Rear-Engine Mercedes-Benz

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From 1931 to 1939, Daimler-Benz AG produced three cars (Mercedes-Benz 130, 150 and 170 H) with rear engine as well as a few prototypes. The production numbers remained quite low for each of these models, especially compared to the production of classical front-engine Mercedes cars.

Development and prototypes (W17/W25D)

At the beginning of the 1930s, inspired by the modern streamlined shape, there were attempts to move the engines from the forward compartment to the rear of the car. Such a move allows to decrease the volume of the front compartment. At the same time, the voluminous rear provides a lot of space above and behind the rear axle. Moreover, when fitted on the drive axle shaft were eliminated. The most famous such development was with the Tatra cars under the leadership of Hans Ledwinka.

In 1930, Daimler-Benz AG entrusted Hans Nibel with the development of a small rear engine car based on the same principles. In 1931 the type W17 or 120 was created, a four-seat, equipped with two doors, vertical front and rear wheels and a four-cylinder boxer engine in the rear, with a displacement of 1200 cc and a power of 25 hp (18.4 kW). There were also attempts to row across built four-cylinder engines. In 1933 Mercedes built a vehicle with a front similar to the VW Beetle later and a far extensive tail. The front wheel of the type W25 D or 175 is slanted or tilted backwards, in the middle of the tail fin attached hood divides the oval rear window, so it anticipated the small oval two piece rear window of the Beetles known as "pretzel form". The "D" referred to the three-cylinder diesel engine OM 134 with an output of 30 hp (22 kW), but due to high noise level, this vehicle was again rejected. From this type, 12 test cars were assembled

Mercedes-Benz 130 (W23)

Mercedes-Benz 130 (1935)
Mercedes-Benz 130 (1935)

The Mercedes-Benz 130 was presented in February 1934 at the Berlin Car Show. The car was powered by a four-cylinder 1308 cm³ engine installed longitudinally in the rear compartment. The motor had a power of 26 PS (19 kW) and was able to propel the small two-door coach at a speed of 92 km/h. The synchronised four-speed gearbox (which would be called later 3 + E by VW) is accommodated in front of the rear axle, the balance being provided by coil springs. The front axle was equipped two cross-leaf springs.

The car was sold as a sedan, an open-top sedan or a convertible (with and without cabrio cover and without side windows), each being fitted with two doors. Due to its extreme unbalance (⅔ of the mass on the rear axle), the car had a very awkward handling. Because of the low sales volume, the model was discontinued in 1936.

Mercedes-Benz 150 (W30)

The Mercedes-Benz 150 was derived in 1935 from the 130 with only two seats and a more powerful engine, with 1498 cm³ and a power of 55 PS (40 kW). The top speed of the car was 125 km/h.

The car was only offered as a Sport Roadster. The gas tank, which in the case of the Mercedes-Benz 130 was installed over the engine, was transferred to the front compartment, and therefore there was no room for luggage there. The practicality of the 150 was therefore very limited, and the price of the car was quite high at 6600 RM ; as a comparison the Mercedes-Benz 170 V had a price of 5500 RM. The car was discontinued in 1936 due to poor sales.

Mercedes-Benz 170 H (W28)

Mercedes-Benz 170 H (1936)
Mercedes-Benz 170 H (1936)

In 1936, in parallel to the classical front-engine Mercedes-Benz 170 V, Daimler-Benz AG introduced the Mercedes-Benz 170 H which had the same engine as the 170 V, with an architecture derived from the one of the 130, its predecessor. The 170 H was powered by a four-cylinder 1697 cm³ engine with a power of 38 PS (28 kW).

The car was significantly more expensive than the 170 V (two-door sedan 170 V - 3750 RM, 170 H - 4350 RM) and had much less room in the trunk, a much louder engine and a bad handling — better however than the one of the 130 - to offer. It was however more comfortable equipped and was therefore considered as a "finer" car, but sold much less than the 170 V. Apart from the sedan, there was still a convertible sedan as well. Production stopped in 1939 due to the War and the low demand.

Because these cars, unlike the sister model with front engine were not widely used, and also not suitable for conversion to wood gas generator, these vehicles were not confiscated by the Wehrmacht . Therefore an above-average number of models survived in private hands without damage to the war but have been used to exhaustion in the early post-war years. Today, these cars remain among the rarest and most sought-after Mercedes-Benz models.


The source of this article is :

  • Oswald, Werner: Mercedes-Benz Personenwagen 1886-1986, Motorbuch-Verlag Stuttgart 1987, ISBN 3613011336

This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding German Wikipedia article as of 3 April 2008.