Friday, 19 September 2008

Looking back to go forward

One of the things I enjoy about reporting motoring news is spotting ideas that have been tried before. Last week I was writing about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class BlueEFFICIENCY range. One feature of the frugal Merc that didn’t warrant a mention in the article was the back-to-front layout of the engine.

Just about every car engine has the drive for the camshaft at the opposite end of the engine to the clutch and flywheel. For the new diesel motor Mercedes placed the camshaft drive at the back of the engine. Justification for the layout is to provide a little more clearance under the bonnet for pedestrian protection.

Mercedes isn’t pretending that the layout is a new invention but it did remind me that several engines back in the early days of motoring used a similar configuration. The example that comes to mind immediately is AC’s long-lived 2.0-litre six-cylinder motor. The one question I have over the layout is what happens if you need to change the chain that drives the cam shaft?

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