The First Diesels

By Paul Riegler on 5 December 2009
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Many people don’t realize that diesel-powered passenger cars date back to the mid-1930s.

1936 Hanomag Rekord

1936 Hanomag Rekord

Although the Mercedes-Benz 260D and the Hanomag Rekord Diesel Typ D 19A were both introduced at the 1936 Berlin Automobile Show, the Mercedes was the first to go into production so it is generally regarded as the first production diesel car.

The Rekord was equipped with a 1900 cc motor with 35 hp.  It was offered as a two- or four-door sedan and as a two-door cabriolet.  In 1939, it was renamed the Hanomag Diesel Typ 19 K and production continued until 1940.

Another early diesel was the Peugeot 402.

Peugeot 402 ca. 1939

Peugeot 402 ca. 1939

The petrol version of the car was introduced in 1935 and was notable for its streamlined design, with both headlights placed behind the grill.  A diesel version was introduced in 1938 and sported a 2.3-liter engine.