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When Cars Were Built To Last Along With Their Style

Modern Cars

If you were to walk through a crammed car park whilst blurring your eyes, you’d be hard pressed to single out brands and models from a distance. The modern automobile – the majority of – has started to take on generic features and angular lines. Manufacturers like their cars to look mean from the front, which usually entails angry and slanted headlights combined with a sporty bumper. Whilst the average grocery-getter looks far better than the grocery-getter of yesteryear, cars have lost their individuality.

Mercedes-Benz 190e

This post stems from the video below and my love of old school German cars. Although I haven’t owned the gorgeous 280, I’ve owned a few Mercedes W124s and a 190E like the one pictured above.

Not only are they unbreakable and a joy to drive, their aesthetic design is simple yet beautiful – no aggressive lines, no day-running lights and LEDs, not in the least ‘messy’.

German car doors slamming with a solid and reassuring “thunk” may be a cliche, but it is very true. All the older Mercs I’ve owned were pushing 25 years old, but all of the electrics, switches and mechanics worked. Take a look at the 280 in the video below and take in the simple lines and gorgeous interior. It’s no powerhouse or sports car, but to me it represents what the average car should look like.

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Hipster Appeal, Petrolhead Heaven

If you’re unsure as to what a Hipster is, just think ‘Hippy’ with a little extra cash and a better haircut. The Hipster subculture takes elements of 1940s fashion and is derived from a movement from the same era. Hipsters are usually aged between 18-34, including the middle-class adult. You’ll never see a Hipster wearing mainstream clothing; they prefer thrift/vintage stores for that authentic look. Indie bands and labels are their choice of music. Sustenance would come from an independent sandwich shop or cafe and most definitely not a McDonalds or Burger King.  In one sentence, a Hipster is an independent thinker, possess progressive political opinions, appreciates art and creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

Most Hipsters prefer bicycles (especially fixed wheel) for transport, however, those selecting an automobile go for 80s, boxy and usually European. Mercedes are a good choice, but the king of the Hipstermobile is the Volvo. Take an 80s Swedish car (preferably a wagon/estate), remove the hub caps, add ironic bumper stickers and voila. Those willing to spill a drop or two of oil onto their vintage tweed or chequered shirts may even slam it.

Now this is where the second part of the title comes in. I agree the 80s boxy cars are fantastic looking and becoming fashionable again – think BMW E30 – and whilst I like the Hipster fashion and some of their attitudes and perceptions on the world, one of my biggest Hipster downfalls  is my lack of sympathy for the environment – the closest I’ve come to the whole wagon revival is owning a tuned 235-bhp Subaru WRX wagon.

Hipsters are P.C. in every way; they are open-minded and carefree. They wear sensible trousers, and horn-rimmed specs are a prerequisite to join the club.

So how would I fit in with my need to hoon whilst maintaining that Hipster vibe?

Okay, that’ll do nicely…

Not Quite A Sleeper Wagon But Still…

Here at Gargling Gas you’ll often find posts on wagons (estates) with either sleeper qualities or the X factor that pushes them from being a boring family-mobile into an uber cool ride.

The wagon pictured above looks like most wagons touched by the brand’s performance division. You know it probably has a V6 or V8 and is capable of producing 300+ bhp, however according to Brabus, this 850 6.0 Biturbo iBusiness is the “fastest and most powerful luxury sedan in the world”.

And I believe them because the stats are ludicrous, the sort of figures you’d expect to see on an F1 car.

Batman couldn’t handle this car but Darth Vader could… just. This Brabus 850 is based on the 2014 E63 AMG, with the Biturbo increasing the  5.5-L S-Model V8 to 5.9-L. This means you receive 850-bhp and a tarmac-creasing 1,069 ft-lbs of torque. All of this mechanical anger is transfered to the ground via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission, and to prevent it from exploding, the torque has been electronically limited to 848 lb-ft. Not to worry though as 62-mph comes in 3.1 seconds – they’ll certainly be no “are we there yets” from the kids. Should you feel the need, you can also hit 217-mph – that’s faster than a lot of supercars!

So whilst all the badges, exhausts, rims, disks and callipers suggest performance, they don’t suggest 850-bhp. So I guess in some respects this is a sleeper of sorts… just on an entirely different level.

Sleepers Have Got A Hold On Me

merc

Yep, I’m banging on about old Mercs again. Being a fan of Sleeper or Q cars, I couldn’t really  pass up the opportunity to write this post and perhaps prompt someone into buying and giving her good home.

After all, this is a real classic, one of the ‘last of the proper Mercedes’. The W123 is a timeless and over-engineered car quite capable of clocking up half a million miles if serviced correctly. This model – the 230E – wasn’t particularly fast, but then it wasn’t supposed to be; it was a solid car with a comfortable, reassuring and quiet ride. I owned the more powerful 260E with the inline 6, and although it was 20 years old, it was smooth, solid, no rattles, and all the electrics still worked.

Despite its lack of power, the 230E featured here as a trick up her sleeve in the form of a Mercedes 500E V8 transplant. Although there is some confusion regarding the previous model and its corresponding engine number (the M117 wasn’t installed into a 500E as the 500E received the M119), given a good servicing the M117 could probably achieve somewhere in the region of the 200+-bhp mark. The aforementioned 500E was actually called ‘the sheep in wolf’s clothing’ by the press as it could hit 62-mph in 5.5 seconds – no mean feat in 1990 for a big car.

The 230E pictured here would expect to hit 60-mph in around 12 seconds, the sort of car you’d expect to see a tweed-attired silver top trundling around town in for his newspaper and pipe tobacco.  With over double the engine displacement and with some modern bits and bobs replacing dated components, this sleeper could expect to match that of a modern hot-hatch. And let’s not forget this model is significantly lighter than the much larger 500E, so this is also a bonus.

The engine transplant was professionally undertaken, so no need to worry too much about that. I do wonder how the handling has been compromised, although I’m assuming this has been taken care of with stiffer front suspension.

It’s a bit scruffy, but considering her age, she’s in the initial restoration stage – she only needs the basics done to bring back to her former glory. If I had the space, but more importantly, an understanding wife (she doesn’t realise that cars have feelings too…) – I’d snap her up.

Here she is, the 230E Sleeper.

How Will F1 Fare With New 1.6L Turbo Units?

f1engines6

2013 will say farewell to the 2.4L V8 engines, and although displacement is down to a tiny 1.6L, KERS will still be a main component in power supply in 2014. The FIA initially wanted the replacement engine to be a four-cylinder unit, but Ferrari complained about the terrible noise they made, and being close to Bernie Ecclestone (CEO of F1) **nudge, nudge, wink wink ** it was eventually agreed the V6 would be the choice.

f1engines7

Pictured above is the first image released by Mercedes-Benz for the engine they’ll be using in 2014. Like the aforementioned BMW M12/13 engines, this small displacement unit will be turbocharged. That being said, the hp figures will be half of the crazy eighties era at around 750-hp. It’s reported the engines will be high-pitched, and due to the turbo spooling at 125,000-rpm, it will be very loud.  These engines also produce more torque, especially coming out of corners, so from a spectator view the sport should appear more exciting.

Throw in KERS with twice the previously regulated amount of power (80-hp for 6.7 secs upped to 161-hp for 33.3 secs) and you’ll be witnessing a true test and ability of modern science and technology.

The design and use of a completely different engine it a massive deal for an F1 team, from weight to placement, aerodynamics and a thousand other aspects. So it seems whoever is the most dominant in 2013, doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in 2014.

I’m looking forward to 2014 and can’t wait to hear the combined sound of all those turbo-powered beasts revving before the lights turn green.