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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The British Influence

Even before Aufrecht and Melcher settled in Affalterbach, there was a British racing engine company founded by Mike COStin and Kevin DuckWORTH, taking hints from the prefix and suffix of their respective family names, obviously, the company I'm referring to is called Cosworth. Just like Aufrecht/Melcher (AMG), Steve Jobs/Wozniak(Apple), Bill Gates/Paul Allen(Microsoft) and of course Daimler/Benz, one has to be the technical wizard and one has to be the entrepreneur. No success is guaranteed if these pairs are both experts in one specialty.

Founded in 1958, Cosworth has seen success building high-performance engines and branded them Ford through the years until it became the company's technology and racing division.

September 1980, Mercedes-Benz has sent its M102 2.3L 8-valve engine to England and ordered to drill eight more holes to its cylinder head to achieve 320 horsepower to the much-anticipated racing version of the soon-to-be launched W201 190E. The engine has been fondly known to its enthusiasts as 2.3-16 Cosworth.

Consisting of light-alloy cylinder head, roller chain-drive dual overhead camshaft and sixteen valves. It is not called 2.3-16 for nothing. Putting it all together plus M102's already oversquared engine block is an excellent combination for an element of surprise. Even before the stickers "16 VALVE" started making its way to the rear windshields of the front-wheel drive Japanese ricers, this work of engineering marvel is the true pioneer.

Buzzwords will surely pop out when the 190E 2.3-16 becomes the subject of discussion among enthusiasts with names such as Nurburgring(apologies for my US-locale keyboard), Ayrton Senna, Nardo, Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) also known as German Touring Car Championships coming out of their throats. For whatever records the 2.3-16 has achieved, those are searchable in Google and I don't want to retype them all over again.

From the outside, 190E 2.3-16 can be distinguished by its different airdam, sideskirts and spoiler. In the Philippines, sometimes the outer looks will not always tell the whole truth.

The innovations put together in this particular model is unprecedented in Mercedes-Benz history. The technology that was infused in this development has never been so interesting than adding 8 more valves, personalized climate controls, adaptive steering headlights, GPS navigation systems etc. of the later years to come.

Designed for racing and ultimate driving experience. This machine just like the BMW M3 E30, only with luck, can survive Metro Manila's monstrous traffic jams if driven at a wrong time. Unfortunately, for the uninitiated eye, the 2.3-16's resale value is preposterously overrated because those who are in the market for their first Mercedes-Benz, the 190E is always the "starter" candidate and a buyer doesn't really care whether it's eight or sixteen valve as long as it looks the same it should be appraised similarly.

Not exactly a perfect car, but surely, the strings and catches attached are not a high price to pay for The British Influence.


Route 66's anonymous customer - Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Super Mercedes

If it's not good enough yet. Bruno Sacco's super project turned over to Aufrecht and Melcher to become their super-super project, of course, we'll have a super WerkWagen. Without any further adieu, one of my much-venerated Mercedes ever.

The coupe to end all coupe. The Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG C126 is an unarguably a real Mercedes muscle, it's not just a Panzerwagen it's a Blitzwagen. Only 28,929 coupes where made from 1985-1991 or four thousand eight hundred twenty one and a lunch break were made per year. Only 2 known real WerkWagen arrived in the Philippines, one ended up in ashes and the other one is still kicking (but not the bucket).

An AMG Werkwagen, by the way, is not a Mercedes that is tuned and modded using all original AMG components inside a ghetto shop, it's a Mercedes that has been hand-stitched with AMG component at different AMG facilities that existed during C126 era.

This lovely beast is not called The Super Mercedes for nothing. With an AMG-tuned M117 V8 engine that yields 300+ horspower, I can put the label "Duck Rice with Soya Oil" to any Japanese Ricers of the same class today (if there is any).

The M117 engine has been around with Mercedes from 1969-1991, Mercedes-Benz engineering has been founded on solid platform that building its cars has been a modular affair. Observing keenly, Mercedes flagship cars that were sold from 1969-1991 only differed in looks, safety and aesthetics but the engine didn't change or the engine block, so to speak.

Inside, we'll be able to understand that Mercedes-Benz's business is all about building great cars and not electronics. The cathode-ray tube compact television may look so cool during the '80s but it's totally a joke by today's standards.

One of the most popular sci-fi TV show during the '80s was the Battlestar Galactica and surely, AMG will not fall behind. The standard controls, climate control buttons resembles much of those in the Viper(not the car, but the fighter).

