Perkins was an international company that produced diesel engines for many automakers, including Chrysler Corporation. It was founded in 1932 and purchased by Caterpillar in 1998. Its products included automotive diesel engines, marine engines, diesel-powered generator engines and diesel forklift engines. For many of these products, Perkins was a pioneer in the field and a leader in sales for years.
Perkins diesel engines were preferred in many applications, including taxicab, truck, and industrial engines, because of high low-end torque ratings and excellent fuel economy.
European Taxi Engines
Perkins diesel engines were used in Swedish taxi cabs, London taxis, Israeli cabs, and later, European-made Chrysler-Plymouth taxicabs.
Taxi companies began to prefer the comfort and size of American-designed vehicles, but fuel economy and gasoline prices gave concern. By installing Perkins diesel engines in these vehicles, a taxi company could utilise the more spacious American vehicles.
According to Allpar.com, an economical 45 to 60 horsepower diesel engine compared favourably with a 120-horsepower gasoline engine because diesel engines have high torque at low rpm.
American Taxi Engines
According to Allpar.com, Perkins produced over 10,000 marine diesel engines for use in World War II. Its next domestic contract was with Studebaker in the 1950s, for the production of engines for taxicab use. Plymouth, a division of Chrysler, also utilised Perkins diesel engines in taxicabs.
In May 1961, Popular Mechanics test drove a Plymouth taxicab with a 204-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine. It produced 72 horsepower and 170 foot-pounds of torque at 1,000rpm. This engine had a compression ratio of 16.5-to-1. Its highway economy was between 28 and 33mpg, and city economy measured between 19 and 22mpg.
Perkins produced engines for British-built Dodge trucks for several decades.
In 1961, Jeep began offering a 60-horsepower Perkins diesel which produced 143 foot-pounds of torque at 1,350rpm. One year later, Chrysler began to outfit Dodge trucks with Perkins diesel engines. The mid-1960s brought several new Perkins engines, including a 354-cubic-inch, inline six-cylinder diesel. This engine produced 120 horsepower at 2,800rpm and 260 foot-pounds of torque at 1,750rpm.
A 1976 Perkins 354-cubic-inch six-cylinder diesel engine produced 131hp at 2,800rpm and 284 foot-pounds of torque. Between its introduction and its final production run in 1996, over one million of these engines were made.
Perkins industrial engines are used in combines, construction equipment and other heavy machinery.
The 2010 Perkins 1104C-44T Industrial Power Open Unit produces 100 horsepower at 2,400rpm and 304 foot-pounds of torque at 1,400rpm.
The highest rated 2010 Perkins engine, the 1106D-E66TA, produces 275 horsepower and 702 foot-pounds of torque.