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Team Über Vogel
1987 Mercedes 190E
Six Cylinder

June 20, 2012

Normally, the phrase “Mercedes race team” would include one of Stuttgart’s best, sleek and ready for the track. Not so much when it comes to the Team Über Vogel: Hans-Am 190E and the 24 Hours of LeMons.

The 24 Hours of LeMons is a race series for cars bought and prepared for $500 or less. Safety gear, brakes and tires are not counted, but any performance related items, including the price of the car are required to come in under $500.

The series is equal parts carnival, comedy routine and serious race series. As you might expect, cars in themes ranging from the Popemobile to the Batmobile can be found. At the same time, it is a hard fought endurance series with competent mechanics and solid drivers.

And, what more appropriate car to endurance race than one of the last of the hand-built Mercedes? After all, if they can survive the abuse of being European taxicabs on cobblestone roads, they should do fine on the track!

Enter the Hans-Am, a terribly ugly but amazingly durable six cylinder 1987 Mercedes 190E. It was initially found in Santa Cruz, rusted, broken and reeking of rotten seawater and feral cat. But, from humble beginnings, a mile-eating frugal race beast was created.

The car has run in more than a dozen 24 Hours of LeMons races, receiving incremental modifications for each outing in keeping with the spirit of LeMons. Unregulated items such brakes were swapped for larger calipers, racing brake pads and steel braided lines. Wheels have been upgraded to 7” and thicker rubber now grips the asphalt. And the team has been able to upgrade the car with Bilstien short shocks, a limited slip differential and numerous other items scavenged in junkyards from other E-class models.

Perhaps most impressive is the optional “Spring-o-Matic” that the team mounts on the car during particularly rough races. Consisting of a Datsun pickup leafspring mounted in front of the radiator, it’s meant to fend any over aggressive competitors away from the cooling system.

As part of the team’s inception, the drivers donate 25 cents each per lap to a valuable community cause. This has included more than $4500 to the American Heart Association, Canary Foundation, Court Summerfield Fund, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Shriners Hospitals, Speedway Children’s Charities and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

And, the car has proven to be a war-wagon, turning 3861 laps at Altamont, Buttonwillow, Thunderhill and Sears Point raceways, covering more than 8174 miles. That’s roughly the equivalent of driving coast to coast three times on a brutal LeMons racetrack, without a major hiccup.

24 Hours of LeMons :: Team Über Vogel :: Race History
Race Overall Field Laps Lap Mi. Miles
Infineon, Mar. '12 10 171 269 2.28 613.32
Infineon, Oct. '11 12 164 345 2.28 786.6  
Thunderhill, Aug. '11 67 112 219 3.1 678.9  
Infineon, Mar. '11 37 173 263 2.5 657.5  
Buttonwillow, Dec. '10 26 173 277 2.9 803.3  
Thunderhill, Aug. '10 25 121 311 3.1 964.1  
Infineon, Mar. '10 28 147 271 2.5 677.5  
Thunderhill, Nov. '09 35 156 244 3.1 756.4  
Buttonwillow, Aug. '09 21 99 227 2.9 658.3  
Altamont, May '08 35 89 383 1.1 421.3  
Altamont, Oct. '07 6 87 654 1.1 719.4  
Altamont, Jul. '07 50 83 398 1.1 437.8  
Totals 3,861 8,174.42

While the Hans-Am may be rough around the edges, with dents on every panel, it continues to run strong. If you want to take a look, feel free to visit the 24 Hours of LeMons circus, or even better, buy a $500 car of your own and join us!