• Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. The black 190 E 2.5-16 EVO II lurks in the dim hangar together with a plane. It seems prepared to do anything.

    Guest feature: The EVOlution of the 190 E.

    In the late 1980s, Mercedes-Benz together with AMG built a black projectile which still teaches us the true meaning of fear.

    Text: Jens Tanz | Photos: Julian Morris –

Fast – powerful – black.

Outside, flies buzz in the light of one lantern. Inside it is pitch black. There is a brief click and then three ceiling lamps flicker providing a vague view of the scene. Lots of yellow petrol drums. A silver aeroplane. A black car. It is rarer than many a Ferrari and is more treasured than the British crown jewels. You only understand why when you drive it.

Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. The high performance racing car is hardly visible in the dim light. But woe betide you when its engine comes alive. Then, it is very much there.
Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. The headlamps on the extremely rare homologation racing car shimmer yellow in a hint of France.

The 190 E became the EVOlution.

As early as the 1980s, the strait-laced 190 E was taught to fly with a 16-valve engine. Volker Weidler and Roland Asch drove the light-weight to an overall second place in the DTM. In 1989, AMG stepped up a gear and burned the 2.5-16 onto the road. With 195 PS and a top speed of around 230 km/h, the “EVOlution” took the field completely from the rear. From 1989 to 1990, exactly 502 blue-black metallic 190 E left the production line and were taken to AMG.

  • Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. A top-quality interior; very few changes were made to the upmarket standard equipment. Climb in, feel at home and be at one with the technology.

Lower. Wider. And unbelievably fast.

The homologation series that was developed there and which in the touring car championships has to be derived from the production model, was the most brutal thing daddy’s eyes had ever seen. An extremely high-revving four-cylinder engine with 235 PS and a top speed of over 250 km/h. Spoilers that pressed so powerfully and low to the ground that the humps at McDrive became an insurmountable obstacle. A rear aerofoil that put every Manta to shame.

17-inch wheel rims boasting 245/40 ZR 17 tyres that meant the wings had to be widened significantly. In the interior, adrenaline seeped out of every check in the patterned racing seats. The practical cockpit had three additional instruments on the centre console, but remained otherwise unchanged. The pilot was not to be distracted by too much frippery. The car was such a clear statement that even Porsche drivers tipped their golf caps devoutly and with respect.

30,000 kilometres, smell of a new car.

The owner of the EVO II skims over the rear aerofoil with one hand and unlocks both doors. The interior smells like a new car, the odometer reads only a little over 30,000 real kilometres. At auction one of these in good condition fetches a good 200,000 euros – if you can get one at all. You could buy a nice little house in the country for that. However that is as little able to drive as the Queen’s crown jewels. This bad, black wedge-shaped vehicle here is. And how it can drive.

Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. Anyone who owns an EVO II could move it a lot. There is sufficient space and power to do that. The car's high value prevents most drivers from using it on a daily basis.
Mecedes-Benz: E 190 2.5-16 EVO II: Dashboard.

Release the beast!

It all happens so quickly. Five manual gears. It leaves the hangar with short throttle blips. The steering is so direct that you recap the last office party at the go-cart track in your head. The suspension is so hard that you want to know what will happen over 5,000 revs. Maximum torque isn’t reached below that anyway. The EVO drifts around the hangar repeatedly. Four times. Five times. Driving at the speed of light back into the past.

Record-holder and time machine.

An EVO II is not an everyday car. There would even be enough space for the whole family and a booster seat on the deep rear seats and there is a trunk, too. But you’d much better only bring out a contemporary witness like this for special occasions. It tells of the spirit of the time during the 80s and early 90s. They are back again; the good old rough times of motorsport. 1990 third place with Kurt Thiim. 1991 second place with Klaus Ludwig. 1992 first place also with Klaus Ludwig. 16 victories in 24 races, nothing like that has ever happened in the history of the DTM since. Waste heat is still wafting out from under the black cloak of the wicked car. The roll-up gate closes behind us. Outside it is pitch black. Inside lurks the 2.5-16 waiting for its next cue. It is always awake and ready. Now, take a deep breath – and return to the present.

Mercedes-Benz: 190 E 2.5 16 EVO II. All the other vehicles usually only get to see the rear lights and powerful rear aerofoil of the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 EVO II.