I read with great interest your article on “The Diesel Background”. In 1953 my father visited Stuttgart and bought a Mercedes-Benz 170DS which we still have in daily use in Uruguay.
This car, which was originally supplied with every possible extra from leather upholstery (which hasn’t needed renewing) to fitted suitcases, has certainly lived up to its reputation for longevity and low running costs. My father used it in 1953 in Europe and Great Britain where it used to stir interest and where, he recalls, fuel was difficult to obtain. Once, while in Scotland, he had to borrow some from a farmer’s tractor in order to continue his travels. In September, 1953, he shipped the car to Uruguay at Le Havre. This 170DS required only one major engine overhaul, when it was nearing 400,000 kilometres and one gearbox overhaul when it had covered 600,000. It’s still in very sound condition, has covered about 700,000 kilometres, and we never hesitate to use it even for very long trips up to places where a breakdown might signify a minor tragedy as there we would have’to find someone who would be willing to tow the car to the nearest railway station and then have the vehicle shipped hack to Montevideo by train. But how could our old Mercedes break down? It has never failed us.
These 170DS cars are still being used as taxis in Uruguay and Argentina, having usually already covered several total million miles. They have a reputation for being stronger than the later 180DS model and this may well be true, as in Beunos Aires one can still see the 170DS taxis around but none of the 180DSs which used to abound.
The recent petrol price increase has particularly enhanced the local value of our Mercedes, as diesel-oil now costs about a third of what regular grade petrol costs in Uruguay.
Montevideo Alvaro Casal Tatlock