The W115-Based “La Pickup” Was a Mercedes-Benz El Camino ""

By | November 17, 2017

Mercedes-Benz 220D El Camino

Although we liked the Mercedes-Benz X-class pickup when we drove it in Chile last month, the company is probably right in not bringing it to the U.S. market: It’s too small to compete with American full-size trucks, and with its current 2.3-liter four-banger, it would fall short of the power desired by our market. How about something different, such as a passenger-car-based pickup? Mercedes-Benz built one before, an El Camino for the Argentine market.

Mercedes-Benz once built a pickup version of its indestructible W115-body mid-size sedan, and it was offered with a single or double cab. The pickup was assembled in Argentina between 1972 and 1976, at a time when it was forbidden to import cars and trucks into the country. But it was possible to assemble them locally in the form of CKD (completely knocked down) production, with imported mechanical and body parts. The truck was made at Daimler’s González Catán production site, a plant that’s currently gearing up for production of the Sprinter.

Mercedes-Benz 220D El Camino

Affecionately called La Pickup in Argentina, this W115 is powered by the sturdy OM615 2.2-liter diesel engine, rated at a modest 60 horsepower. It was mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.

The two-door version is arguably prettier; the weird-looking four-door pickup kept the door frames of the sedan but got an upright rear window. Both versions were fitted with upright taillights.

Most of the trucks remained in Argentina, where they have become a rare sight. A few were brought to Europe; the example photographed here was used by Stuttgart’s SSB railway company, where it was used by personnel in charge of lubricating switches. It was later purchased by a private owner and converted into a camper. That’s why the tailgate is closed off and the vertical taillights have been replaced by the horizontal taillights of the sedan. Pretty, but not original.

The 220D La Pickup is the closest you can get to a German El Camino. Of course, a 60-hp diesel won’t quite cut it when compared to its U.S.-made brother in spirit. Even as a sedan, the 220D’s top speed was a mere 83 mph. It is safe to assume a La Pickup could barely scratch 80 mph.

But there is inspiration here for a Mercedes pickup that could be sold the United States. We want a modern E-class La Pickup.

Mercedes-Benz-220D-El-Camino- Reel

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