CC Outtake: Relics From The Great Bio-Diesel Era

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There’s still a few diesel lovers in my neighborhood, but the numbers are fading fast. Or more like bio-diesel lovers, who bought diesel cars (old Mercedes mostly) and trucks during the Great Bio-Diesel Era. That’s all kind of smoked out over the past few years, accelerated recently by the Great VW Diesel Fraud. Suddenly driving a diesel is not at all cool, like it was a while back.Fads do come and go…

These folks have hung on to their relics from that era, although the poor old Benz is probably not clattering much these days. I’m not too sure about the gen1 Cummins Dodge. Mementos of another time.

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The W115 300D is a pioneer, the first five cylinder diesel and the first Mercedes diesel to not run like a total slug. It was a pretty big deal when it arrived in 1974, called the 240D 3.0 in Europe, since Mercedes wasn’t yet about to tarnish the magic “300” number with a mere diesel. With a mighty 80 hp, it was the rocket of diesels.

A well-heeled engineer at the tv station in LA bought one of these early ones, and showed off its acceleration prowess to up and down Cotner Avenue. It sounded faster than it was, by a substantial margin. 0-60 came in about 18-20 seconds, depending on the source, almost ten seconds faster than the 240D. And it would top out at 92 mph, eventually. That was rather impressive.

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And here’s another pioneer, the first American pickup with a genuine truck-caliber diesel engine. It was a brilliant stroke by Dodge and Cummins, as Dodge pickups were really languishing about the time the first Cummins came along in 1989. What a life-saver. And its become rather iconic.

These gen1 Cummins Dodges have become rather scarce on the ground, although I suspect it’s not so likely because the basic engine wore out. More likely the third or fourth transmission.