One of the coolest ways of celebrating 125 years of Mercedes-Benz involvement in motor sports comes from Australia.
Former racing driver Andrew Miedecke has brought back the shine to one of the most iconic race cars ever to wear the three-pointed star Down Under: the 190 E 2.3-16 Group A touring car. Originally a DTM racer prepared by Helmut Marko’s team, RSM Marko, this particular car was imported to Australia and raced at Bathurst in the 1986 James Hardie 1000 alongside an identical model entered by the Austrian team.
This year, the baby Benz racer has undergone a livery and mechanical restoration and the result is simply glorious. The car reverted to the distinctive black, gold and red livery it wore while racing for 1000 km (621 miles) around Mount Panorama in 1986 and is right now on display at Melbourne’s iconic classic car show, Motorclassica (October 11-13).
In the famous race, the 190 E was driven by former Formula One world champion Denny Hulme of New Zealand and Olympic downhill skiing gold medallist, Austrian Franz Klammer. The duo finished 9th outright thanks to the car’s agility across the twisting section at the top of the mountain. On the long straights, however, the 190 E’s Cosworth-supplied 2.3-liter engine could not beat its more powerful opponents.
Following the Bathurst race, the two cars were sold to local racer Phil Ward, who entered them in the Mount Panorama classic several times, taking a memorable class victory in 1990 with him and touring car legend John Goss behind the wheel.
Later on, the two 190 E racers were modified to race in the Australian 2.0-Litre Super Touring Championship, before being sold to an Englishman who shipped them to the U.S. They resurfaced in 2012, still as a pair, and finally returned to Australia together. The car featured here was bought by Miedecke, which explains why his, and not Klammer’s, name is featured on the car – Miedecke drove the other 190 E in the 1986 Bathurst 1000.
“I really bought the car back because I had fond memories. Bathurst 1986 was my first ever touring car race, and my first drive at Bathurst having raced only single-seaters,” says Miedecke. “It was dynamite across the top of the mountain and down through The Esses, and quite good fun. It would eat anything else under brakes into the corners, and it was noticeably more stable. It was terrific,” the Aussie recalls. Amazing how things come full circle sometimes, isn’t it?