Freightliner has been a prominent name in the Class 5 to Class 8 semi-truck industry since its establishment. In this blog, we’ll delve into the history of Freightliner truck models to explore the progression of this popular truck company.

All You Need to Know About the Freightliner Truck Company

Freightliner Trucks was founded in 1942 as Freightliner Corporation. While other truck companies explored numerous truck lines to provide a wide selection to their customers, Freightliner opted to stick with customizable heavy-duty and long-haul models. 

The 2001 Cascadia is considered the most popular unit of the company. It was a fleet truck made available in day cabs and sleepers ranging from 48” to 72”. Aside from this, the company’s medium-duty trucks, the M2 series, were also popular for city use. 


The powerful and heavy-duty Freightliner semi truck. (Source: California Truck Centers)

Freightliner takes pride in its drive for innovation. In fact, the Freightliner Inspiration truck became the first legally permitted autonomous commercial truck to drive on an open US public highway, including the Nevada desert. 

Furthermore, the M2 series is now produced in a new electric model called the eM2. The fundamental components featured in the Freightliner Inspiration prevented accidents, increased fuel efficiency, eased traffic jams, protected the environment, and enhanced both driver efficiency and sustainability.

The History of Freightliner Truck Models

The history of Freightliner trucks can be traced through its 18 units, some of which are still being manufactured today. To understand the popularity of this company, let’s take a look at each of the units one by one:

1942 Freightliner All-Aluminum Cab

In 1942, Freightways Manufacturing was renamed Freightliner Corporation. In the same year, the company released its first all-aluminum cab. In World War II, the company shifted to military artillery but ultimately resumed commercial truck production in 1947. 


1942 Freightliner all-aluminum cab. (Image courtesy of JonPaul Cottrell on Pinterest)

1953 WF64 Sleeper and the 1954 Shovelnose Cab

The majority of Freightliner’s 1950s offerings were manufactured by White Motor Company. In 1953, the two companies introduced the WF64, an overhead-mounted sleeper that came with a short cab. In 1954, the shovelnose cab ceased production for the taller White Freightliner Truck with a 4×4 axle. 


1953 Freightliner WF64. (Source: Image courtesy of Freightliner Trucks on Facebook)

1985 Freightliner FLC 112

In 1974, Freightliner became an independent manufacturer. However, due to production limitations, Daimler-Benz AG took over the brand in 1981. Under their supervision, the company released a new Medium Conventional FLC112 series. It sported the cabin of the Mercedes-Benz LK.


1986 Freightliner FLC112. (Image courtesy of Wayne Folsom on Pinterest)

1987 Freightliner FLD Series (FLD112, FLD120, & FLD Classic)

The Freightliner FLD series was made available to the American market around 1987, with the initial release of the FLD112 and FLD120 bumper-to-back cab variants. These Class 8 trucks marked Freightliner’s entry into the world of aerodynamic long-haul vehicles.


1987 Freightliner FLD120. (Source: BigIron Auctions)

The FLD112 was mated to smaller engines, mostly because of the limited options at that time. The engine offerings included the Caterpillar C10 and C12 and the Cummins M11. On the other hand, the FLD120 supported significantly bigger and more powerful engines, such as the Detroit Series 60 and the Cummins N14. 

All of the units in the FLD series were considered highly reliable by business owners. Despite this, the FLD112 was last produced in 2003, while the FLD120 continued until 2010.

1991 Freightliner FL-Series (FL50, FL60, FL70, & FL80)

Freightliner’s FL-Series served as the medium-duty line between 1991 and 2002. While these trucks were classified for their specific vocational uses, Freightliner offered them to business owners in highly customizable options. This way, owners can upgrade or downgrade their units depending on their company’s needs.


1999 Freightliner FL50. (Source: Arthur Trovei & Sons, Inc.)

Because of Freightliner’s significant considerations for companies looking for medium-duty trucks, the FL-series was even coined the “Business Class” models. Despite their numerous configurations, the units sported similar cabs with numerous applications.

1991 Freightliner FL106

Because of the popularity of the FL-Series among business owners, their overall designs were applied to Freightliner’s succeeding units. In fact, in 1991, the FL106 shared the same cab and hood as other FL-Series vehicles.


1995-Freightliner FL106. (Source: MarketBook)

While designed as a regional or city truck, the FL106 was made available as a Class 8 truck. This increased the power of the units for all-day hauling. The flagship units had a 5L Detroit Diesel Series 50 in the 1990s. However, later models were equipped with the Caterpillar C10 & C12 and the MBE4000 engine.

Ultimately, production of this truck ceased in 2004.

1991 Freightliner FL112

The Freightliner FL112 was considered the older sibling of the Class 8 FL106 because of their notable similarities. However, the latter had a longer bumper-to-rear-of-cab distance of 112 inches, making it a popular option for loading equipment.


1991 Freightliner FL112. (Source: Just Trucks)

The unit’s production ran from 1991 to 2004, sharing a similar cab with other FL-Series models. However, the line had a more promising offer when it came to engine options, as it included 10L to 13L offers. Some of the standard engines were the Caterpillar C12, MBE4000, Caterpillar C10, and Cummins ISM.

