Paul Kramer's 1987 190E 2.3-16
Bob Yoshida's 1994 500E
While many people are obsessed with just one car, there is a handful of a few poor bastards obsessed with them all. For those, life is too short for just one great ride. They need to own them all.
Enter Paul Kramer.
Though I'd only known him for 10 minutes, his automotive palette was vast, ranging from Alfa GTVs to Porsches to Mopars. He's what can be described as a "balanced" motorhead, a person who appreciates the car simply for what it is. It could be a 600-hp 930 or a 38-hp Beetle--Kramer loves them all.
I also learned he can drive the bejesus out of older iron. While following us up a local canyon, he managed to not only stay with our torque-monster BMW 335d, but almost pass us. Considering we outgunned his 20-year-old Merc by a few hundred pound-feet and had twice the rubber underfoot, this was remarkable.
"This is what the 190 16v was made for," Kramer says. "It was designed for the Nrburgring. You know... roads just like this. The engine, gearing and suspension work great up here. God, I love this car."
He went on to mention about 50 other cars he admires just as much. He might have even misted up for a bit.
In an effort to maintain contact and provide support for the world's finest cars, Kramer created Autokennel. Autokennel is a cross between a lounge, a museum consignment house, and a functional garage. It's a place for car guys to just hang, work on their rides or look for something new. Kramer is what you could call an enabler. Talk to him for a few hours and you will find yourself unable to live without your dream car. Paul almost convinced me I needed to get an Escort Cosworth (which I do). The dude is like the Dalai Lama of cars.
Kramer met us with pal Bob Yoshida, owner of the gorgeous 500E. "I always loved this car" Yoshida says. "Paul made it happen."
The result of careful breeding by both Mercedes and Porsche, each 500E progeny was transported back and forth between the Mercedes plant and Porsche's factory in Zuffenhausen. It took more than two weeks to assemble a 500E as each car was assembled largely by hand. Built from 1992 to '94, about 7,000 cars left the assembly line.
Based on the ubiquitous MBZ 300E, the 500E was equipped with a new V8 engine, hydraulic self-leveling suspension, 11.8-/10.9-inch front/rear ventilated brakes, wider wheels and tires and a revised suspension which lowered the car nearly an inch lower than the 300E. The car was also fitted with pronounced front fender flares that lended a linebacker-like profile. The engine was the same unit used in the 500SL but with Bosch's LH Jetronic fuel injection and a redesigned intake manifold that resulted in an additional 22 lb-ft of torque.
The four-speed automatic transmission and rear axle were also sourced from the 500SL. If you could get the car to hook up, 60 mph could be breached in 5.3 seconds with a 155 mph top speed (electronically limited)--not bad for almost two tons of car.
The 500E became something of a poster child for autobahn driving. It excelled at high speed cruising while providing an incredibly comfortable ride. And it looked fabulous while doing it.
Yoshida has been enjoying the 500E for several years with no major issues. Aside from routine maintenance, the car has been rock solid.
1987 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16
The Mercedes 190 16v was a genuine German hot rod. Based on their smallest model, the "baby Benz" utilized a high-strung Cosworth-massaged engine, special suspension and driveline, and cutting edge aerodynamcs. In 1983, on the walls of Nardo, Mercedes sought to prove the car's mettle. After 201 hours, 39 minutes and 43 seconds, two of the cars had clocked 50,000 kilometers with an average speed of 247 km/h, leaving the 190 2.3-16 with three world records and nine international class records.