The Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC rally car and star of the 1978 “Vuelta a la América del Sud” long-distance rally puts in a gala appearance at the fifth ADAC Eifel Rally Festival from July 23 to 25, 2015. The event takes place in and around the City of Daun: one of the original coupés with which the brand from Stuttgart scored a glorious one-two victory at the time, will be driven at the Rally Festival by Andrew Cowan (the 1978 winner) and Klaus Kaiser as well as by the team Hannu Mikkola/Arne Hertz.
Four former Mercedes-Benz racing drivers will pilot the Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC rally car through the Volcanic Eifel at this year’s ADAC Eifel Rally Festival. The V8 Coupé is one of the vehicles with which Mercedes-Benz took part in the 1978 “Vuelta a la América del Sud” long-distance rally and scored a one-two victory plus a fourth place finish. The winner of 1978, Andrew Cowan (he shared the cockpit with Colin Malkin at the time), will start with Klaus Kaiser (then co-driver of Tony Fowkes in a Mercedes-Benz 280 E) as his team mate. The second team from Mercedes-Benz Classic is formed by Hannu Mikkola and Arne Hertz, who won the 1979 Bandama Rally in Africa with the successor model 450 SLC 5.0 and ultimately won the world rally crown in 1983.
“Authenticity – the motto of the Eifel Rally Festival this year – is a core value of Mercedes-Benz Classic. This is why I am especially happy that in Andrew Cowan, Arne Hertz, Klaus Kaiser and Hannu Mikkola we have four protagonists of such significance to the Mercedes-Benz motor racing history starting in the Eifel with an authentic 450 SLC rally car of the 1978 season,” says Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and Customer Centre. “All four drivers put their stamp on the success story of the Mercedes-Benz luxury class coupés of model series C 107 in long-distance rally sports in the late 1970s.”
The 450 SLC rally car will take to the track in the Eifel together with numerous other classic cars. All in all, some 150 original or authentically reconstructed rally vehicles from five decades will come to the starting line at the 2015 ADAC Eifel Rally Festival. The event thus offers a unique overview of the various eras of rally sports and once again lives up to its reputation as the largest travelling rally museum this year. The highlights will be the special stages on gravel and asphalt as well as the action on the rally mile in Daun’s Leopoldstrasse, which will be the prime focal point for vehicles, teams and fans during the entire festival.
The festival kicks off on 23 July, with the so-called “shakedown” in Brueck. A open-air rally cinema is scheduled for that evening. 24 July begins with the vehicle inspection on the rally mile, followed by an autograph session with a host of legendary racing drivers. The action on the track starts on 24 July shortly after 2.00 p.m. with the “Bosch Super Stage”, which includes gravel roads complete with water crossing, drift corner and a jump. The new “Festival Parade” will be held for the first time that evening. It presents the vehicles that are too valuable or delicate to compete in the sporty festival schedule. 25 July will be all about the asphalt stages on the route in the Volcanic Eifel. The ADAC Rally Festival ends that evening with a party in Daun.
One-two victory for the V8 Coupés in 1978
It was a triumphant success for the first-time deployment of the near-production Mercedes-Benz luxury class coupés of model series C 107 in motor racing: after 38 days of exhausting driving and almost 29,000 kilometres (about 7,000 kilometres on gravel), Mercedes-Benz triumphed with a one-two victory of the 450 SLC rally cars in the “Vuelta a la América del Sud”. The brand from Stuttgart actually scored an overwhelming quintuple victory in all in the summer of 1978. In addition to the powerful V8 Coupés in 1st (Andrew Cowan/Colin Malkin), 2nd (Sobieslaw Zasada/Andrzej Zembrzuski) and 4th place (Timo Maekinen/Jean Todt), two rally cars of the model 280 E (W 123) finished in 3rd (AnthonyFowkes/Klaus Kaiser) and 5th place (Herbert-Ernst Kleint/Guenther Klapproth).
This marathon through Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile was followed the next two years by two additional long-distance competitions in which Mercedes-Benz was also highly successful with rally cars based on the C 107 model series: In 1979, Hannu Mikkola and Arne Hertz finished in the top spot of a quadruple victory in the 11th Rally Bandama in Ivory Coast with a 450 SLC 5.0 rally car. Their team mates Bjoern Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius, Andrew Cowan and Klaus Kaiser as well as Vic Preston Jr. and Mike Doughty finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th. In 1980, this success was followed by a one-two victory of the Mercedes-Benz 500 SLC rally car in the Bandama Rally won by Bjoern Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius ahead of Jorge Recalde and Nestor Straimel.
