Seen in a parking garage: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

[Disclaimer: This piece was written by Lauri Ahtiainen, of recent Motoring Con Brio fame. He drives a red Miata and a bunch of Peugeot 406:s. -Antti]
As black four door Mercs with inline four engines go, this one is pretty special. Sitting in a parking garage between a white Jetta and a grey Toyota Avensis wagon, I probably wouldn’t have spotted it without that rear wing. Oh yes, that rear spoiler. There is only one reason how such an outrageous device was fitted onto the boot of the 190E: because racecar.
One of only 502 examples made, this pristine-looking homologation special had only one reason to exist, and it was a tough one: to beat the E30 M3 in the DTM, the national touring car championship of Germany.
Following the cool, yet tame looking Cosworth-engined 2.3-16, 2.5-16 and Evo I, the Evo II was the one where Mercedes ditched everything conservative and let the engineers work with aerodynamics. Rumor says the panel blocking the upper part of the rear window is there to hide the rear spoiler from the rear view mirror, as regulations said the spoiler shall not be seen from the inside. I bet some engineer at Mercedes had a laugh when he realized the spoiler could go above the actual window, instead of staying below it…

Maybe it’s just a rumor, but it makes for a pretty cool story.

The 2.5 16V engine produces a healthy 235hp at 7200rpm. Not bad for the period, but quite far away from the racing versions making close to 400hp and revving up to 10,000rpm. The wheels on this example have been changed from the original six spoke items to OZ Racing Ultraleggeras, which might indicate the car might spend some time on a track too.

The interior itself is the total opposite of the exterior: it looks just as comfortable as any other top spec 190E.

Were the Evo II an aftermarket conversion, I would say the bodykit is really bad. It is way overdone, and especially the rear overfenders and the rear wing indeed look absurd. Yet the single fact that all the changes are functional and factory-made to beat the BMW M3 makes everything more than acceptable – it makes the Evo II one of the coolest sedan Mercedes’ ever.
[Photos: Lauri Ahtiainen]


  1. Love these cars, and I really like Ultraleggeras. They just don't work together. At all. Which is a bit surprising because they generally look good on anything.

    1. For me, it's just because the wheels have no lip… I know moving the spokes outward helps with brake clearance, but it makes them look high offset no matter what offset they actually are. Being sunk a little from the huge flares doesn't help their case.

  2. MInt. I see "regular" 2.5-16's from time to time, infrequently enought that I gawk. Wasn't the Merc 2.5-16 developed before the M3? I'm no historian, but I thought the M3 was actually the rebuttal.

  3. Ultraleggeras could have bit more aggressive offset, now they're sitting inside the arches. But the bold bodykit and rather square body design are indeed not the best combination with the wheels, I've to agree.
    The Evo II was released in 1990, when M3 had been in production for quite some time. Both the 190E 16Vs and M3 evolved during their life cycle, I only meant the Evo II had to beat the latest M3 model.

    1. That is the best YouTube video clip in the history of anything ever.
      You know, this spring I travelled in a Volkswagen Golf V5 and that song came up in the stereo. Man, did it send chills down my spine when I realised what it was.

    2. I nominate this song as the best '80s driving song. I have no idea what he's saying (heard John Steinbeck) but the association with this video makes it at least in the top 3 German driving songs.

    3. I have posted this video here and on my personal blog at least four times over the years. It continues to generate tremendous response and every time I see it around I have to take six minutes and one second to enjoy it all over again.

  4. Yeah, that definitely sends chills down the spine, and Verdamp Lang Her is definitely staying on my iPhone.

  5. The W201 cossie still holds as my #1 Car of all time. Beautiful, comfortable, fast, sexy… Hmm, wonder if I can find one…

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