A purist's dirtiest dream comes to life.
Engine swaps provoke the ire of many a hardcore motor enthusiast, with some believing a car should be left as is, while others are willing to do whatever they can to improve upon the recipe a manufacturer has put together. In the worst-case scenario, this can often mean performing a swap that elicits a stream of profanities from the purists, such as dropping a Hellcat engine into a Chevrolet pickup. Or in the case of this Hartge F1 that's just come up for auction with RM Sotheby's, taking the body of a predecessor to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and dropping a BMW straight-six engine into the mix and making the best of both worlds.
Back in 1988, German tuning house Hartge built the F1 using the chassis of a W124 Mercedes 300E and the M88 3.0-liter straight-six from a BMW M1 and E28-generation BMW M5 shoehorned under the hood. It's the equivalent of giving a Mercedes-AMG E63 an M5 engine and getting away with it. While Hartge was known for squeezing bigger BMW engines into smaller chassis all the time, the F1 was a little more experimental, with cross-swaps between BMW and Mercedes an uncommon notion back in the late 80s.
But the tuner believed the W124's chassis was capable of handling far more power than the 187 horsepower it received from the factory, with the M88 providing it with 325 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque - albeit through a series of modifications. To achieve the outputs, the engine was bored from 3,452 cc to 3,535 cc, and the engine was paired to a manual gearbox from an E24-generation 6 Series to direct power to the rear axle. Bilstein sports suspension was the final topping on the F1, turning it into a gloriously capable performance sedan.
But with M88 motors hardly a common commodity, the F1 project was not exactly a viable one, and only one example was ever produced. Now, this rare one-of-one monster is up for auction with no reserve at RM Sotheby's Essen 2020 event. It needs a little restoration work, but we're sure it'll be well worth the effort for anyone willing to carry it out. The car also comes with all its documentation, including a number of articles in which it was featured by European press over the years.