Very rarely do I check out Mercedes-Benz race cars because I don’t see many publicly for sale out there and just don’t have a ton of knowledge on them either. One does pop up for sale once in a blue moon and it usually is a pretty unique and purpose-built car. They also don’t come cheap at all. Today’s car, a 2017 AMG GT3, is all of those things. This car was built to go IMSA racing at the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship against other exotics that are built off production chassis that you probably recognize from Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Audi, Lamborghini, Ford and a few other brands. Not a cheap endeavor at all, but nothing is cheap when it comes to racing unless you buy a $500 car from Craigslist, spray paint some numbers on the door and go drive around on some dirt until the radiator starting boiling.
Tag: Motorsports Monday
I don’t really feature a lot of Mercedes-Benz race cars not because I don’t like them, but rather there just aren’t a whole lot of them out there. Very rarely do I see these kind of cars come up for sale as opposed to say a BMW E36. There really isn’t a ”go-to” Mercedes chassis for building a race car like the E36 and even cars that do tend to respond well to being stripped out, the aftermarket support is either lacking or very expensive. Although one Mercedes from the past 25 years does seem to be the favorite of the track rats alike, the W201.
This 1986 190E up for bid in Florida doesn’t have much left of its original engine and interior left of it, if any. The car has been totally stripped of basically everything including the original M103 inline-6 engine that was replaced with the next generation M104 3.2 inline-6. A 5-speed gearbox was bolted up to this car and nearly every single piece of the interior was removed to be replaced by the bare essentials. A single seat, a tachometer and some switches are all that remain inside this W201 that cut the weight to around 2,000 pounds. This doesn’t sound like a half bad combination now.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E on eBay
Continuing on the 944 theme, there are of course a few transaxles that actually are worth some big bucks right now. The development models – the 924 Carrera GT, GTS and GTR – are pretty well priced out of this world. In the 944 run, the Silver Rose cars are highly valued, too – but value-wise, they’re relative bargains compared to this car. Yet I’ll still claim that this car is a relative bargain compared to its contemporaries. Let me explain.
As a promotional series in 1986, Porsche teamed with Rothmans for sponsorship of a one-make support race series in Canada. The result was the 944 Cup, which ran normally aspirated lightweight examples of otherwise stock 944s in 1986 and 1987. Every once in a while, one of these rare rides (there were only 31 sold) pops up and we’ve covered them before. The big draw on these cars are the lightweight aspect thanks to no sunroof and manual windows, and of course the Rothmans livery.
But the series proved successful and in 1987 Porsche followed up with the more developed, more powerful and more excited Rothmans 944 Turbo Cup. In fact, the Turbo Cup cars were developed for single-race series around the globe – in total, there were 5 series and just shy of 200 Turbo Cup cars produced. Like the prior 944 RC, the formula was pretty simple – lighten a 944 Turbo, leave the engine “stock”, and fit it with race equipment. But Porsche, being Porsche, went a bit above and beyond.
Though the Turbo Cup looked for all intents and purposes like just a 1987 Turbo with racing colors and a cage, the reality was far from that. The engine retained most of its stock components, but Porsche fit magnesium oil pans and intakes to lighten the load. The turbocharger was uprated as well to develop more twist. Magnesium carried over to the transmission bits and even the wheels, which copied the production series designs but were much lighter. Inside the Turbo Cup gained a cage and a Recaro race seat, but lost its climate control, the glove box, the radio console and even door pockets. Power steering and air conditioning were yanked. Gone too were the rear wiper, remote hatch release and power windows. Like Audis from the period, the brake system was anti-lock, but included an on-off switch to disable the system. Bilstein provided upgraded damping, and Porsche also fit larger roll bars front and rear. The result was that they managed to get the road going 944 Turbo down to 1,280 kg (2,800 lbs) while simultaneously making it more powerful.
As some of the most limited 944s out there, and coupled with a popular race series featuring some of the most famous names in 80s sports car racing, the Turbo Cup cars have developed a cult following and bring some of the strongest bids in the transaxle world:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup on eBay
The end of Summer has many traditions; the days wane as children head back to school. Temperatures fall as families head towards apple orchards and plan for haunted hay rides. Pumpkin spice is everywhere. But there’s one tradition I’ve particularly enjoyed for the last few years; the live stream from West Sussex, England of the Goodwood Revival.
For me, a lover of vintage cars and especially vintage race cars, it’s a special treat. Both of the events put on by Lord March are impressive in their own right, and if you want to see a little bit of everything the season opener Festival of Speed is probably the venue you should consider. But if you want to see cars and motorcycles from periods you weren’t even alive for race flat-out, the Revival is the one to tune in to. Heavily modified Jaguars, Ferraris, Aston-Martins, and just about everything in between head to the track as combinations of professional and amateur drivers (at least, those with quite deep pockets) take their prized possessions to the limit and sometimes beyond. You might be lucky enough once in your life to witness an original GT40 in person; head to the Revival, and you’ll run across a dozen or so of the model, many of which are driven nearly as quickly as they were originally. This is coupled with period livery and dress on one of the fastest circuits in England, filmed with some of the best cameras out there. The result, as a car lover, is one of the most evocative spectacles conceivable.
Each time I witness a Goodwood event, my love of these race-prepared vintage cars is re-inspired. And though this particular BMW 2002 is just a few years too new to be eligible for competition at the Goodwood circuit, it caught my attention because of the claimed IMSA link. This chassis, while not an original BMW factory racer, was originally constructed and raced in the IMSA RS series in the early 1970s, making it the perfect candidate for vintage racing today:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1968 BMW 2002 on eBay
While the Porsche 986 Boxster might have been the car that saved Porsche with its massive popularity, the 987-derived Cayman was what made the mid-engine design popular with track enthusiasts. Especially in more potent “S” form, the Cayman is a giant killer with sublime vehicle dynamics and plenty of punch even without a turbo. The 987 refresh in 2005 fixed many of the perceived visual faults of the 986 Boxster design with a slant towards a more aggressive look. The Coupe added a smooth, flowing hatchback line to the 997-inspired exterior, creating a lightweight, 7/8ths scale mid-engine 911. That it was less expensive than the traditional flat-6 lineup didn’t hurt, either. It was, and remains, a hit.
It was no surprise then that immediately these Caymans became popular with track enthusiasts and racers alike, spawning their own race series in the PCA. But you don’t need to fork over $100,000 for one of the rare Napleton Interseries cars to have a lot of fun at the track, as Kachel Motor Company proves with this duo of Cayman S racers: