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The history of MAN - 6

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This was the period, unsuitably titled 'The Roaring Twenties', a description that the people at MAN, in the starting years, would certainly not have chosen. Germany emerged, after losing the first world war, carrying an enormous burden of reparations. In 1923, the population lived through the worst imaginable inflation with the ensuing loss of commercial orders.

MAN was in search of new fields of development, was however, no longer particularly happy with the cooperation with Saurer. Since the end of the war, they had been trying, with only modest success, to reduce the size of the Diesel engine for trucks. A more economical engine would of course, fit well in those difficult times.

The best production figure of 370 examples, reached in 1921 and brought in by the petrol-driven trucks, was a thing of the past. The Diesel engine would also have been good for the quite successful manufacturing of coaches, whose builders, despite or perhaps because of, the poor economy, apparently weren't doing too badly at all. After all, from 1924 onwards, MAN was selling buses with a lowered chassis (see picture 4), which were, for the first time, different from trucks, of course, they could not be compared with today's low-floor buses.

This obviously wouldn't work without the suppliers. Apparently, the diligence and meticulous work of a group of employees in other sections, not only in automobile-technology, was needed to convert an invention, which they had only seen on paper, into a practical product and, after exhausting testing, to help get it into mass production.

It would seem e.g., that the vehicle manufacturer was not in a position to take care of every detail, at least not with the necessary energy. The supplier on the other hand, had the advantage of having a limited operational area. Thus, at that time while Bosch was testing his injection systems, simultaneously, MAN and Benz were developing their engines.

From 1924, the first test-drives with a 10-HP-four-cylinder in the 4-tonner-truck took place. In contrast to Benz, MAN put their bets on the direct-injection. In 1925 they had arrived at 40 kW (55 HP) for a five-tonner and at the end of that year, the first vehicle (see picture 2), would be delivered. The customer, a brewery was very satisfied with the reliability, the only criticism was, that apparently, the beer had a slight taste of Diesel-fumes.

It might have been the exhaust fumes or the noise, which for a longer time, hindered the acceptance of the Diesel-powered truck. Certainly, it had edged out the petrol engine, somewhat later also in buses, however, the fact remains, that as far as MAN was concerned, until 1933, the building of trucks proved pretty much to be a losing deal. 07/14

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