A rare one-off Brabus tuned 1988 Mercedes 190 has gone on sale for an eye-watering £132,000. That might seem like a lot of cash for an eighties saloon, but this German saloon is a bit special. Conceived in 1988, this stripped out high performance machine was considered too extreme at the time and plans for production were shelved. Two decades on, however, it was revived on the orders of a Brabus director, resulting in arguably one of the rarest fast four-doors out there.
Brabus wanted a piece of the burgeoning German sports saloon/coupe market in the 1980s, when the Audi Quattro, BMW M3 (E30) and Cosworth-fettled Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 E were all the rage. To that end, the German tuning house wheeled a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 into its workshop and set to work creating the Brabus 190E 3.6S Lightweight. Brabus emphasised the Lightweight element in its name, stripping the sound deadening, ditching the air conditioning and dumping the rear bench.
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Unfortunately, this hardcore diet was deemed too extreme by potential customers, so the air conditioning and rear seats were reinstated, seeing the Lightweight moniker scratched in the process; production cars went under the ‘190E 3.6-24’ designation. However, a Lightweight variant eventually made production in 2008, when Sven Gramm, PR Director of Brabus, commissioned one.
Under the bonnet sits a heavily-revised version of the 190E’s 2.6-litre straight-six. Bored- and- stroked-out to 3.6 litres, the extra capacity liberated more performance from the engine in conjunction with a suite of upgrades, of which an uprated camshaft, modified manifolds and a stainless steel exhaust system were just a few.
All of the above lifted respective power and torque outputs to 286bhp and 269lb ft, delivering a claimed 0 to 60mph time of 6.3 seconds and top speed of 158mph. By contrast, the contemporary BMW E30 M3 Evolution II produced 220bhp and 181lb ft of torque.
To keep all the newfound performance in check, Brabus overhauled the suspension, fitting Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers, and there’s a big-brake package, comprising 286mm discs, too. This example rides on Yokohama’s aggressive Advan A048 tyres, measuring 225/45/16 in size.
Whereas contemporary Brabuses are extrovertedly styled, the Lightweight is subtle, clad in an understated, yet aggressive body kit. Inside the sparse cabin, a pair of Recaro Spa, kevlar bucket seats and a half-cage echo the purposeful exterior aesthetic.
The car’s exclusive nature and low mileage go some way to justifying the price being asked by Fast Classics, which is retailing the car. See the advert here.