One cannot appreciate the "Superness" of The Super Mercedes without taking it for a spin. Even with a not so perfect condition powertrain our very Super Mercedes immigrant still kicks up to 120kph in less than six seconds.

But due to the faulty transmission, power is quite difficult to tame and just like any other super creatures this one don't want to be taken with a good shot.

The Super Mercedes was one of the best works put together by Bruno Sacco and his team and with the ever-enthusiastic Aufrecht and Melcher. It's sad to know that they don't build Mercedes like they used to be because Mercedes-Benzes today are basically no longer designed by automobile designers and engineers but by scheming jokers, policymakers and Poison Ivies disguised as environmentalists.

Special Thanks To:

Route 66 - For The Super Mercedes and a great lunch at A La Diane

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight and the Three Pointed Star

Imagine this, you're driving in one of Manila's beat up streets also known as Tungaw Central or Smegma Kid's Alley with your stately Black Mercedes-Benz, no air-con, analog radio, with elbow extended outside the window and then suddenly you're screamed at; "Hoy, Batman!" and kids abruptly stop playing and begin to chant "Batman! Batman! Batman!" to the rhythm of your engine's chugging. You're expecting this because you're driving a Heckflosse and you whispered "Bullet day, I will giant you, all of you!" in Filipino "Balang araw, maghihiganti ako sa inyong lahat!". And it turns out you become The Joker.

Sometimes it's quite painful. Of course, who wants to see his/her favorite marque blown up in her/his favorite movie? Just like Gotham City's Judge Cirillo's W210.

Anyway our favorite marque has been in an on-and-off affair with the man-who's-also-a-flying-rodent. Take for example the tasteful preference of his sidekick The Boy Wonder who sneaked out one of his Batmobiles, I mean Batbenz, to stroll out with friends which is based on Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR.

In one of the Teen Titans episode this poor chap ended up on its roof during a fun run thus activating the beacon and alarming Batman to go retrieve his Mercedes-Benz Batmobile errr Batbenz.

Now that the "Tumbler" is out of commission, thanks to Joker's shooting skills with the RPG. Speculation is hovering that our caped crusader ooops I mean The Dark Knight is in the market for a new ride and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been spotted driving the next Batbenz I mean the next Batmobile.

The SLR 722. Well, very ideal for fighting crime specially the organized ones. Hopefully, it's also ideal for fighting corruption. I think somebody has to warn Batman what to expect with the 722. First, somehow it should be Euro-4 but in filthy Gotham City that doesn't seem to care what Euro-4 is all about, Joker might prefer a clunkier and older muscle car. And if the Batbenz's Euro-4 goes titsup during the chase, well, good luck and fight another day.


Julian Herzog - CLK-GTR photo
AngMoKio - SLR 722 - CLK-GTR graphic

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Beast Of The Black Rain

One of the scariest German ingenuity landed in the heart of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the closing of the Second World War. Unfortunate is not the word for those who saw the flash and ends there, but for the Hikabushas (blast survivors) that will receive further suffering with the downpour of the ash-like Black Rain, things will never be the same. Until then Hikabushas will be treated with difference, away from ordinary, away from normal. And this is The Curse of the Black Rain.

This Sunday afternoon what has befallen me is something that dared to be different but it's not entirely of the "Reihe" kind, a one true Beast of the Black Rain; The Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG W208 UnConverted Japan version. Truly an adapted pride of The Rising Sun.

Powered by a handcrafted 342hp, 5.5 liter, V8, M117(TBC) powerplant. The CLK 55 has a racing car specifications that goes with stiff forged billet steel crankshaft, AMG-specific camshafts, of course, and all those yadda, yadda, blah, blah the-stuff-you-already-know-about (ooopss "lifestyle" alarm going off...).

This beast is just as immaculate as some of Sacco's works that transcends through time even if it has a very short production span of five years from 1997-2002 which is actually too short for a typical Mercedes-Benz factory planning.

Even the rear elements are distinctive from its European counterparts with shorter license plate placeholder.

It's truly an elegance that looks well in its past. Not directly from the W201 but from the C-class platform which is actually from the W201 platform, a genealogical tradition of excellence.

Inside, it's a Space Shuttle but don't worry, all labels are still in English, no conversion/translation were done, it's still the familiar Mercedes-Benz controls with some don't-press-what-you-don't-know add-ons because you may never know it's an eject button.

