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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

German version
The birth of a legend: the 300 engine series, first unveiled in 1949, is a major advancement
  • A lightweight diesel starts the ball rolling
  • The engine family causes a sensation worldwide
  • The design holds up until well into the 1990s

How it all started: the OM 312 was unveiled in 1949 with a displacement of 4.6 litres and an output of 90 hp.

A false start that turned out well in the end. The history of the 300 engine series, launched in 1949 for light and medium-duty commercial vehicles, was certainly not without drama.

Deep in the company archives were design drawings for an engine with the model designation OM 302 that had never been built. Conceived in the late 1930s, the engine had been conceived for use with small and medium-duty commercial vehicles and intended to power both in-house trucks and the Opel Blitz, a three-tonne vehicle very popular with the German army at the time.

Resolution to lose weight

It was precisely in this truck category that Mercedes-Benz had one small problem at the time: the company’s three-tonne L 3000 was just a little too heavy. For the same ‘contingency weight’ of two L 3000s it was possible to manufacture three equivalent Opel Blitz trucks. The Opel Blitz’s operational weight was around 20 percent lighter than that of the L 3000, and the Opel Blitz was also a robust and inexpensive vehicle.

Against this background, in autumn 1938 General Manager Dr. Wilhelm Kissel called for the development of a three-tonne vehicle that would be as light and as inexpensive as the Opel Blitz. The Gaggenau plant was commissioned with the order. From 1938 onwards developers at Gaggenau worked on the design of a four-cylinder diesel engine for light trucks. It was given the model designation OM 301 and was to achieve the unusually high rated engine speed of 3000/min. By comparison, 2200/min was a more common engine speed at the time. Equally unusual features of this engine were its bore and stroke parameters of 90/120 millimetres respectively – dimensions that would feature in all light diesel engines manufactured by Mercedes-Benz for many years to come.

“OM 302” was in-house code for the corresponding six-cylinder engine that designer Adolf Wente began work on in June 1940. The specifications were clear: as low a curb weight as possible, yet with a power rating of 80 hp and thus a relatively high rated speed of 3000/min. By comparison, the standard OM 65/4 engine used in the L 3000 was relatively heavy and reached its 70 hp rated output at 2250/min.

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