ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing

Mercedes engineer remembers

ErlkOnig driver unpacks: was a real adventure as car testing

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-testing
Daimler Disguised Mercedes prototypes in the A980s in Africa

  • Site author Wolfgang Gomoll

Frank Knothe experienced a lot in his career. When the Mercedes engineer tells anecdotes from his wealth of experience as a automotive engineer, a world reveals himself in which the testing of cars was even more adventure than programming art.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the topic of speed was increasingly in focus during the Mercedes test trips. However, the high -speed oval in Nardo, where you can drive infinitely long, did not exist in Nardo at the time. So the testing road emigrated to the natural heat chamber of Sahara to carry out the cooling performance measurements. When there were problems with the visas in Algeria, the resourceful Swabians gave way to Mauritania.

The perfect test route: "Bolzen degree and potted"

“The service told us that there is a route between the capital Nouakchott and Akjoujt, which is straight and even.“The developers then did not make much feather reading and broke into the Mauritanian capital. The cars came from Dakar by ship or plane and the route kept what the company’s own trackers had promised. Bolzengerad and Potte. Made to the speed of the speed under the glowing sun. A real endurance test for the cooling systems.

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-adventure
Daimler AG Daimler development engineer Fank Knothe

Back then there were very fast cars. Among other things, the Mercedes SLC (C 107) with a four -disc wanking engine, which at least got a top speed of around 230 km/h. So the entourage ball balled along the street to explore the load limit of the cooling. In order to increase the driving resistances, wooden boards were attached to the roof, which looked like brake spoilers.

"An armed one jumped onto the street"

On the way back to the capital, the cars were backed back and are heated up with full throttle. "Ten kilometers before Nouakchott, a armed man jumped on the street and I could only avoid," says Frank Knothe. The engineer got fully into the iron and wanted to know what was going on. The law enforcement officer declared the put -kut team with a gun in French that they had driven too quickly.

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-erlkonig
Daimler Test drives of the Mercedes 190 during the e -trial

On the counter question, where the speed limit was set, the man pulled out a kind of Bible, but only stated that tire damage could be expected when driving quickly. Also the answer that this provision does not apply to the vehicle fleet because they are on good tires, came into deaf ears. "Then he made such a huge tinber that we have already grown behind bars," says Frank Knothe. But the delicate situation dissolved when the legislative hats recognized the brand of disguised vehicles. The face of the strict civil servant lightly brightened to “He called Mercedes Très Bien, salute and we were able to continue driving. We really had fracks breaks, ”smiles the former manager overall vehicle attempt and later series manager S, SL and SLK class.

Plusch alarm 1977: Mercedes-Kombis then and now

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-real

Site/Wochit Plusch alarm 1977: Mercedes-Kombis then and now

Prototype pushed off and rolled over

In addition to the state power, the overloaded Peugeot-Pritschen taxes were also a problem that often needed the entire roadway. “Once a prototype of the W123 was pushed into the sand and overturned several times. The boys got out without a injury. This showed us in the real test that the shell is very stable. The mechanics even managed the car again, ”recalls Knothe, who experienced seven development directors and some CEO at Mercedes.

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-testing
Cattle man A taxi place in Fes (Morocco)-here you are eagerly negotiated by the fare

Especially with the CEOs, the closeness to the automotive was not always. Edzard Reuter was such a case. The test trips were often used to discuss new models with the superiors. The then Mercedes boss Helmut Werner was there in the prototype tests of the C-Class (W202 series) in Spain and the first booklet for the Mercedes SL R230 was created. The test drives in the 45 to 50 degrees is also called Death Death Valley in California are also part of the standard procedure. As long as the cars are air -conditioned, this is still reasonably bearable. But Frank Knothe once crossed the valley of death with a Mercedes 190 D with the OM601-Sugdiesel with the air conditioning switched on. "With this car, they could either cool or drive due to a lack of performance," recalls the Mercedes veteran. How to withstand the scorching heat? “Drink a lot.“By the way, this model variant was not introduced in the USA.

Either cool or drive

From the hot sun of Africa and the Death Valley to the Arctic. That was the everyday life of a car tester. Even though Frank Knothe’s time already gave cold chambers, you couldn’t avoid trying it out in the great outdoors. At that time, cold starts were tried after a clinking night. If the future models were outdoors at night, it was of course a feast for the ErlkOnigjager. The cat and mouse game between engineers and photographers was part of the testing day. Frank Knothe’s cold record does not hold the Swedish Arjeplog, but a side valley towards Norway near the Swedish city of Kiruna at the end of which the village of Nikkaluokta is located. "There was the lowest temperature that I experienced, minus 38.5 degrees," says the technician and talking laughs further "There was a telephone booth that is not complete, but only goes to the knee. And I had a crazy colleague, he had to go to the phone."

In this S-Class you feel like Helmut Kohl

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-adventure

Site In this S-Class you feel like Helmut Kohl

Anyone who flies out pays into the coffee cash register

There was an unwritten rule during the test drives in the north: if you had flown into the snow during winter trips in Sweden, you had to pay an Obolus into the coffee box, but when the number of people involved in the test was increasingly stopped, this tradition was stopped, Because the prices for alcoholic beverages in Sweden have overwhelmed the finances of the penitent. But that wasn’t the only challenge.

ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-erlkonig
Daimler Today a classic: testing of the Mercedes 190 (W201) on the Arctic Circle. So the cars were camouflaged back then

"The engineers baked their bread themselves because the Swedish was so laborious," said the former ladder overall vehicle. Knothe is certain that the classic test drives will continue to be part of the development process in the future. But the former Mercedes leader overall vehicle attempt defends itself to make a comparison of the development of development: “There is not a good old time, but an old days and there is a new time. This is the case in all areas of life and also in automotive engineering."

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ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing-real

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5 thoughts on “ErlkOnig driver: was a real adventure as car testing”

  1. Adventure ErlkOnig
    Earlier test of ErlkOnigen in cars, today the same adventure in the election of politicians. … When the king appears under the er appears what was really underneath.

  2. In times of savings constraints ..
    … Nowadays, every new car buyer of a NRU model is test driver, immobilized with long guarantees and service flat rates. In any case, I can sing a song about that . Betate now belongs to the good tone .

  3. The black and white photo…
    .. Shows a car from the early 80s…Yes. The body is more reminiscent of a Audi 80 at that time. But certainly not an early Mercedes 190. It is rounded everywhere and does not have a multi -cancellous chrome A to C columns but everything is a stream and smooth. However, I cannot clearly see the car shown.

  4. W201
    Take a close look, these are both 190s of the W201 series, with a grill and headlights of probably one Audi. Carns and deceive, not as just foiled on it today

  5. I
    Had the pleasure with the colleagues from Audi to go across a 10-day test drive across Europe. Hifi, DAB and Navigation in everyday life. Learned a lot and had a lot of fun


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