Driving back to civilization (that's Starbucks Madrigal), Paltik (the CLK55 owner) took the helm of Klaudia so I did took the helm of The Beast of the Black Rain. An initial rush of adrenalin pumps to my irritating migraine, per instinct I focused on the dashboard and looked at the semi-digital display, it then flashbacked on me; Uncle Ho and Uncle Rashid both Singporean cab drivers who used to shuttle me around the Lion City in their E-Klasse Taxis has the same display! Fortunately I'm in left-hand drive and this is Philippines so I'm no cab-driver. And Klaudia just left me behind so I kicked in to "D" and followed. I'm sinking but I'm still "slow". That's Mercedes-Benz V8, finesse and graceful but overly capable.

At the end of the day, The Beast is fun. The "switching" feeling is not there unlike driving a new Japanese ricer and going back to the older Japanese ricer where some things starts to feel softer and softer. To our beloved marque, old and new, the "Benz-y" feel is always there, it's still solid and still very much stable.

Ronald Nunez, Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mercedes-Benz in Philippine Movies Part 2

I think the most popular Mercedes-Benz prop car in the Philippine cinema is the W123. It has been shot up, smashed, crashed or just sitting idly in one scene or used by main character in the movie. From our featured flick, this particular W123 is quite fortunate to have a megastar as its driver.

There was a time in the Philippine movie history where "canned" (not Cannes) film was the formula to go with. "Canned" films are normally all-in-one genre-confused roll of celluloid strip that could be a drama, comedy, action and even musical canned into one single title with no real sense of purpose as to why these kinds of film were produced to start with.

Presenting now is a historic flick entitled Jack En Jill. This your typical GLK (Gay, Lesbian Kingdom) movie which is an important element to force humor out of seemingly stupefying entry of corny heap gags. Definitely, I'm not going to pay for these kind of movies as it mocks the intelligence of its viewers but nonetheless there's a Mercedes-Benz in Jack En Jill to go with it. Now I beg your patience.

Our featured ride starts @ 3:26. Jack (Sharon Cuneta) became a substitute driver to his father (Panchito) which is Edu Manzano's personal driver. Sorry, but no FPJ-style car chase here. The megastar W123 here probably sports an AMG steering wheel, a black fiberglass front AMG-esque bumper, a rear black rubber spoiler, chrome trims against a Manila Beige finish. Most likely this W123 is still alive today and in the hands of an enthusiast with all those half-hearted, silly accessories gone (hopefully). From the looks of it this is probably a diesel automatic with captain seats for better nookies. By this film's standards, that W123 probably looks majestic in the eyes of the filmmaker but on-screen it sucks donkey balls.

All in all it's not surprising that this film was a box-office hit in its time, that W123 without doubt contributed to its stellar performance. Mabuhay ang Chedeng!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mercedes-Benz of the Week

Seattle's Best Valero - Just got off late from work and had to get a quick dinner before heading home. With a very limited choice of dishes (of course this is just a coffee shop that serves food), I opted for Amatriciana, I don't know what it is but it's just another pasta. Looking for something to feed my thoughts in a nearby magazine rack which always give me a choice between cooking and car magazine and most of the time cooking magazine wins. But this time the begging just seems to be persistent ("Please read me!"), so I picked up the car magazine and started from the end of it. There are several reasons car magazines in this rack loses the "reader's pick" (that's me, by the way) award, and I have to start in the end so that my brain won't have shitty afterthoughts. Ok, pinoy-based lifestyle car magazine, here we go..."there something in it when it hits the autobahn...blah, blah, blah", "'s a familiar European look, but to those brought up to corolla it's totally a different world...blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda...", "I had a taste of the LeMans when I was 18...airy,fairy,airy,fairy..."

That's the reason why I have to start from the end, this lifestyle car magazine is way too "distant". The absence of "relationship" between writer and reader is so evident that they have to come up with the silliest Buyer's Guide section with tons of mundane, cloudy pictures to go with it. And how many Mercedes-Benz has been featured? ONE! One that doesn't even exist in this part of the shore, a glass top AMG W212 with a Cali license plate in it. If these guys are having a hard time finding exotic cars around town, how much more finding exotic girls? What a bunch of g*yf*ckers (censored to avoid unwanted Googlers).

So I whipped out my mobile phone, browse thru my picture album and...

I realized I just shot an ML320 at SLEX Northbound. Not that I want another Mercedes SUV as a pick of the week, I just want to relieve my brain from that insidious lifestyle car magazine c!rap. So lazy to learn more, I typed the URL "", hit Enter and...wha! "Page not Found". What a f*cking freeloader, it has to be "", there! Do I need to tell further what ML320 is all about?

