.