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brookspw 11-24-2003 04:25 PM

My 1991 190E took names at a quasi-SCCA event on Saturday
Ok, I own a 1991 190E 2.6 with 159,900 miles.

The Darrell Waltrip Volvo dealership staged a big autocross event for folks to come out and drive their new S60. This is a 300hp all-wheel drive vehicle. I'll have to admit that it is pretty stout. It also has a short throw 6 speed manual. Suspension settings of normal, sport and advanced and you could turn traction control on or off.

So, you had to register -- only 60 could race. The idea was that DW would put down a lap, anyone that beat him he'd make a $100 donation to a charity. If you owned a European car you could take a lap in it, too.

The course, officiated by SCCA members was a 15 turn, tight autocross course. So, tight that you never even ventured out of 2nd gear.

DW's fast lap (the one we were going against was 31.810). I ended up 6th with a 32.251. The bulk were turning laps in the 34-37 range.

So, time came for me to run my car. Other cars were a Honda S2000, Porsche 944 tricked out, 2 Mini-Coopers (those things were tailor made for this course). I pull up in my black, 4 door sedan. Yes, I got some strange looks. Had to have it inspected for safety. I just had new ball joints and tie rods, so that was no problem. They also bumped my air pressures to 40psi (Dunlop Sport A2, 195/60).

DW said, looking at my car, "What's up with that?". I said, "You offered, I'm taking you up."

I didn't want to risk breaking something, so I resolved to just take it fairly easy -- not push it too hard. Man, the thing handled like a dream. It went in and turned just as easily as that new, awd Volvo -- every bit as good. The only place I was at a disadvantage was on the quick acceleration. I made the final turn and tripped the timer at 34.501. They couldn't believe it. They didn't believe that is wasn't modified at all.

I actually surprised myself, I figured on a 36-37 second lap -- I was just doing it for fun.

Here is the link to the speeds on the DWV website LINK. You'll see my speed at (Phillip Brooks) 32.251 -- 6th one down and you'll see all the other speeds. Those are all in the 300 hp Volvo. You'll see where the lap my Benz turned would fit in.

Not too bad. Not bad.

Thought you'd enjoy the story. Later this evening, I'll post the story of the guy wrecking his 944 :D

Duke2.6 11-24-2003 09:42 PM

190Es handle exceptionally well, and the 2.3 has an edge on a real tight course because they are very neutral with little understeer due to less front end weight distribution. My erstwhile '84 2.3 probably had the best combination of ride and handling I've ever experienced once I replaced the OE 175/70SR-14 Michelins with 195/60HR-15 Phoenix Stahlflex 3011s. - dead neutral with very little understeer and a well behaved rear end. The dynamic response was identical to my Cosworth Vega, but without the wooden wheel ride.

My 2.6 still understeers more than I would like even after I put as much negative camber in the front as the adjustment would allow - about negative 3/4 degree. Both my old 2.3 and 2.6 are five-speeds.

The one autocross I ever ran with the 2.6 was at Starfest, and I beat all but one or two of the 16Vs. The biggest problem was lack of a limited slip differential that allowed inside wheel spin acclerating out of the turns, which probably cost me up to one second on a thirty second course.

Ran it at the Willow Springs big track once, and it busted two 205/60VR-15 Michelin XGTVs (mounted on 6.5" 300E wheels) on the left front in Turn 2, which is a long 80 MPH sweeper that takes you through about 200 degrees of azimuth change. The load on the left front was just too much for the tires.

The OE shocks are too soft to control wallow on a high speed trac, but I did it for fun just to see how it would do compared to my Cosworth Vega and second generation MR2.

Overall the 201 (and 124) are pretty tough to beat as touring cars that are also excellent back road athletes.


brookspw 11-24-2003 10:39 PM

Hopefully my friend will chime in -- he was there later in the day when this happened. I'll share it as he related it to me.

A guy shows up in a tricked out 944. He proceeds to try to just wrestle the course, too fast, too jerky. Anyway, as my friend is leaving [walking outside of the final turn] the guy comes around and starts to push -- the car is headed for them through the cones and hay bales. He corrects it then oversteers. The back end comes around and he tries to accelerate out of it. Lost control and swerved into the base of a light pole. Ripped off the front end and destroyed the suspension/A-arm on one front. I'm sure a good chuckle was had by all.

MTI 11-24-2003 10:53 PM

Hey, way to go Brooks! People tend to forget that Mercedes put a lot of thought into the W201 platform and only remember it as the "entry level" ($20K was entry level back in the mid-80's?;) ) Benz bought by frugal folks or "doctors wives." Great to see that in the hands of an obviously well trained pilot, the W201 can still look respectable in a pack of newer whiz-bang cars.

toddro 11-25-2003 01:12 AM

I unfortunately missed Brooks' run because I was sitting at the airport waiting on a flight that was an hour late, but I was the witness to the 944 debacle.

This guy did a number on his front left wheel, probably blowing out all suspension - and he left his front cowling / air dam on the course. He also rolled up over two orange safety cones which were stuck up under the car very tight and took some time to get out. He just pushed way too hard through the final turn and lost the back end, then overcorrected and ended up going into the base (curb) of the light pole and smacked it hard with a direct hit, scarring the piss out of a course worker that was standing by the pole.
He did turned in a 33 sec run - but at what cost? He was pushing it very hard, and was a solid driver despite the accident, so Brooks' run in the 190 that competed so close with Porsche is all that more impressive to me.

I wished now I had tried my car on the course too - but had I not represented as well as Brooks, I would never be allowed at his house again for the world famous cilantro-grilled chicken and mojito dinner...

way to go Brooksie !


haasman 11-25-2003 03:21 AM

190's: The more I drive them, the more I like them!

I wish I had discovered this car earlier.


brookspw 11-26-2003 12:13 PM

Ah, yes, the mojitos:cool:

I would imagine his insurance would not pay for damage of, uh, this type. How would that work?

MTI 11-26-2003 01:08 PM

It never hurts to call your insurance agent before taking your car to the track, since it's going to depend on the language of the "exclusions" in your policy. Some insurers have specifically excluded "timed speed events" or "closed course exhibitions of speed" from comprehesive collision coverage.

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