In February 1936, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 260 D (W138), the world's first passenger car with a diesel engine. The 260 D on display for the first time at the Internationale Motorrad- und Automobil ausstellung in Berlin, just over fifty years after Carl Benz's very first petrol-powered car. The diesel was the trendsetter of its time. It was not only powerful, but also thirty percent more efficient than a petrol version. The Mercedes-Benz 260 D forms the basis for the name that the brand still has in the field of innovative diesel technology to this day.
Mercedes-Benz and the diesel engine are inextricably linked. The first Benz truck with a self-igniter was launched on the market in 1923. After experimenting with different diesel engines, Mercedes-Benz decided in 1934 to convert the proven six-cylinder diesel truck engine for use in passenger cars.
The result was a 2,6 liter four-cylinder diesel engine with overhead valves and a crankshaft bearing five bearings. The engine used the Bosch diesel injection system and produced 45 hp at 3000 rpm. The 260 D weighed 1530 kilos and could reach a speed of 95 km / h. With an average consumption of 9,5 liters of diesel, the 260 D with the so-called OM 138 engine reached a distance of more than four hundred kilometers, which was extremely convenient given the small number of European filling stations.
Even for post-war standards, this diesel passenger car was economical. Compared to the Mercedes-Benz 200 petrol version, the 260 D consumed four liters of fuel per hundred kilometers less. And although a liter of diesel in 1936 cost only 17 Pfennig - half of a liter of petrol - it was an additional reason for calculating taxi drivers to choose the diesel version from Mercedes-Benz.
Set of different models
Mercedes-Benz built a range of different models including a sedan, a landaulet and a convertible. From 1936 to 1940, 1967 copies of the 260 D were produced. Except for the installation of glow plugs for an easier cold start, Mercedes-Benz made hardly any changes to the engine during the construction period.
That was not necessary at all, because the 260 D proved to be a reliable mileage eater. Taxi drivers in particular loved the model; Until well into the 260s, 1100 D models could therefore be found at the taxi ranks. Mercedes-Benz also used the diesel engine for other purposes, for example to drive the L 1500 / L XNUMX vans.
Since the world premiere of the 260 D, Mercedes-Benz has continued to refine its diesel technology year after year and the history of the diesel engine has peaked one after the other. There was the first diesel passenger car with a five-cylinder engine (240 D 3.0 W115 from 1974), the first luxury sedan from Mercedes-Benz with a turbo diesel engine (300 SD W116 from 1977) and the introduction of CDI technology with common rail injection in the C 220 CDI in 1997, but also the arrival of BlueTEC in the E 320 BlueTEC as well as the development of Diesel Hybrid variants were milestones in the Mercedes Benz diesel history.