There’s a Mercedes 190E Evo II For Sale In California
Unicorn spotted in the U.S.A.
The Eighties were a heady time for German touring cars. First, the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 in 1984, then the original BMW M3, the E30 generation car, in 1986. In the next three years later, the guys at Daimler offered two rebuttals, first the 190E 2.5, then the 190E Evo. Neither could quite catch the M3. So, in 1990, at the Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes rolled out the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. In terms of compact sedans, it might as well have been the Moon Landing.
The engine resulted from a joint venture with Cosworth and AMG. The short stroke, dual-overhead cam four-cylinder was a screamer, good for 235 horsepower and 181 lb-ft., and 7,700 revs. But the big deal was the aero, utterly wild and ruthlessly effective. Mercedes brought in one Dr. Richard Eppler from Stuttgart University, an aerodynamics expert, to design the all-new body kit. This included humongoid fender flares, hyper-aggressive side skirts, and a neat rear window vane spoiler. Also an adjustable, ozone-scraping wing that gave race fans the tingles. Wind tunnel tests put Eppler’s design at a 0.29 drag coefficient, a figure superior to that of the current Porsche 911 Turbo, more than a quarter-century on. And, after years of losing to BMW, Mercedes finally took the DTM touring car racing championship in 1991, then again in 1992. The 190E Evo II is more than just an icon: It’s a treasure.
To wit, just 502 road-going examples were built in order to satisfy motorsports homologation rules. Finding one in Europe ain’t easy. Finding one in America? Damn near impossible. But today’s your lucky day. Orange County broker Original Rare has just listed a legit Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II on its website. This is car No. 281/502, and the odometer is parked at 4,863 km, or just over 3,000 miles. It’s got the Recaro buckets, the half-cage, the fuel cell, oversized Brembo brakes and four-lug OZ wheels, all the bits you’ll need to relight the DTM torch. The ask is $289,000. At the intersection of rarity, pedigree, and performance, it’s tough to think of something better at that price.