All I know is what I spotted was a 2007 not 2008 SUV, Bluetec or no Bluetec I don't really care much. One thing is for sure, this chap is enjoying the view of Klaudia's ass so I have to slow down to get a better shot. To the buzzword freaks, this is known as the midsize Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV). In other words, it's a Big Car. Designed based on the monocoque(sorry for the lack of a layman's term) structure of a car and its non-truck chassis that is common to the SUV. Rest assured Erap will never going to have a "=16" markings in this ride(you'll find out what I'm mean soon).

The W164 which is also equipped with 7G-tronic automatic transmission that is soooo damn useful in Manila's traffic and flooded streets, for sure the kids will going to enjoy an occassional splash at speed.

I didn't even paid much attention to this junk at MIAS so why put this as Merc of the Week? Well, this week is a rainy week, a brat who lives off from his dad's allowance has to be caught in the flashflood "in style" and an ML320 will just breeze him through that just as capable as the Musso and the Sorento. Well, this is just one of the not "Made in W. Germany" Benzes around so good luck.

Lessons learned: 1.) Not all Picks of the Week are cool 2.) Get a life, lifestyle car magazines still sucks.

I don't want to taint my blog with heavy "lifestyle-ish", technical nonsense. So believe me, "" really works. Try it, that's what you call "connection". :P

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

AMG going 41

This month AMG concluded its 40th year in existence. But before I start with something "angas", let me drill down with the few "what ifs" scenarios 20 years before 1967.

1947, Germany and its allies turned out victorious in the Second World War. United States ceded Philippines to Japan whose dwindling resources at that time eventually turned over its protectorate role to Germany. Despite semitic fear, uncertainty and deceit that we usually see in movies, books and TV today. Germany is no indifferent to the Filipinos and in the Philippines in the ways they are to the Jews in general for the reason that Dr. Jose Rizal is one of its treasured storyteller and excellent educator to the Arian race during his fruitful stay there in the 19th century.

Hitler continued work on his dream city called Germania with a tall order of raw materials needed to complete it, Germany has to look somewhere to continue building its other postwar interests. Daimler-Benz, having contributed substantially to the creation of The New World Order by Germany's definitions has to find its own resources that will not hinder to the completion of Germania. Despite all this Germanization, English is still the globally spoken language. And Philippines is just right smack on this opportunity, with the only English-speaking citizens around the region. To cut it short, The Aktiengesellschaft has its headquarters in Stuttgart but has all its dozers, drillers and cutters slicing through mines, forests and rivers of the Philippines building the finest Mercedes-Benzes in factories and plants nearby.

Fast forward to 1967, We'll probably have Castro, Reyes, Asuncion Pasig (CRAP) GesselSchaft or Santos, Hipolito, Ignacio, Taguig(SHIT) GesselSchaft or Francisco, Urdaneta, Coronel, Kalookan (F*CK) Gesselschaft as performance tuning companies working with Mercedes-Benz. Imagine your great exotic Benz today sporting such emblems from engine bay to the boot.

Fortunately, the Allies won. And in 1965, Mercedes-Benz employees Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher supped up the engine of Manfred Schiek's 300 SE as a personal, non-work-related backroom project. The project was so successful that they created a cult following that lead them to decide to leave Mercedes and in 1967 Aufrecht, Melcher Grossaspach (AMG) Gesselschaft is operational.

One of AMG's legendary creation is the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 V8 that conquered the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 37 years ago by Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz. This fire-red beauty still put marvels in to the eyes of AMG fans because aside from engine mods, stabilizers and rollbars very little was done in the interior which means the innards still resembles a normal car.

Among my personal favorites from the early AMG-modded Mercedes-Benz is the C126 560SEC. Honestly, I don't want to spent time on keystrokes saying what the readers already know and what they can Google easily. But in the Philippines, there are only 2 known units of this C126 that is factory-original from bumper-to-bumper while others who claim originality still needs to prove their authenticity.

40 years passed, AMG engineers in its Performance Studio at Affalterbach still hand-made their engines and autograph them as a sign of fulfillment of their customers' dreams. As Aufrecht has said and quoted many times; "You must never say why something can't be done. You must ask yourself how it can be done."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mercedes-Benz and Alternative Fuel Source

For many years, Mercedes-Benz and Fuel Consumption has not been put together to come up with a positive write-up without putting its owners into a cynical mindset. This is also due to many hoax and false claims about "wonder fuels" that promised to drastically eliminate the need for conventional fuel to run their beloved marque, not to mention the lack of research before jumping in and adapting the use of the "wonder fuel" of choice.

