The 190E 2.5 16 EVO II is one of the craziest looking road-going Mercedes ever produced as well as one of the coolest homologation special created from the rules of motorsport at the time.
But before we talk more about this large winged German racer boy, we need to trace back to its beginning. The genesis of the ultimate form of the “Baby Benz” was to enter the compact and affordable 190E into Group B rally racing. Cosworth was tasked to develop a high revving 4-cylinder engine with the 2.3 liter block as the base. Notice the job was done by Cosworth rather than AMG since AMG wasn’t a branch of Mercedes until 1990. The rally project was short lived as Mercedes realized their effort will be no match to Audi’s turbocharged five cylinder powerhouse coupled to an unstoppable 4WD system. Rather than completely scrapping the development, Mercedes traded in the desire to dominate on dirt for domination on pavement and developed the 190E to run in DTM. To comply with racing rules, road going version of the Cosworth powered 190E were made available which started a war and given rise to a new challenger that we all know well today. The BMW E30 M3.
The M3 was more powerful as well as more nimble thanks to the lighter 2-door body style compare to the Mercedes. Mercedes soon fired back with the Evolution I by improving the chassis with integration of full self-leveling suspension similar to Citroen’s hydropneumatic suspension where it previously available only on the rear, increasing stroke of the engine up to 2.5 and asked AMG to develop an optional engine kit known as the AMG Power Pack to further increase horsepower, and lastly switched out the mechanical limited slip differential (LSD) for a new complicated electronic unit that utilizes hydraulic fluid from the rear suspension to lock the differential under certain loads.
The fight on track and on the road isn’t over between the two German brands as BMW also upgraded the M3 with more power and chassis enhancements to create the M3 Sport Evolution with power rated up to 232hp. Mercedes responded one last time with the Evolution II, the engine revs higher to match the M3’s figure, improvement to the self-leveling suspension that helped reduce body roll, and last but not least the new distinct aerokit with fully adjustable spoiler and front splitter which drastically help lower drag and improve downforce. Both cars’ top speed tied at 155mph. Only 502 units of the 190E’s final iteration were built and despite having a hefty price tag of around $80,000 in 1990, Mercedes sold the lot before the car was unveiled.
The 190E 2.5 16 EVO II is one of the cars on my list of cars that HW or MBX should get around to make for years. Finally, this year my wish has been granted and the result doesn’t disappoint. It’s well detailed and HW captured the mean look of this car perfectly, one of the many things I love about Mercedes from this era. I won’t blame HW on the absence of the three-point star hood ornament since it would be really difficult to replicate. Out of the 5 cars in the Modern Classic series, this one is the most well-done IMO.
Thank you all for reading, catch you guys next time. Cheers.