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English   The birth of a legend: the 300 engine series - first unveiled in 1949 - is a major advancement
12.05.2009 von admin

Petrol-driven variants ordered by NATO

Meanwhile, a petrol variant, the OM 352, managed to hold its own for a certain period; from 1966 to 1977 this unit was to be found as a 130 hp unit mainly in NATO supply vehicles under the model designation M 352.

With the development of the OM 352 and OM 314 in the 1980s, the 300 series seemed to have exhausted all possibilities – increased displacement in conjunction with a higher load was no longer possible. After 30 years, developers were now keen to usher in a new era with a completely new engine series. New engine types were developed: a four-cylinder engine with a 4.7-litre displacement, and a six-cylinder engine with a 7.0-litre displacement instantly met demands for lower consumption and emissions, in conjunction with greater load capacity. There was also inherent potential for further refinements. Everyone was delighted. Looking back today, engine developer Körner recalls: “It was a fantastic engine. Even Prinz, the Chairman of the Board of Management, was keen on the idea.”

But before the new engines could be manufactured, the Board of Management put the brakes on: required investment was too high. The new engines were expected to cost DM 150 million, and that was considered too much. The project was shelved and the engines were mothballed in a basement of the test department, seen only by a handful of interested customers who gave them the nickname ‘basement engines’.

The 300 series begins its lap of honour

The developers did not give up, however. Even though development options for the 300 series seemed to have reached a stumbling block on account of the long-stroke design and the short cylinder interval alone, the developers were commissioned with the task of once again updating the engines. Instead of DM 150 million for the new engines, the Board of Management now allocated only DM 20 million for advanced development of the existing ones.

There was a desire to start again from scratch. The objectives were challenging: increased output, reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, longer service life and reduced susceptibility to malfunctions. No stone was left unturned. The cylinder bore was again increased by 0.5 millimetres to 97.5 millimetres, and the piston stroke was extended by 5 millimetres to 133 millimetres, resulting in a
3.97-litre displacement for the four-cylinder engine and a 5.96-litre displacement for the six-cylinder engine.

The 300 series engines revved up one last time with 4.0 and 6.0-litre displacements; with turbocharging and intercooling they even managed to meet Euro 2 standards.

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