Here comes the vegetable oil. There are Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) or Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) and Pure Plant Oil (PPO) but these shouldn't be mistaken for biodiesel. Biodiesel is diesel fuel from organic source that is fed straight in to the diesel engine without any extraordinary processing or any special conversion kit or separate tanks which is distinctive in vegetable oil.

Since fuel price increase has been the hottest topic these days around town. Focus on alternative source of fuel has been seriously reconsidered again, with emphasis to "again" because work on vegetable oil as fuel has been around since 1900, Rudolf Diesel's presentation to the British Institute of Mechanical Engineers citing the importance of such work will only be significant in the future which is today. But due to falling crude prices in his time there's isn't much interest to continue research on vegetable oil as fuel. But today when there seems nothing to force the oil price to drop. The interest for veggie oil again is starting to gain ground.

In the Philippines, there's a startup company called AlterEnergy Systems, Inc. which specializes in conversion of diesel engines to burn vegetable oil. Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines (MBCP) members were treated to an enlightening presentation and real world demonstration of vegetable oil as fuel to an indirect injection diesel engine which is a well-driven engine inside a Mercedes-Benz W123.

Chips Guevara, the main man of AlterEnergy Systems, Inc. provided a point-by-point presentation of the features, advantages and benefits of using vegetable oil as fuel.

It is not a coincidence that the most ideal if not perfect engine for demonstration of the vegetable oil conversion kit from AlterEnergy Systems, Inc. is a Mercedes-Benz Diesel indirect injection engine as Mercedes-Benz is not a novice player in the vegetable-oil-as-fuel game even before they built engines for the Tiger tanks.

A converted engine run as normal as the ordinary engine except that exhaust smells like "turon" (a Philippine delicacy of sugar-coated, deep-fried banana wrapped like a dumpling). So inhaling the fumes doesn't tell one whether he/she is dead or dying.

Somehow, somebody has to watch what is cookin'

Saying farewell to cheap oil. Looks like this veggie thing is the next hot stuff to South Beach Diet.


Chips Geuvara - AlterEnergy Systems, Inc.
Tippee Yaptinchay - Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Mercedes-Benz W113 Pagoda SL

Born in 1963 during the time when Philippines was still enjoying its glory days; with the most powerful armed force in Southeast Asia, has enjoyed so much economic blessings, no insurgency. If my memory is correct it was also the dawn of The Great American Muscle, V8s, V12 powered with Boron petrol (which is actually an iron and not leaded gasoline, it was so advanced in its time that it was discarded on automobiles not because of environmental implications but cost) randomly rambles in the streets of Manila and the other municipalities of Rizal (no Metro Manila yet).

Production of Pagoda SL ended in 1971 and was succeeded by a more meaner R107. I am not certain what year the first Pagoda in the Philippines arrived but if it was here in the early 60's then it sure just blends right in to the community. And it's not known as of this writing how many remains roadworthy. So far, I have spotted four of this collectibles wandering around here and there.

W113 also popularly known as Pagoda or Mr. Slim. Pagoda, because the roof resembles an oriental-based structure but I'll let readers explain why it was called Mr. Slim as this beauty is actually older than me. As on the roof, there was also a "California Roof" or "California Edition" which is notable with the absence of the soft top option.

There are several variants that came out during its production lifecycle namely the 230SL, 250SL, 280SL and of course I don't want to explain what everyone already knows that different numbers means different engine displacement. All in all there were 48,912 W113 built so if it's known how many of these arrived in the Philippines and in roadworthy condition then we possess national treasures.

Looking inside the Pagoda reminds me of Vietnam War movies. Ivory steering wheel, simple but elegant gauges, the absence of high-tech gizmos and whatnots truly eliminates stress upon sinking into the driver seat.

Looking around the car, the Pagoda is a truly desirable collectible classic though not all of the series can command a premium resale value such as the 230SL due to the high availability of parts and the small engine/small value perception.

The 250SL which was the rarest of the three variants also came out with a ZF (ZF Friedrichshafen AG) 5-speed manual transmission, among the noteworthy "firsts" in the line of Mercedes-Benz focus on innovation.

However, the Pagoda is notoriously weak against rust. A prospecting collector should watch out where rust can quickly build up such as floor, door underlines, wheel wells and trunk.

The Pagoda Today

It is understood that the W113 aka Pagoda aka Mr. Slim is not a daily driver and collectors are expected to have another car for other abusive purposes.

White Pagoda - Route 66
Green Pagoda - Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines