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Modern Mercedes-Benz Diesel Stuffed Into 1992 190E

Ever daydream about a bizarre engine swap? So do Mercedes-Benz engineers, apparently, as they've managed to stuff the 2.2-liter turbo-diesel I-4 from a new 2010 C250 CDI into a 1992 190E 2.6.

Interesting? Yes. Rat rod? Hardly. The 190E used in the swap was in immaculate shape, and it didn't come into Mercedes-Benz's hands very cheaply.

"No," says Peter Lehmann, an engineer responsible for Mercedes-Benz's concept cars. "I can't say it was a real bargain. The W201 has long since gained collector status (so we noted), and this example dating from 1992 was in particularly good condition."

Still, there was a method to Lehmann's madness. Not only did he know the W201 inside out (he's owned several), but the old 2.6-liter inline-six-cylinder was approximately the same size and weight of the new turbo-diesel I-4. Luckily, this allowed engineers to maintain the 190's weight distribution, and a suspension revision was avoided.

The project wasn't without packaging issues, however. The stock oil pan interfered with the steering rack, so a part from a Sprinter van was used instead. Engineers also had to widen the 190's transmission tunnel to accommodate the modern six-speed automatic transmission.

Even so, Lehmann says the biggest issues weren't mechanical, but electrical.

Modern engines are chock full of advanced technologies, and if the corresponding controllers aren't present, they will barely run, if at all. Mercedes-Benz had to rig up a simulated CAN-BUS multiplexing system in the trunk in order to get the 2.2-liter to fire. A similar method was used to fool the computers into thinking an ABS computer was present and fully functional.

If this all seems too complicated to enjoy, the engineers report the opposite. Since the 2.2-liter turbo-diesel is rated at 204 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, the modified 190 is now nearly three times as powerful as a vintage 190D. Mercedes-Benz claims the car will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 6.2 seconds, shaving 11.9 seconds off a 190D's performance run.

Better yet: Since the hopped-up 190 is lighter than a contemporary C-class (you've a long list of safety and convenience features to blame for the extra heft), we're told the hot-rodded 190 is actually slightly more fuel efficient than the C250. Go figure.