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Building A Diesel-Powered Mercedes Station Wagon Drift Racer

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Teemu Peltola is a Finnish drift racer. In his second competitive year he's built one of the most unique cars ever to enter the series, a diesel-powered 1981 Mercedes station wagon. He's also taken time to tell us about it.

When we included video of Peltola doing his thing in a badass Mercedes-Benz Station wagon in our list of Ten Awesome Drift Videos, we didn't think we'd be getting an email from the guy.


However, apparently Jalopnik's kind of a big deal in Finland and he heard about our coverage so now we can tell you all about this mad man and his mad Benz.


Peltola likes drifting. He's also quite good at it. 2009 was his first year of racing in the Extreme Drift Challenge — he won his class. In his second year he headed for the Pro class and decided he needed a new car and just another built-up Japanese racer wouldn't do. See, Peltola's a Mercedes man and a bit of a builder. He tells us "First of all, I thought to build a Supra IV with a Mercedes diesel engine, but I didn't want to do that because everyone is driving Japanese cars, of course it would have been easier to build from a Japanese car because you can get much more aftermarket parts for them."

But that didn't stop him, he says, "I really wanted to build a w123 wagon, but is there any sense to build a car where you can't really use anything original? The answer is NO, but I really wanted to do a good drifting car from a w123 wagon, so I decided to do it!!" When he found this unassuming 1981 Mercedes-Benz 300D Estate, the game was on.


Rather than stick with the stock 3.0-liter diesel from 1981, Peltola picked up a 3.0-liter 24-valve diesel from a 1998 Mercedes E-class. With that as a starting point, he fabricated a new intake manifold, installed a much bigger Garrett GT40 turbo from a Scania heavy truck pushing 36 PSI, a new diesel pump and home-made intercooler. A bell housing adapter was made to fit a Tremec TKO 600 transmission to the engine and power was routed to a Mercedes rear axle. Unfortunately that axle didn't survive the first race, so now there's an Toyota Aristo rear axle (Lexus GS to US readers) fitted.

Don't think for a second that's the end of the insane hackery here. The factory suspension was in no way up to the task of drifting, so the rear suspension from a Mazda RX8 modified with coil overs was fitted. According to Peltola, "The hardest was to fit whole Aristo front axle, I think I worked 2 or 3 weeks with it," he said, "Mounting the rear axle was not so hard, but it took some hours too." Steering comes from salvaged Volvo parts and lend a nearly sickening turning angle.

The result is The Diesel Drifter. One of the baddest mad wagons ever. Power? Well "I have not had it on a dyno, but last year I drove a Mercedes Benz 190 (W201) with an OM603, 3.0 12-valve turbodiesel and it made 414-hp and 704Nm (520 lb-ft). So maybe I have like 450Hp and 750Nm (553 lb-ft). But I have plans to build it with two turbos, so I will get more power, I hope it will go to 500hp and 850Nm (626 lb-ft)." We like those plans.

So far Peltola's been competing strong in the Pro class, though it's a fair bit tougher than his last go-round. He's finished well in the middle to the top of the pack, placing as high as 3rd, at the X-treme Pro Drifting Trophy, but for now, he's just sorting his car and getting used to the big leagues. When we asked what his competition thinks of his bitchin' new ride, Peltola only says "I dont know, maybe I'll have to ask!"