Blistering Benz Turns 30

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By Ben Selby

When one thinks of iconic road going weapons of the Fatherland, plenty of names spring to mind. The BMW M3 E30, Audi Sport Quattro, and of course Porsche 911 930 Turbo. However, one of the greatest of all often gets overlooked by petrolheads everywhere, and that is of course, the Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, the closest you will get to driving an early nineties DTM racer on the road. The EVO is also celebrating its 30th birthday this year, so what makes this blistering Benz so special?

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201). Das Hochleistungsfahrzeug wird 1990 in einer auf 500 Stück limitierten Auflage als Homologationsmodell für den Motorsport gefertigt. Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201). The high-performance vehicle was produced in 1990 in a limited edition of 500 as a homologation model for motorsport.

Derived from the regular, and quite peppy, 190E 2.6-16 Cosworth, the EVOII was essentially a road going version of the DTM Touring race car of the same name. With only 502 cars produced, it was a bout of homologation insanity from the skunkworks deep inside Mercedes. It debuted at the 1990 Geneva Motor Show. Despite not being the first 190E EVO, that was the EVO 1 which debuted a year earlier, it was the EVO II which Benz fans everywhere covet immensely.

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, Exterieur. Foto aus dem Jahr 1990. Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, exterior. Photo from 1990.

From the outside, it was clear this EVO II meant serious business, thanks to a spoiler alert, literally. The box shaped rear wing was developed by aerodynamics engineer Rüdiger Faul together with Professor Richard Läpple of Stuttgart.

The spoiler was able to be adjusted to different degrees to suit the driver. The EVO II also got larger 17inch alloys which echoed DTM competition, added body stiffness and handsome scoops and flared arches. The EVO II was also available in one colour, black.

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, Motorraum. Foto aus dem Jahr 1990. Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, engine compartment. Photo from 1990.

Under the bonnet sat an upgraded M102 four-cylinder engine producing 173kW of grunt and was capable or redlining at 7,700rpm, thanks to a shorter 82.8mm stroke and lager 97.3mm bore, along with a roller chain camshaft. The DTM cars power was boosted to 274kW for racing, and was the last race engine developed by Mercedes in house. From then on AMG, took over all hot Benz engines and continues to this day.

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, Interieur. Foto aus dem Jahr 1990. Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, interior. Photo from 1990.

The EVOII debuted in DTM racing at the Nurburgring Nordschleife on 16 June 1990 with drivers Kurt Thimm and Bernd Schneider. From then on it was victory after victory, with Mercedes EVO IIs winning at Hockenhem, Deipholz an the DTM Championship in 1992, where Mercedes won 16 of the 24 races.

Im ersten Lauf des Flugplatzrennens in Diepholz am 5. August 1990 siegt Kurt Thiim (Startnummer 6) mit AMG Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II DTM-Renntourenwagen. Es ist der erste DTM-Sieg des erfolgreichen Fahrzeugs. In the first event of the Diepholz airfield race on 5 August 1990, Kurt Thiim (start number 6) won in an AMG Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II DTM touring race car. This was the first race victory for this very successful car.

The EVO II is nothing short of spectacular and launched Mercedes into the nineties with infinite kudos and prestige, massive spoiler and all.

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