1949 Technical Export Fair Hanover: Mercedes-Benz presents important post-war novelties

1949 Technical Export Fair Hanover: Mercedes-Benz presents important post-war novelties
April 2009
  • 170 D and 170 S lays the foundation stone for the brand’s
    post-war passenger car success
  • L 3250: Euphoric reception and export pioneer
  • O 3250: Long-serving regular in passenger transport
Staged in May 1949, the Technical Export Fair was to provide companies, in particular German companies, with a significant economic stimulus in the years and decades ahead. This was true also for Mercedes-Benz. The brand unveiled its two new passenger car models, the , which heralded a sustainable development. The same Hanover fair also witnessed the premiere of the in the L 3250 truck and O 3250 bus, a unit that would continue to serve in light and medium-duty trucks for almost half a century. At the same time, this engine series – continually updated and modernised over the years to come – became the basis of the Group’s global presence in the commercial vehicle segment.
The Technical Export Fair was held in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Although the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 restored a certain degree of normality to everyday life – even from the economic point of view – the war and its consequences were far from forgotten. This was most evident in the industrial centres, where although the rubble had been cleared away, ruined shells that had not yet been replaced by new buildings continued to dominate the landscape.
So when the Mercedes-Benz 170 S came on the scene, it was as a veritable symbol of the ‘economic miracle’ that was just beginning. It was not much bigger than the 170 V, but with its short arm/long arm front suspension it was much more comfortable and overall more representative. The 1.8-litre engine developed 52 hp (38 kW). The body was manufactured using the latest all-steel design. Such a degree of sophistication was reflected in the prices: the saloon cost DM 9,850, whereas the Convertible B was priced at DM 12,500 and the exclusive and highly elegant Convertible A an impressive DM 15,800. For the years 1949 and 1950 that was the upper limit for the German passenger car market.
In contrast to the exclusive and comfortable 170 S model, the 170 D targeted predominantly customers who attached greater importance to economic efficiency. For this model the company returned to bodies from the existing 170 V model, produced in what was known as ‘composite construction’ – in other words, a wooden frame with sheet metal panelling. Technical progress was most noticeable in the engine of the 170 D, whose 38 hp (28 kW) delivered the same output as the petrol engine of the
170 V. This, together with the lower fuel consumption, of course, made the 170 D an attractive proposition – and made the diesel drive in passenger cars ‘socially acceptable’. Earlier models, such as the Mercedes-Benz 260 D of 1936, the world’s first production diesel passenger car, had been comparatively unimportant in the automotive scheme of things by virtue of their low unit numbers.
The Mercedes‑Benz 170 D was also offered with a self-conscious price tag – it came on the market costing 9,200 DM. In part this was devised as a damping measure to moderate the initial enthusiasm on the part of customers. For on the one hand there was only limited availability of supply for Bosch injection pumps, and on the other the company first wanted to direct attention towards the Mercedes‑Benz 170 S model.
All things considered, the 170 S and 170 D were very well received by the market, and the 170 V was also retained in the portfolio on account of its enduring popularity. All three were finally overtaken by the modern age in 1953. The Mercedes-Benz 170 S was replaced by the Mercedes-Benz 180 (“Ponton”) , in which Mercedes-Benz for the first time realised the advanced “ three box design” and self-supporting body. The 170 V and 170 D models were also updated. They were given the more spacious bodies of the 170 S/170 DS models and were built until 1955 as the 170 S-V and 170 S-D.
Premiere of the 300 engine series for commercial vehicles
The 300 engine series for commercial vehicles had first been conceived in the 1930s but for various reasons was never realised. Production of the OM 312, as the engine was designated, did not start until it had its own Mercedes-Benz three-tonne truck. The L 3250, presented in 1949, brought a sense of liberation for Daimler-Benz, since the existing three-tonner, the L 701 model, was based on the Opel Blitz – in the 1940s the Ministry of Armaments had ordered the vehicle to be built by both Mercedes-Benz and Borgward. At the same time, the O 3250 bus made its debut at the 1949 Technical Export Fair.
With its 90 hp (66 kW), the OM 312 proved a sensation in the early post-war years: the diesel engine had the same output per litre as a petrol engine. For this reason the
L 3250 truck received a euphoric welcome from trade experts. But the O 3250 bus allowed the diesel unit to demonstrate its power in urban, inter-urban and long-distance tourist traffic. Both commercial vehicles underwent a load capacity increase in 1950 and were subsequently given the designations L 3500 and O 3500.
No wonder, then, given the harmonious overall concept, that the vehicles attracted international attention – a fact that coincided with Daimler-Benz’s efforts to boost export sales. These efforts proved particularly effective in South America and India. By as early as 1950 the company had supplied 1000 completely knocked down (CKD) kits of the
L 3500 to Brazil, with orders for 2000 trucks and 500 bus chassis to follow.
Mercedes-Benz do Brasil was established in São Paulo in October 1953.
The OM 312 also made a career for itself in India. Here, too, an assembly plant for Mercedes-Benz trucks with a GVW of three tonnes and over was set up in the 1950s.
The 300 engine family saw the arrival of many new members in the years that followed. The developers kept pace with technological progress and continued to produce new variants. Not until 1996 did a successor appear in the form of the 900 engine series – although not even this completely spelled the end for the 300 series: today a unit with the designation OM 366 LA is still available in the L 1620 Classic truck produced in Brazil.


New elegance on a tried-and-tested basis: The Mercedes-Benz 170 S as a saloon, built from 1949.
Chrome trim on request: Customers could order the "Diesel" lettering on the radiator grille of the Mercedes-Benz 170 D Saloon (built from 1949 on) as they pleased.
First post-war cabriolet: the Mercedes-Benz 170 S as Cabriolet A, built from 1949 to 1951.
Diesel renaissance after World War II: Mercedes-Benz 170 D (W 136 I D series) from 1949
In 1949, the new OM 300 diesel engine series for commercial vehicles made its debut in the Mercedes-Benz L 3250 truck
Mercedes-Benz O 3250, May 1949.
Mercedes-Benz Typ O 3250 with all-weather roof, December 1949.