N.D.B. Cars and Coffee 3rd Running - June 19th 2011 at 8am in Weston

Friday, July 10, 2009


The term Q-ship originally referred to ships created during WW1 to act as decoys for German U-boats. They looked like normal fishing trawlers or cargo ships, but when the U-boats got close, they revealed their serious firepower hidden below deck. The term has been appropriated by the automotive community to refer to cars that appear to be everyday, run-of-the-mill sedans, but are in fact hiding serious firepower under the hood.

I’ve been thinking about these a lot after German Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum a few weeks ago. In attendance were a couple of the quintessential Q-ships – the mid-eighties Mercedes 190 2.3-16 and the early nineties Mercedes 500E. The former took the entry-level 190 sedan and dropped in a Cosworth 16-valve engine. The latter was hand-built by Porsche for Mercedes-Benz and had a wicked V8. Neither car had much that gave away their true potential other than badging and subtle flares and skirts. Both of these cars remain relatively affordable today (compared with their BMW counterparts from the era)…as long as you can find one that hasn’t had the snot driven out of it.

Some of my other favorite Q-ships include the Vauxhall-Lotus Carlton, Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, Volvo 850R, Ford Taurus V8 police package (not to be confused with the Taurus SHO). If you have other faves, please post them in the comments.
UPDATE: As if to prove my point that these cars tend to be flogged by the yobs who own them, look no further than this video from You Tube wherein a 190 2.3-16 gets mistreated (love the primer on the fenders).

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