Classic American


The diesel engine is a brilliant design which, due to its fuel efficiency, high torque, ruggedness and reliability, has powered most of the world’s ships, lorries, buses, coaches, generators, cranes and heavy construction and farm machinery for the best part of the last hundred years.

The invention of the diesel engine is credited to Rudolf Diesel. The German set up a workshop in Paris in 1885 to work and develop his idea of a ‘spark-less’ compression ignition engine, but it wasn’t until 1898 that diesel engines went into production. His ideas were widely copied. In 1903, the first diesel-powered ships went into service and in 1910 the first diesel-powered ocean liner was launched. During the First World War, American, French and German submarines were powered by diesels. In 1913, a debt-ridden Rudolf apparently committed suicide by jumping overboard the SS while crossing the Channel en route to important business meetings in England. Whether he jumped or was pushed remains a mystery. However, had he lived he would have almost certainly have become mega-wealthy as during the Twenties diesels really took off and

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