6 June 2017

More than an old car #13: Mercedes L-Series truck

I believe many of you have come across these type of trucks in Malaysia, whether it is carrying timber along Genting Highlands or transporting produce. You may also notice how noisy and polluting they can be, when you hear the loud braap sound and see black smoke spewing out from the overhead exhaust. However, these 'generic' road-runners have a name-- the Mercedes-Benz L-series truck.

It is also known as the 'short-bonnet' truck or Kurzhauber in German, as the engine intruded into to cabin under the windshield in order to fulfill German regulations at that time. First introduced in 1959, production was surprisingly long as it ended in 1995. During its existence, it was exported all over the world, thereby contributing to its longevity. Iran is still producing them even until today!

The L-series had many variants and was classified based on its weight and the engine horsepower. It was powered by the Mercedes OM352 5675 cc inline-6 engine [6-cylinder engine]. The one in the picture is believed to be a 1980s L911 model, where '9' means 9 tons and '11' means 1100 horsepower. A distinguishing factor which I noticed between the newer and older trucks is the absence of a line dividing the centre grille. Note that the truck in the picture only has a flimsy piece of wood/metal as a door--this gives a whole new meaning to open-air driving!

Mercedes engineered these trucks such that it became rugged, being capable of handling harsh terrain and even carrying up to 3 times its maximum weight. It proved to be very popular in the Middle East during the oil exploration period, as most roads back then were not paved. Speed was not the crucial factor, so it only had a top speed of 90 km/h.

Singapore did have these trucks back in the 1980s based on pictures, but it has become extinct due to regulations. All is not lost as you can still see them across the Causeway, but do remember that they are living pieces of history!

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