1997 Freightliner FLD132 (Classic XL)

Introduced to the US semi truck market in 1997, the Freightliner Classic XL was often mistaken for the Freightliner FLD Classic. It featured a giant 132” bumper-to-back-of-cab distance, appealing to owner-operators.


1997 Freightliner FLD132 Classic XL. (Source: Overdrive)

The FLD132 Classic XL combined both form and functionality, as it graced dual chrome stacks, dual air cleaners, and various chrome accents with powerful engines like the Caterpillar C15 and Detroit Diesel Series 60. Despite the model’s promising marketability, the line ultimately ended in 2009.

1997 Freightliner Century Class

Due to updated safety and technological requirements for over-the-road fleets in 1997, Freightliner discontinued the FLD series. However, it was replaced by a more promising line, the Freightliner Century Class. 

With the model year 2000, it was rebranded as the Century Class S/T, emphasizing safety and technology enhancements such as an improved driver seat belt system and driver-side airbags.


1997 Freightliner Century Class. (Source: Live Auction World)

The Century Class became Freightliner’s flagship model. However, it was discontinued in 2011 to make way for more updated Class 8 units. 

2000 Freightliner Argosy

Debuting in 2000, the Freightliner Argosy replaced the FLB cab-over model. Its production spanned nearly 20 years, making it one of the longest-running cab-over trucks available in North America.


2000-Freightliner Argosy. (Source: GoMotors)

Because of its significant length of production, the Argosy continued to be produced for international markets and as glider kits for North American customers after 2007. This makes Argosy one of the most competitive semi-trucks in the reselling market, as there are still numerous parts available today. Furthermore, business owners can even create their own modified Argosy through their glider kits.

2001 Freightliner Cascadia

The Freightliner Cascadia, introduced in 2001, succeeded the Freightliner Century as the most popular fleet truck. Available in various configurations, including day cabs and sleepers ranging from 48 to 72 inches, the Cascadia has undergone several updates over the years. 

These included exterior revisions like new chassis fairings and a modified hood, as well as interior upgrades such as LED lights and improved sleeping features. In 2020, Freightliner launched the eCascadia, an all-electric version of its Cascadia line.


2001 Freightliner Cascadia. (Source: Freightliner)

2001 Freightliner Columbia

Freightliner acknowledged the overwhelming demand for more affordable semi trucks in 2001. Because of this, the company created the Columbia, a less costly fleet vehicle. As expected, the model was highly preferred by companies.


2011 Freightliner Columbia. (Source: CIT Trucks)

The Columbia was considered a lower-end option for the flagship Cascadia. The unit also had numerous engine choices and was available in day cab and sleeper options. Columbia had a strong following among business owners until its last production in 2011.

2002 Freightliner Condor

Freightliner specifically considered the construction market when they designed the Condor in 2002. Manufactured as a Class 8 low-cab forward (LCF) vehicle, the unit sported a 68-inch measurement from the bumper to the back of the cab. Aside from this, it was also made available in both single- and dual-drive axle options.


2006 Freightliner Condor. (Source: Purple Wave)

Freightliner officially ceased the production of their Condor line in 2006.

2003 Freightliner Coronado

Freightliner unveiled the Coronado to the US market in 2003. The company took pride in its attempt to blend conventional aesthetics with comfort features. Designed with owner-operators in mind, it boasted distinctive components like an air inlet on the side of the hood. However, the Coronado line was ultimately discontinued in 2016.


2003 Freightliner Coronado. (Source: Purple Wave)

2003 Freightliner M2 Series

The M2 Series was considered one of the most famous medium-duty trucks on the market and the most popular one in all of Freightliner’s history. In 2003, it replaced the iconic FL-Series Business Class. Initially offered in 106” and 112” bumper-to-bumper cab sizes, the M2 featured innovative components like multiplex wiring and a chassis ECU.


2003 Freightliner M2 Series. (Source: BigIron Auctions)

While the M2 series started with numerous offers, it’s now only available in a 106” option. Despite this, it’s now the flagship unit for Freightliner’s electric variant, eM2.

2012 Freightliner 108SD, 114SD, & 122SD

In 2012, the American truck market shifted its demand to semi-trucks with better payload capacity. For this reason, Freightliner introduced the 108SD and 114SD trucks. 


2012 Freightliner 122SD. (Source: Auction Time)

The 108SD sported a 108-inch measurement, making it a Class 7 heavy-duty truck. On the other hand, the 114SD had a size of 114 inches, falling within the Class 8 market segment. Due to its popularity, in 2016, the Freightliner 122SD replaced the Coronado SD. The model was a severe-duty truck popular for its power, ruggedness, and versatility.

Experience the Power of Freightliner Truck Models

Freightliner remains one of the most competitive truck models on the market today. While their innovations surely make long-haul driving more convenient, bear in mind that your unit’s performance will still be dependent on how you take care of it. For that, getting high-quality semi-truck parts is a must.

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