Originally produced in 1975 through a collaboration between Caterpillar and Ford, the Cat 3208 diesel engine was extremely popular through its entire production run, which lasted into the early 1990s. The engine was used in heavy trucks, including tractor trailers, garbage trucks, school buses and construction equipment. The engine was also used in power plant and marine applications. Use of the engine was widespread and its performance was reliable; as a result, many 3208-equipped vehicles remain in service long after production of the engine ceased.
The 3208 is an eight-cylinder, four-stroke diesel engine with a V-8 configuration. It has a 114.3-millimeter bore and a 127-millimeter stroke. Different variations of the engine weigh between 722 and 899 kilograms. The engine displaces 10.4 liters. It has a cooling system capacity of between 47.3 and 56 liters and a lube oil system capacity of between 12 and 15 liters.