The first diesel car invented was also the first
biofuel car. Rudolf Diesel showed off the first Diesel engine
in Augsburg, Germany in 1893 and it ran on peanut oil. In 1892
Diesel applied for a patent in Germany and in 1898, he was granted
a U. S. patent as well.
At the 1900 Paris, France World Fair Rudolf Diesel showed off
his engine and was given the Grand Prix award for excellence.
But, the first diesel engines did not go into cars, trucks or
The first diesel engines were used in the shipping industry. In
1898, Rudolf Diesel licensed his new engine to the Branobel Russian
oil company for use as an engine in a ship. In 1903 the first oil
tanker propelled by a diesel engine is launched and in 1904, the
French build the first diesel-powered submarine.
It was until 1912 that the first train with a diesel engine was
introduced by the Danish. In 1922 the first land vehicle without
a track, a tractor by Mercedes-Benz was built with a diesel engine.
Finally, in 1923, the first truck with a diesel engine was introduced
by Daimler, Benz and MAN.
The Cummins "Diesel Special" racecar was driven at both
Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 in 1931 and did not have to make
a single pit stop. In 1933 an older Bentley fitted with a diesel
engine was the first of its kind to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally.
In 1934, the Diesel Cummins Indy Car made another appearance (both
are pictured above).
In 1933, the Citroën Rosalie (pictured above) was introduced
as the first production passenger car to be powered by a diesel
engine. Because of legal restrictions on the diesel engine, the
car did not go into production until 1935.
Shortly afterward, in 1936 the Mercedes-Benz 260D and the Hanomag
Rekord diesel cars were introduced into the marketplace. Because
of the size and weight of the diesel engine, however, they did not
flourish in the automotive industry like gasoline-powered cars did.
They remained in trucks and larger vehicles.
In the 1950s and 1960s diesel cars were slowly re-introduced to
the public on a limited basis. Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Austin, Isuzu,
Fiat, and several others began introducing diesel driven taxis,
ambulances, station wagons and a few other autos.
In 1967 the Peugeot 204BD was introduced as the first high speed
diesel car. In 1976, the Volkswagen Golf diesel was marketed to
the public. Since this time, turbo charged, fuel injected diesel
engines and low emissions diesel cars have hit the market.
If fact, today in Europe some of the lowest polluting vehicles
are not hybrids, but rather low emissions, clean burning diesel