Chicago Mercedes Tuner Tries for Green Car Speed Record
Here's more proof that “green” cars don't need to be slow. Yes, a powerful and responsive 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine is not usually what comes to mind when you think of “green” cars, but – if Bernie Towns and the crew at Speedriven get their way – it soon may be.
Bernie Towns is an engineer at HighMount Exploration and Production – a natural-gas-focused energy company based out of Houston, Texas. “Clean” and “green” are everyday buzzwords in the energy-production industry, and Towns' company Future Power Technology will be no exception, promoting research into new ways to push compressed natural gas (CNG) into the mainstream. Afterall, CNG does offer significant improvements over gasoline, which include reducing smog-producing pollutants by 60-90%, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30-40%, being significantly less expensive than gasoline, and just as important, being domestically-sourced.
In addition to being well-versed in current green-energy trends, however, there is something about Bernie Towns that is different from the usual green-car advocates. “I admit it. I'm a horsepower addict,” Bernie says. “I love speed, I love power, and I love my Mercedes-Benz.” Lucky for those saddled with a need for speed and an environmentally-inclined conscience, Towns has been working with Chicago-based tuning firm Speedriven for over a year on improving his 2007 SL600 Mercedes-Benz roadster, which now develops over 800 horsepower and over 1,000 lb-ft of torque from its biturbo V12. According to the company, this is running 10-second quarter miles with a top speed well in excess of 200 mph (look for proof at the Texas Mile this year).
Speedriven's Jo Borras says, “In a lot of circles, green is the new fast. I think that's true, and Bernie is certainly a believer. He'll talk about CNG giving off 80% fewer harmful emissions than gasoline, and he has the resources to figure out flame-front speeds, burr temperatures, and other technical things we need on our end to properly tune for the gas and convert the car. He doesn't just want to do a CNG Benz, though. Bernie wants to break records.”
If this car brings the kind of mainstream attention to CNG that it should, it may well pave the way for more conversions to CNG and potentially a transition to hydrogen as a fuel. Much will be learned by developing natural gas technologies that could be applicable to hydrogen as a fuel. Let's cross our fingers, shall we? In the meantime, fueling stations for scads of alternative fuels already exist throughout the country. You may run a search with this link.
Photo Credits: Neil Prasad, Speedriven