Mercedes-Benz 260 D is First Produced

The Mercedes-Benz 260 D was the second diesel engined production passenger car and was introduced in 1936.

It was named in reference to its engine's cubic capacity. Nearly 2,000 vehicles were assembled until 1940, when the Daimler-Benz group had to devote itself entirely to military manufacture.
The 2545 cc overhead valve, 4 cylinder engine employed the Bosch diesel injection system and produced 45 bhp (34 kW) at 3000 rpm. The car weighed approximately 1530 kg and could attain a top speed of 95 km/h.
The chassis was based on contemporary Mercedes technology and had transverse leaf spring independent front suspension and swing axles at the rear. The brakes were hydraulic. A range of body types were made including saloons, landaulettes and cabriolets.
Two series were manufactured, 170 pullman-landaulets used only as taxis based on the W21 chassis, called the Nullserie from 1936 to 1937, with a three speed plus overdrive transmission, without syncromesh on the first gear, and, from 1937 on, the regular production 260D based on the W143 chassis, with a four speed fully synchronized transmission.
A surviving example of the car is displayed at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Germany.

Since the Diesel engine had proved to be highly suitable for commercial vehicles, Daimler-Benz decided to build a Diesel passenger car. In February 1936, the "260 D" was the sensation of the Berlin Motor Show. This car demonstrated the superior economy of a Diesel engine fitted to a suitably modified chassis. The 260 D was the first series production Diesel passenger car in the world. By 1940, 2,000 had been built.

The diesel revolution began in February 1936 when the Mercedes-Benz 260 D (W 138 series) – the world’s first production car with diesel engine – was displayed at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Shown in Berlin. Its 2.6 liter four-cylinder engine with Mercedes-Benz pre-chamber combustion and Bosch injection pump developed 45 hp at 3200/min and was installed in the chassis of the gasoline-engined 200 model. Its average fuel consumption was just above nine liters per 100 kilometers, thereby remaining significantly below the 13 liters/100 km of the gasoline-engined 200. What’s more, a liter of diesel fuel cost just 17 pfennigs in 1936, less than half the price of gasoline. Taxi drivers were among the first to opt for this car right from the start – not least because it was also available with a spacious six-seater body. The fact that this car proved itself in arduous taxi operation also attracted private buyers to the showrooms. Since then, the diesel-engined passenger car has been securing a firm place for itself in the Mercedes-Benz model lineup – thanks to the farsight-edness of its creators.

As early as fall 1933 the first test engines with six cylinders, 3.8 liter displacement and 80 hp output had been fitted in test cars of the Mannheim model. However, engine vibrations had proved to be too much for the chassis, making use of this engine in passenger cars im-possible. In response to this, a four-cylinder diesel engine with the same cylinder dimensions was developed, and production maturity was reached in mid-1935 after protracted testing. From September 1936, the 260 D was offered with different bodies. The six-seater Pullman landaulet displayed at the motor show was complemented by three additional versions adapted from the 200: an enclosed Pullman sedan, the four-to-five-seater sedan and the four-to-five seater con-vertible B.

One year after its launch in Berlin, the 260 D was replaced by an improved version (just like the 230 which had replaced the long-wheelbase 200 in the interim). The fuel tank capacity was raised from 45 to 50 liters, thereby expanding the range of the economical compression-ignition engine still further. Another important novelty was introduced in early 1938 in the form of electrically heated glow plugs which facilitated starting of the cold engine.

By 1940, the production volume of the Mercedes-Benz 260 D had reached 1,967 units – not a lot in terms of absolute figures. And yet the world’s first diesel-engined passenger car was a great success because each unit impressively demonstrated the diesel engine’s advantages – longevity and fuel economy – in the passenger car as well. Hence, the 260 D laid the foundation for the continued success of the diesel-engined passenger car.

Although DaimlerChrysler has failed to put out any life-altering Mercedes info this morning, they have managed to put out a press release detailing the history of the world's first production diesel passenger car.

It all began in 1933 when Mercedes began testing a six cylinder 6.3-Liter diesel engine in their Manheim model. After continuous testing, engine vibration proved to be too great for the Manheim's chassis, which led to the development of a new four cylinder diesel engine with the same cylinder dimensions.

In 1936 with engine testing complete, the four cylinder 2.6-Liter diesel engine, which featured Mercedes-Benz pre-chamber combustion and a Bosch injection pump, was mounted in the chassis of a gasoline-engined 200 model. Later that year, consumers were introduced to the world's first diesel-powered passenger car at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Show in Berlin, via the Mercedes 260 D.

Although similar in styling to its gasoline counterparts, what set the 260 D apart was its fuel consumption - 9 liters per 100 kilometers, compared to gasoline engine's 13 liters per 100 kilometers. As if that wasn't enough to spark consumer's interest, at the time of the 260 D's introduction, diesel cost less than gasoline, but not by a small margin - the cost of diesel was less than half the cost of gasoline, a sure sign of the cost effectiveness of owning a diesel-powered vehicle.

Over the next few years, the Mercedes 260 D was replaced with new and improved versions and benefited from numerous upgrades, but in the end, the 260 D will always be remembered for one thing - it was the world's introduction to the many benefits a diesel-powered passenger car had to offer.