When you think of mullets, ’taches and shell suits, Scorpions and Kraftwerk, you realise this could’ve been worse.
By Chris Chilton
1. Koenig Competition Evolution
German Hillclimb champion Willy Koenig thought Ferrari’s 380bhp Testarossa was a little down on power. By about 620bhp, in fact. Two turbos bolted to the flat-12 sorted that and delivered a 230mph top end. Along with the Ruf Yellowbird, probably the most famous modified supercar of the 1980s.
2. Koenig R107 SL
Has there ever been a car less suited to a fibreglass frock than the R107 SL? Testarossa-style side strakes and a rear wing that wouldn’t look out of place on a GT2 grid are backed up by oil-drum-sized cross-spokes stuffed under those flared rear arches. Just be glad we didn’t show you the interior.
3. Styling Garage 500SGS Gullwing
Equally outrageous, but somehow far less offensive is the 500SGS Gullwing. Stacks of tuners offered gullwing SECs in the 1980s, but according to website 1000SEL.com, German coachbuilder Styling Garage started the whole trend.
4. Strosek 928
Another legendary 1980s name, ex-Koenig-man Vittorio Strosek is synonymous with his 928 conversions. Baddest of the lot was the Version III, which featured fatter arches front and rear, special projector lights in place of the standard pop-ups and, later, even a vertical rear window instead of the sloping hatch to keep the cabin temperature down.
5. B+B Auto Exclusiv 928 Targa
Not as wide but just as wild was B+B’s 928 Targa. Looking like a Fiat X1/9’s big brother, the B+B 928 featured entirely new rear bodywork and a T-bar roof arrangement into which could be mounted the radio and telephone – a new low (or high?) in cabin ergonomics.
6. Rinspeed Porsche 939
Torn between a 911 and 928? Then have the worst of both with this saggy-bottomed Rinspeed 939 that grafted the GT’s lights on to the sports car’s shell. Repulsive, but it did feature the turbo motor in the cabrio body years before Porsche offered the option itself. The model code? 911+28 = 939.
7. Gemballa Mirage 911
But that was nothing compared with the Mirage, which featured a 10cm roof chop, humungous rear arches and a spoiler that looks like Newcastle’s Millennium Bridge. Power came from a 500bhp RUF-fettled flat-six and there were cameras in the doors for rear-view mirror duties. Recently snuffed-out Bucks Fizz lookalike Uwe Gemballa only ever found one punter mad enough to buy one.
8. Boschert B300
Another Gullwing Merc, this one’s based on the later W124 coupe. Besides adding those doors, Boschert fitted an R129 SL front end and moved the C-pillar 25cm further forward. No word on whether it did anything to the chassis of a car that was as exciting to drive as watching metal-flake paint dry.
9. AMG Hammer
Here’s one W124 that was anything but boring to drive, from tuner AMG in the years before Benz swallowed it up. At launch, Merc’s fastest factory 124 was the 188bhp 300E but AMG shoehorned in various V8s from a 340bhp 5.0 to a monstrous 6.0 with 375bhp that did 186mph. All very well, but where are the side strakes and gullwing doors?
10. Treser Quattro roadster
Post-butchering, and with the folding hardtop roof up, Walter Treser’s Ur-gly Quattro cabrio looked more like a Holden Maloo than a rally legend. The back seats shrivelled like a bodybuilder’s testes, while wobble and wind noise both got a boost. A snip at just double the price of the standard car.
Check out www.1000SEL.com for more bad taste teutons