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As the Grumman LLV is phased out of service, interest in the United States Postal Service’s iconic mail truck has increased. And that is understandable. The LLV entered into service in the late 1980s and it has been delivering mail and packages ever since. With the majority of Grumman LLV models coming up on at or over 30 years of use, it makes sense that the USPS is in the process of getting a new mail truck. But, what is the old USPS mail truck engine, and what is its history?

The Grumman LLV was built to last

The Grumman LLV first entered into production in 1987. LLV stands for “Long Life Vehicle” and this truck has certainly lived up to its name. Originally, this mail truck was supposed to have a lifespan of 24 years. But, as the USPS put it to the test, that number has been extended to 30 years, and that is fairly impressive. 

The LLV shares its chassis with the Chevy S-10 Blazer and is made by General Motors. But, the body and final assembly are done by Grumman. Some of the GM influence on this mail truck can be seen in things like its gauge cluster and front suspension. 

The Grumman LLV does have an interesting quirk though as if being a mail truck wasn’t enough. As discussed in this video, the LLV does not have to have a license plate. Since 1973, certain government vehicles do not have to follow standard regulations. Because of this, the LLV does not have a license plate fitted to it. 

Which engine does the Grumman LLV use?

In terms of engine use, the Grumman LLV initially came outfitted with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine known as the “Iron Duke.” This engine was mated to a three-speed, automatic transmission which helps with the low speeds that this vehicle typically operates at. Later in production, a 2.2-liter engine was used but it was only in LLV models produced in 1993 and 1994.

A Grumman LLV mail truck delivers some mail. It may have an Iron Duke engine.
USPS mail truck | IFCAR

While these engines are fairly reliable, it is worth noting that the LLV does not get good gas mileage. With all of the stop-and-go driving that mail carriers do, the average MPG of a mail truck is about 10. So, it does make sense that USPS is working to update its fleet of mail trucks. 

Is a mail truck comfortable to drive?

Simply put, the Grumman LLV was built to deliver mail, not to be a comfortable daily vehicle. While it may have a tight turning radius and right-hand drive configuration of convenience, it lacks air conditioning and the heater is not the best. 

A Grumman LLV mail truck sits in a local neighborhood with USPS livery.
Grumman LLV | IFCAR

When it comes to handling winter weather, the LLV is also not great. Due to its low front ground clearance, dealing with snow can be a difficult task in this mail truck. And mail carriers aren’t necessarily taking snow days when the mail needs to be delivered. 

The new Oshkosh NGDV should help to remedy some of these comfort issues. And, it will come with an engine that is slightly more efficient. According to MotorTrend, the Oshkosh NGDV can also come outfitted with an electric powertrain. Which eliminates the need for a traditional combustion engine for the mail trucks of the United States Postal Service.


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