The vehicle from Mercedes-Benz Classic at the 12015 ADAC Eifel Rally Festival
Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC rally car (C 107, 1978)
Mercedes-Benz put a total of four 160-kW (217-hp) V8 Coupés with automatic transmission on the starting line of the tough South American rally in 1978. A typical trait of the 450 SLC rally cars was that they were very close to the production vehicles. The regulations of the “Vuelta a América del Sud” precluded modifications to engine, transmission and body. However, vehicles were selected whose engine output was at the upper end of the tolerances – the vehicles for the competition produced an output of up to 172 kW (234 hp). A model based on the 450 SLC with an uprated output of 213 kW (290 hp) was produced for competing in the 1979 Bandama Rally in Africa: the 450 SLC 5.0 rally car. In the 1980 season, Mercedes-Benz competed with the final evolutionary stage of this family of competition vehicles of the C 107, the 500 SLC rally car with outputs of up to 250 kW (400 hp).
Technical data Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC rally car (C 107)
Used in: 1978
Engine: V8, 90 degree cylinder bank angle
Displacement: 4,520 cc
Output: 167 kW (227 hp)
Top speed: 220 km/h
The drivers of Mercedes-Benz Classic at the 2015 ADAC Eifel Rally Festival
Born December 13, 1936 in Duns, Scotland
Andrew Cowan grew up on a farm in the Scottish Border District and started to hone his driving skills at a young age on the region’s narrow roads together with his childhood friend Jim Clark (the future Formula 1 world champion). His first significant success in motor racing was the victory in the Scottish Rally in 1962 – he defended his title the next year. Cowan was particularly successful as a professional rally driver in long-distance competitions. He attracted the attention of the brand from Stuttgart with his victory as a private driver of a Mercedes-Benz 280 E in the 1977 London–Sydney Rally. This won Cowan a seat in the 450 SLC rally car when Mercedes-Benz expanded its activities in rally racing in 1978 under the leadership of engineer Erich Waxenberger. Cowan won the 1978 Vuelta a la América del Sud and finished in third place in the Bandama Rally in Africa in 1979 with a 450 SLC 5.0. Even after the end of his professional career, Cowan remained a part of rally racing. Among other things, he founded the Mitsubishi Ralliart racing team.
Born June 6, 1939 in Sweden
As co-driver of Stig Blomqvist in the early 1970s, Arne Hertz won numerous major rallies in Scandinavia with Saab 96 V4. However, he celebrated his greatest successes as co-driver of Hannu Mikkola in the late 1070s – among other things, the duo finished in the top spot of a quadruple victory for Mercedes-Benz in the 1979 Bandama Rally. That same year, Hertz guided his team mate to a second place finish in the 27th East African Safari. In 1983, Mikkola and Hertz won the world championship with Audi. From 1976, Hertz was Mikkola’s co-pilot for 13 years before he shared the cockpit with Armin Schwarz.
born May 29, 1937 in Stuttgart
Klaus Kaiser made Mercedes-Benz motor racing history in the 1960s and 1970s as co-driver of Eugen Boehringer and other outstanding rally drivers: together with Boehringer, he won overall victories in the Germany Rally, the Liege-Sophia-Liege Rally and in the Touring Grand Prix of Argentina in 1963 alone. The duo repeated the success of Argentina the following year. Kaiser gained his first motor racing experiences on a motorcycle starting in 1954. He won gold, silver, and bronze plaques at various motorcycle competitions. After an apprenticeship at then Daimler-Benz AG, he worked for a while as a driving instructor before returning to Mercedes-Benz as a foreman and later head foreman, where he worked in the test department with a focus on vehicle measurement. When Mercedes-Benz re-entered rally racing in the late 1970s, Kaiser was one of the experienced co-pilots of the works team: in 1977, he started in the London–Sydney Rally together with Alfred Kling and Joerg Leininger (6th place with a Mercedes-Benz 280 E) and became co-pilot of Toni Fowkes in the 1978 East Africa Safari as well as in the 1978 Vuelta a la América del Sud Rally (3rd place), in both cases with a Mercedes-Benz 280 E. After that, he accompanied Andrew Cowan in the 1979 Bandama Rally (3rd place with a 450 SLC 5.0), the 1980 East Africa Safari (6th place with a 450 SLC 5.0), the 1980 Codasur Argentina Rally (280 CE) and the 1980 New Zealand Rally (500 SLC). Klaus Kaiser ended his active career in motor racing after the conclusion of the Bandama Rally in December 1980.
Born May 24, 1942 in Joensum, Finland
As the son of a factory owner, Mikkola learned to drive when he was just 14 years old. At 18 years of age, he competed in his first rallies driving a Volvo. During his academic studies, which he graduated as an engineer in 1965, he continued to compete successfully in rallies – first for Volvo and later for Ford. In 1979, he right away won the Bandama Rally (Ivory Coast) as a guest driver for Mercedes-Benz with the 450 SLC 5.0 rally car and also finished in 2nd place behind Bjoern Waldegaard in the world championship. Mikkola and his co-pilot Arne Hertz won the world championship title in 1983 with Audi. He is considered the rally driver who was among the best of the field of international competitors in this sport longer than anyone else.