You’d Never Know This 1965 Mercedes-Benz 190D Hides a Boosted BMW Straight-Six12/30/2020
Swapping out an engine in favor of something turbocharged typically means you’re in the business of highway pulls and parking lot shenanigans, but not always. Slow cars need more power, turbochargers offer it on the cheap, and if you just want a little more drivability, they might just be the answer. For instance, this 1965 Mercedes 190D definitely needed a little more power. It’s not too far from stock, but it has smartphone-controlled air suspension, a refreshed interior, and most importantly, an M20 inline-six out of a BMW E30 fitted with a tiny turbocharger.
That’s not the whole story, though. Interested in keeping the car looking cohesive, the owner decided to re-brand the 2.5-liter BMW motor with help from some black powder coat and laser etching. The result is an engine that will look distinctively BMW to brand enthusiasts, but correct for the application nonetheless. It’s an interesting mashup of two brands that, while it might get a few people bothered, is interesting and super unique from where we’re standing.
The swap is well done, too, and focuses more on drivable power than outright performance. The engine, according to the owner Tony, is built for up to 400 horsepower. However, it’s put in a lower state of tune for the sake of not blowing it up. It’s not that kind of car. In fact, it’s fitted with an automatic transmission out of an E30 as well, which cements its identity as a comfortable cruiser with plenty of power to pull it down the road.
The builder of this car also knows a thing or two about swapping this BMW straight-six—known as the M20—into other cars that never had it. He also built a BMW 2002 swapped with an M20, and while that’s a common motor to put in those cars, they aren’t usually tuned up to 430 hp. Within the 2002 community, it’s said that pretty much anything over 200 hp in the lightweight car feels really sketchy, so serious props to him for apparently making a 2002 drivable with that much power.
This build is obviously a far cry from that, and it’s a nice departure from the big-turbo Ken Block Hoonicorn drag race type stuff we usually see. Sure, that’s fun to watch, but everyone has to relax every now and then. This 190 seems like the perfect car to do that.
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