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Mercedes 616/617 turbo diesel Astro build

42723 Views 237 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  tinworm
NOTE- This is an old thread where all the images were lost due to broken links to photobucket in 2017. I have attempted to go through and upload images again, but some images may not necessarily apply to posts due to lack of availability years later

I been talking about this project, and after finally finding a "decent condition" Astro, time to start working on it!

The plan is to rip the OM616 65hp MB diesel out of my old Mercedes, adapt it to a NV3500 5-speed tranny, and put it in the astro van. The engine is also being mildly turbo charged. Its not built for it heat wise, but I should be able to get away with it, and a little extra oomph on hills would be much appreciated. Searching around, I discovered that the generation 2 passenger astro is only 600 lbs heavier than the 123 chassis MB I was previously using this engine in. I figure the generation 1 astro in the cargo version is closer to the 2 ton mark. The MB is around 3700 lbs.

Ultimately, for a fun swap project i am trying to build decent MPG manual tranny diesel work van. This engine was capable of 35 mpg in the MB with a .8 overdrive, the NV3500 I think is a .78, and I have to find a GM rear end that is close to 3.46, which was the MB rear end I had ready for my car. Stock, the 240 MB came with a 3.69, but with the turbo, a 3.46 would be better. Im not sure what the 1994 Astro has for a rear end, any ideas? If its not close, I will be grabbing another rear end from somewhere, or changing the gears.

Images of what the donor sedan looks like from wikipedia, the 207D that also was fitted with these motors (about the size of a express van), and a 1989 shorty recipient van-


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Hey Tin. was reading your (other) post this morning. Expensive adapter plate you have :banghead:
I would also go for a MB diesel. But a little heavier one. the 313 sprinter from MB( dodge sprinter over there??). half automatic trans..
But I have to figure it all out. All my option are still open because I`am still have to finish the suspension.

The rear axles from a astro / safari come in different set-ups.

Yeb, We have Diesels here and cheap to.. JY`s full off crashed German Cars / Van/ Light Trucks.
But don`t get me wrong.. I will have a high RPM diesel engine. Not a black cloud smoker..
At least 150HP.. Prefer a turbo 5 cylinder.. (if it fits..)
Keep us posted with your Diesel build Tin.. :banana:
Good Idea Gary. a `Name` and a badge in a cloud off Black Smoke.. :rofl: :rofl:

Nice story Tin, I`am not into MB. (yet) :mrgreen:
In the early days there where soms 4 bangers. No diesels in astro safari.. Ive seen iveco diesels put in our Vans:)..

12 years later I still have this van and have decided to make it run again (eventually). I was prompted by the discovery of all my old pictures of this project on an older external hard drive, so also intend to try and get a lot of the pictures back up on this thread. All were lost in the photobucket thing back in 17.

The van has spent the last 8 years living in a shed, and the only part I stole off it was the drivers seat, so if I can remember anything of where I was on this project, then I should be able to pick up up where I stopped once I clean 8 years of mouse crap out of it.

Here is its current state-
I remember this build, but it was a red one , correct?

Mine was 14 years in the ched, started a few weeks ago with the build
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