Mad Scientists Graft an ’80s Mercedes-Benz 190E Body to a Modern C63 AMG Chassis
The so-called Frankenstein Benz is our kind of monster.
Peanut butter and chocolate. Tequila and lime. Big engines in small cars. There are some combinations that seem preordained to please, and this incredible build featuring the boxy body from a mid-Eighties Mercedes-Benz 190E, the chassis and powertrain from a modern C63 AMG sedan, and the spirit of Mercedes' iconic Evolution models is everything we didn't know we wanted.
This is no mere engine swap, a task that's tricky enough when you're talking about a hand-built, expensive AMG V8. No, the work of taking the complete running gear of one car and slipping it into the body of another without changing the character of either is so involved it truly lives up to the name Piper Motorsport gave its creation: the Frankenstein Benz.
"To make a long story short... the 190E will feature the engine, transmission, entire driveline, suspension, brakes, fire wall, dash, electronics and even the floor pan from the C63 AMG," the description for the shop's incredibly-detailed Facebook album reads. And it is indeed a long story, the first picture showing the two donor cars side-by-side was uploaded a full five years ago. The build is finally in the home stretch this month. What took so long? As you can imagine, everything.
The captions on the album's 163 photos—which we encourage you to look through in its entirety—document the insane amount of custom fabrication that went into bring this monster to life. First the team had to build a custom jig to lift the old body off the 190E, then slice and dice the W204 C63's unibody chassis until the old sheet metal could fit around it.
That meant shortening the wheelbase and cutting out a bunch of structural parts, the latter of which is offset by the addition of a hidden 2x2 rollcage and other internal reinforcements. Surprisingly, the dashboard from the C63 slipped into its new-old home without much prodding.
Meanwhile a custom center console features the shifter for the 7-speed automatic transmission and switches for the still-intact power window/lock systems (which are also still connected to the C63's original key fob). New three-point belts, mounting points, and seat brackets add a little peace of mind.
Unsurprisingly, the engine bay is a different story. Since that 6.2-liter V8 is more than twice the size of the original four-cylinder, Piper Motorsport had to relocate several of the oil coolers, completely re-fabricate the front end, and modify both the A/C condenser and the brake master cylinder to fit everything under the stock hood. This was further complicated by the need to narrow the front suspension mounts by 20 millimeters on each side to accommodate the old body. The exhaust was built using parts from Modern Horsepower and Borla.
You might have stopped at this point for the ultimate sleeper, but the lucky client wanted his beautiful freak to look like the 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, the company's winged devil child that emerged at the end of the base 190's 11-year run to dominate the BMW M3. So by the beginning of 2017, Piper Motorsport had added a body kit and spoiler to match the legendary Evo.
The car had its engine and suspension removed for some in-depth paint work. And then...nothing. For a whole year, the Facebook album sat dormant. Then someone began posting more updates this spring—the Frankenstein Benz gained a supercharger with a trunk-mounted cooler and the C63's original underbelly panels—before a shot of what appears to be the final build was uploaded at the beginning of September (though a close look reveals the interior isn't quite done yet).
What a magnificent sight to behold. Some of the comments on the Facebook album are complaining about those DTM-style wheels by fifteen52, but we dig 'em.
We reached out to Piper Motorsport to get the inside scoop on the project and what happened in that missing year, but unfortunately a manager there told us that the owner had already promised exclusive coverage of the finished car to another outlet. That would explain the lack of interior shots or test drive videos, at least. There's also no final word on power figures, weight, acceleration, or performance data of any kind.
Rest assured, though—we'll be watching. Old Mercedes sedans and modern AMGs just might be our new favorite combo.