Over the course of the month we’ve seen some absolutely wicked feature machines rolled out as part of our celebration of Scandinavian car culture. It’s not just the standard of the builds that are impressive, but also the diversity of the cars you find populating the track at Gatebil events and beyond. European, Japanese or American – it makes no difference as long as it can produce big thrills for the driver and for the crowds who line the track.
So then, to pick one single car to represent the insanity of the Scandinavian scene is pretty much an impossible task. However, if you were forced to pick just one vehicle that embodies its spirit, you might be looking at it right here.
I’m talking about the W203 Mercedes Wagon from the crazed folks at Black Smoke Racing in Finland. This of course isn’t the first time Black Smoke has been featured on Speedhunters – in fact you might even remember the feature Dino did on their old W123 wagon last year.
For 2013, the guys decided to build a new car – one that would pick up right where the old one left off. The goal would be the same would be the same: to prove that a diesel machine could be just as competitive and just as fun as the more conventional race cars out there.
The project kicked off in January of this year, and in many ways it would serve as a better, more refined version of its predecessor. The move to a newer chassis would also help remedy one of the biggest issues with the old car – excess weight.
While the team’s previous builds had always been limited by time and budget constraints, the addition of some new sponsors gave the guys the means to extract more potential from the more modern chassis.
Given the their years of experience building racing and one of the most badass diesel-powered cars in the world, setting up the motor was actually one of the easiest parts of the build.
Much of what had been learned over years of building and rebuilding the previous chassis was put to use here. As with the W123, the W203 is powered by a heavily worked version of the Mercedes-Benz OM606 3.0-liter turbo diesel motor.
The primary challenge with getting the old motor setup into the new car came from the oil sump. The OM606 comes with a front-mounted sump, but to set it in W203 the guys needed to find a sump that sat farther back.
As before, the diesel was making its power from the combination of an Eaton MP90 supercharger and a Holset HX52 turbocharger. But after a recent engine blow at Gatebil the supercharger was removed in order to reduce some of the heat.
Once again, the car is also equipped with a nitrous system – or now rather a combination of nitrous and water injection. With full throttle applied and boost pressure is below 1.0-bar (14.7psi), the engine receives a fresh dose of nitrous. When boost rises above 1.0 bar the nitrous is cut off and misted water is injected into the inlet to cool the charge and lesson the chance of detonation.
The new car is also equipped with the same unique transmission setup as the old car – an E55 AMG 5-speed automatic with custom software and a manual shifter conversion.
While getting the powerplant situated was fairly straightforward, a much bigger challenge came when setting up the new car’s front suspension and steering system. In the end, an entirely new front end was designed and fabricated by an outfit called SSP. The only remaining part leftover from the factory are the fastening points, as per the BDC rule book which the car has been built to follow.
Another result of the re-engineered front end is much improved steering angle, which we all know is so crucial when it comes to drifting. From this angle you can also see the K-Sport coilovers which are fitted at each corner.
Out back the W203’s factory rear end was removed and replaced with a complete Torsen setup sourced from from a Toyota Supra.
Another element that’s carried over from the old car is the use of a rear-mounted radiator setup. The area that was once designed to carry groceries or the family’s luggage is now home to a large Griffin radiator with oversized fans and a custom aluminum box.
As you can see, the 18-inch Rial wheels that are fitted beneath the wagon’s flared fenders are showing plenty of battle scars from the car’s sideways exploits. But it comes with the territory.
Inside, the car is equipped with a custom fabricated roll cage and all the other safety equipment you expect to see on a car of this caliber…
… including a quick release steering wheel…
…. and a pair of OMP Champ racing buckets.
You can also see the handle for the wagon’s hydraulic E-brake setup – something’s that’s become a necessity in today’s world of insane drift cars.
There are also a variety of gauges installed, with a simple vintage style that almost lend for a steampunk feel. Another one of my favorite little touches on the car is the woodgrain style vinyl that’s been laid over the aluminum dashboard. Funky, but cool.
But in the end, there’s nothing cooler than watching the car out on the track. The blend of white tire smoke and black diesel smoke that pour out when it’s thrown sideways makes for an amazing spectacle.
Whether it’s this car or the old W123, the sight of the Black Smoke Racing wagon is something that’s become synonymous with the madness of this region.
Like so many of the cars that you find in Scandinavia, the Black Smoke Racing Mercedes is the perfect blend of innovative serious engineering with a carefree, fun-loving attitude.
For now the goal is to keep running as many events is possible before the year is through, and when 2014 comes around the guys say anything is possible. I know I’m not the only one that’s thought about how fun it’d be see this machine come to the US and share its smoke-belching ways.
To keep up with the latest on the Finnish team’s efforts, you can check out their official website.
Words by Mike Garrett
Black Smoke Racing W203 Mercedes-Benz Wagon
Mercedes-Benz OM606 turbo diesel, Arrow rods, Herlevi.fi diesel pump, Holset HX52 turbocharger, custom exhaust manifold, custom intake manifold, custom intercooler, relocated oil sump, rear-mounted Griffin radiator setup, nitrous system, water injection kit, Samco hoses
E55 AMG 5-speed automatic transmission with custom software and manual shifter, Toyota Supra Torsen rear end
Custom fabricated front end by SSP, K-Sport coilovers, hydraulic E-brake setup,
Custom fender flares
Black Smoke Racing roll cage, OMP Champ seats, quick-release steering wheel, aluminum dash, custom gauges and switches
Parkkila.fi, Fin Turbo, MB Specialists, Migatronic, Monster Energy