Just 40 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 set a record: more than 50,000 km covered in 8 days, i.e. an average speed of 247.9 km/h.
In 1983, the German manufacturer launched the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 (W 201)the top-of-the-range model of the ancestor of the Mercedes C-Class. This version 16 valves developed a power of 185 horsepowerfor a displacement of 2,299 cm3: the sporty “Baby Benz” was able to swallow the 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds, a remarkable figure for the time.
To make people talk about the model when it was launched, the teams of the Stuttgart manufacturer sent during the month ofAugust 1983 three copies of the 190 E 2.3-16 on the Nardò circuit, in southern Italy. All three models were color coded to identify them, and the ‘green’ team vehicle is now on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
The three cars established several world records on the Nardò high-speed circuit, between August 13 and 21, 1983: the fastest 190 E 2.3-16 covered a distance of more than 50,000 kilometersin 201 hours, 39 minutes and 43 seconds, a average speed of 247.9 km/h. In addition to this feat, the trio set two other world records over 25,000 kilometers, and nine category records.
Four weeks after this record, Mercedes presented the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 to the public for the first time at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, and the engine reliability of the “Baby Benz” marked his history.
The vehicles used on this occasion corresponded “almost” to the production models, with their four-cylinder M 102 16-valve 185-hp engines. However, the injection system and ignition have been adapted to achieve this high-speed driving record, at an engine speed of around 6,000 rpm. The models were also equipped with a “performance” camshaft, a smaller radiator and did not have a fan, the high speed being sufficient to naturally cool the mechanics.
The grille was covered with a mosquito net, while a new radiator grille was fitted, helping to reduce aerodynamic drag. There were also solid rims as well as a 30 millimeter lowering of the suspension, and a fairing under the engine compartment and the underbody, here also for improve aerodynamics.
The model was also lightened, with the removal of reverse gear, power steering and even the rear seat. During their performance, the three examples of the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 made regular pit stops to change drivers, refuel and clean the windows. Every 17,000 kilometres, a longer stop, of exactly 5 minutes, was necessary for the mechanical overhaul : the brand’s teams had to change the tyres, engine oil, oil filter and spark plugs in record time.
Mercedes is used to records on the Nardò circuit : in 1976, 1978 and 1979, ten distance world records and two time records were also set in Nardò, with the different diesel and petrol versions of the Mercedes-Benz C 111.
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