The Condor model is part of the past, as at the moment the truck has stopped being manufactured by Freightliner. For its time however, the truck was seen with pretty good eyes thanks to its flexible character and its capable performances.
The truck had a low entry cab configuration designed especially for refuse industry and offered a maximum GVW (gross vehicle weight) rating of up to 98.000 lbs.
To make it cope with tight city streets or congested traffic situations, the truck received a set-back front axle which improved the over-all maneuverability. The Condor was offered with a wide range of Cummins and Caterpillar engines which developed between 275 hp and 375 hp.
The Freightliner Condor featured a pretty rudimentary design, but despite its rugged look it was fairly practical and its low cab over engine configuration offered easy access inside the cab and also maximized the truck’s handling abilities.
The front was dominated by a rectangular grille that was traversed by a few thin horizontal stripes. The light clusters were pretty rudimentary designed and had a rectangular shape which continued the basic design language found at the rest of the truck.
The bumper had also a simple shape, but it was constructed of a solid material which made it able to go head to head with arduous working conditions without whining. In order to be more durable and to maximize payload, the entire cabin was made of lightweight aluminum.
To offer a proper road visibility, the truck was fitted with a big windscreen that was split in two separate sections to be easier and cheaper to replace in case of a partial damage.
The Freightliner Condor was built with functionality in mind and this thing can be observed from the moment you start climbing inside the cab, as you are treated with convenient low placed footsteps and comfortable grab handles for both hands. Moreover, the door opens to a 70 degree angle which even if it doesn’t sounds impressive, it still pretty wide permitting you to hop inside without too much drama.
Once on board you’re treated with plenty of space and you won’t complain about head or leg room. The dashboard has sacrificed style over functionality and features a robust and practical design that was built around the driver. We also like the flat floors which permits you to move free throughout the cab.
Despite its old age, the steering wheel looked pretty good ant it was also offered with both tilt and telescoping adjustments permitting you to find your favorite driving position in no time. Moreover, the steering column was routed through the dash instead of the floor, providing more room for the driver’s feet.
The speedometer, tachometer and oil gauges were mounted on the steering column which made them easy to read, even when the steering wheel was tilted.
While the overall refinement and plastics left much to be desired, we didn’t have any complains about the big seats which offered a proper comfort for short runs and also came with a wide range of useful adjustments.
The storage department wasn’t as good as expected for a truck of this type, but you’ll still find a few useful cup holders and various consoles to keep your things.
Engines and performance
The Freightliner Condor was offered with various engine options which included both Caterpillar and Cummins units.
The Caterpillar 3126 engine comes with an inline cylinder, is electronically controlled, has 7.2L capacity and an air-to-air after cooled system. It offered maximum outputs raging from 175 to 300 hp at 2,200 rpm. This four-stroke engine offered the highest output among Caterpillar’s midrange trucks. There were also available the CAT C-10 and CAT C12 units which offered maximum power ratings of up to 355 hp.
The Freightliner Condor’s lineup of engines had also included Cummins units which developed between 300 hp – 350 hp. Depending on the model, the engines were mated on various Allison transmissions which offered a proper response and were able to perfectly keep the truck in check at any time.
Ride and handling
The truck was fitted with front leaf springs and rear air suspensions. Thanks to this configuration the ride was pretty good and the truck was able to deal well even with the biggest road bumps.
The power steering wasn’t as good as the ones from the newer models, but it helped you to maneuver the truck pretty easy especially at low speeds. Moreover, the relatively compact exterior dimensions and the tight turning circle were also working in your favor and helped the truck to negotiate with tight working situations.
The overall handling wasn’t something to rave about, but given the utilitarian nature of the truck we didn’t even hoped to get better results.
The stopping power however was fairly strong and inspired confidence every time you’ve plated your foot on the brake pedal.
Overall the Freightliner Condor was able to make a compelling case for itself. While it’s clear that the old Freightliner Condor is a step behind today’s refuse trucks, for its time it was a pretty good product that was able to deal well with almost anything you’ve asked of it. It’s true that the engines weren’t exactly lively and they’ve started whining every time you’d need to deal with an uphill section, but in the end they were still able to get the job done.
The cabin was pretty spartan, but at least it was very practical with every control placed within easy reach, comfortable seats, proper driving position and excellent all-around visibility.
The ride and handling weren’t something to rave about, but we aren’t talking about drag racers here, so we won’t complain too much about it.