Mercedes-Benz is having a hell of week. First they unveiled their AMG SLS Formula 1 safety car, then they unveiled their new twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 motor that will find a home in their S63 model. The smaller and lighter engine will produce more power and get better fuel mileage than the outgoing 6.2 liter V8. Pretty nuts. But that's what we've come to expect from Mercedes. Although they make cars that produce some of the most luxurious and serene driving experiences money can buy, they know how to take off the blazer and loosen up the tie every once and a while. Just like when they turned their "baby benz" into a race car with the 190E 2.3-16. The Cosworth powered four door, is considered one of the tri-star's best models, ever. Here's why...

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ENGINE: Mercedes seems to have a thing for British engine builders. Decades before they linked up with McLaren to build their SLR supercar, the tri-star company consulted with Cosworth on an engine for their super "baby benz". The company best known for building F1 motors, took Mercedes' 2.3L 4-cylinder 8 valve engine and swapped out the cylinder heads for better airflow and added two additional valves per cylinder which brought power up from 125hp to 185 hp. In stock form, the 2.3-16 was good for a zero to 60 time under eight seconds, which may not sounds like a lot now, but was pretty impressive for a four door back in the early 80s.

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DESIGN: To the untrained eye, the 2.3-16v doesn't look too different from the regular 190E. It's not until you see the two models side-by-side do the differences in bodywork stand out. In order to make it as slippery as possible through the air while on a track, MB fitted on a body kit that reduced the drag coefficient to just 0.32 (about the same as a Porsche 997 GT2) which was awesome for a four door at the time. Hell, it's pretty impressive for a four door now. The interior also saw a make over. Reduced to just four seats, everyone riding along had the pleasure of sitting in a Recaro bucket seat.

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Motorsport After dropping out of Rally racing in the 70s, Mercedes was looking to get back on the trail with their Cosworth powered rig. Unfortunately, during that same time, Audi and their turbocharged, four-wheel-drive Quattro was dominating the sport. Realizing that they couldn't be competitive, they opted instead for the smooth roads of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (the German Touring Car Series). When they did enter the series, they bumped heads with another German automaker, BMW, who was riding high with their own compact performer, the M3. But not before an unknown racer by the name of Ayrton Senna hopped behind the wheel at the Nürburgring. At the second public demo of the car, Mercedes ran a race consisting of all Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16s, driven by current and past Formula 1 drivers. After the young Senna placed first two legends were born.

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