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Perkins Diesel - Baselines

Photography by Courtesy of the manufacturers

The Jeep Connection
Henry J. Kaiser was an American industrialist who made his fortunes in the construction, steel, shipbuilding, and the automotive industry. The combination of his "can do" attitude, combined with government contract support, made this man a household icon in the '40s and '50s. The man, best known for his construction of the Hoover, Bonneville, Grand Coulee, and Shasta dams along with Kaiser Steel, had entered the automotive market on August 9, 1945. After several years of trying to compete with the Big Three, he cut his losses and sold his massive Willow Run Michigan plant to General Motors. On a whim, he purchased Willys-Overland in 1953. Willys- Overland was the main producer of the famous Jeep during World War II and had made the brand a household name. For his $62 million purchase, Kaiser had quietly found a way to cut his losses from his Kaiser-Frazer operation, stay in the automotive business, expand Jeep and surviving Kaiser sales, create a global operation, and allow his brother Edgar to become its president. Kaiser Jeep, now operating as a subsidiary of Kaiser Industries, had always been in the back of Henry's mind. His ex-partner Frazer, in the Kaiser-Frazer automotive venture, had been president of Willys-Overland during the war years. In addition, Willys had supplied the inline powerplants for both their car brands, and its production was now moved to Toledo, alongside the Jeep.

The Jeep now had to share its production, along with a full line of passenger car brands, including the Kaiser, and the Henry-J. All of these brands were now produced for export from Toledo, Ohio, Argentina, Brazil, India, and Spain. For this reason, the powerplant selection varied, depending on the local availability of fuels.

The Jeep brand, most well known for its military MB series and the newer CJ-2, were assembled in all of these locations, under license and in a variety of platform configurations. The inclusion of the well-known Perkins powerplant was a natural.

Introduced to the U.S. market as an add-on option in 1961, the Perkins diesel inclusion was an afterthought, for both the CJ-5 and CJ-6 Universal series. The diesel had been successfully used in the rest of the world in the CJ-3B. The CJ-3 and CJ-3B maintained the traditional flat-fendered design of the earlier Jeeps, and in order to use the new 70hp Hurricane gasoline-powered inline-four, the hood, cowl, windshield, and grille of the CJ-3B were modified.

All of the CJs produced globally could be equipped with the established and rugged Perkins 192 diesel. Here was a powerplant that had an exceptional power-to-weight ratio. At 477 pounds, it produced 62 brake hp at 3,000 rpm, with a maximum torque output of 143 lb-ft at 1,350 rpm. This inline-four used a one-piece cast-iron block and crankcase. Its cylinder head, camshaft, and five main bearing caps were also cast. Its displacement of 192.2 cubic inches had a bore and stroke of 3.50x5.00 inches. The mini diesel used five main bearings and had a compression ratio of 16.5:1. Its firing order was 1, 3, 4, and 2. The head used overhead valves. The unit was also equipped with a distributor-type fuel pump, fitted with a hydraulic governor. The Perkins Spherical Combustion Chambers System used a combination of direct and indirect injection systems, allowing the advantage of cold-starting combined with low heat loss, lower fuel consumption, and more efficient operation. Diesel fuel was obviously used but not always with the best operational grade, depending on location. The unit was combined with a three-speed synchromesh transmission running through a single-plate, dry-disc clutch. A hypoid semi-floating rear axle was used. Overall ratios were 3.54:1, 4.56:1, or 5.38: 1. Of particular note was the fact that no chassis or body alterations were needed to drop in this new option.

Though the Perkins diesel option was dropped without fanfare in the U.S. in 1961, the configuration continued on into the early '90s on a custom-order basis. Now offered by Nissan since it had purchased the assets of Motor Iberica in 1985. These venerable CJ-3B platforms were last offered with four- and five-speed manual transmissions, larger-diameter manual brakes, with power steering and brakes additionally listed. VIASA/EBRO new old parts, along with the tooling for the 3B, still exists in Valencia and Zaragoza, Spain.

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