Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Mercedes Never Made A Rally Car."

On last night's Top Gear, the dynamic trio drove a 1963 Opel Kadett A (Hammond), a 1981 Lancia Beta (Clarkson), and a W123 Benz 230E (May) across Botswana. Laughing at the Merc's long wheelbase and general tubbiness, Clarkson noted that's why Mercedes never made a rally car. I'm pretty surprised that he made the comment and even more surprised that the Top Gear staff kept it on the air.

The R107 450SLC 5.0 was an odd bird. It was HEAVY, had a powerful V8, and had an automatic transmission. Not your typical rally car. Between 1978 and 1981, Mercedes spent a lot of money in rallying from Portugal to New Zealand. With extravagances such as servicing via helicopter, it was rumored that Mercedes spent more per event than Ford or Opel spent in an entire season.

What is even more remarkable is that during my research, I found out that a W123 280E won the London to Sydney rally in 1977. This is essentially the same car May drove from Zimbabwe to Namibia. Who says Mercedes never made a rally car?



Anonymous said...

I'm seriously impressed and curious. I never knew that Mercedes ran anything other than a two door coup in rally. Where did you get those pictures? Do you have any more?

Maxichamp said...

Thanks. I found the pictures and info on a Brazilian blog (I can't find it anymore). But I'm sure if you google "280E rally car", you'll find something.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. Always a pleasure to hear from a fellow car aficionado.

Anonymous said...

Found it: http://luiscezar.blogspot.com/2006/11/mb-450-slc.html