Mercedes-Benz's manic track weapon

For years the Mercedes-Benz 190E struggled to fight the BMW M3 on the racetracks for years – despite a head start of its Munich rival.

In fairness, the 190E was meant to earn its competitive stripes on rally stages, but Audi’s four-wheel drive revolution changed all that. Over the years, the 190E Cosworth was honed, but it still couldn’t beat the BMW M3.

Radical action was needed, and the 190E Evolution II was the result. While we’d seen fast Mercedes before, and certainly seen outlandish modified creations from the likes of Lorinser, Koenig, AMG and Brabus, Mercedes-Benz was still a reserved company at the time. There were fast Mercs, certainly, but they were subtle. The Evo II changed all that.

Its rear wing dominates proceedings, raising high off the bootlid and attached with what look like golf clubs. Then there are the engorged bumpers and arches, turning the handsome-but-unexciting 190E into a hardcore hero. It’s not all for show either, it all helps keep the 190E pinned to the ground at high speed.

It’s quick, too, with 231bhp – officially; anecdotal evidence points to a lot more – and 150mph+ available.  That’s all marshalled through a five-speed dogleg gearbox, and transmitted to the road via 17” alloy wheels. It’s about as far away from the buttoned-down W124s that Mercedes were known for at the time.

The road car tweaks proved their worth on track too, with Mercedes-Benz finally claiming the DTM title in 1992. Job done.

The road car is very rare – just 502 were built, and it’s in high demand. This one, up for grabs with Historics at Brooklands (www.historics.co.uk) this weekend has covered less than 9000 miles, and is in fantastic condition. With an estimate of £180,000 to £220,000, it’s one for the committed, but what you’re getting is one of the most extreme road cars produced, and a hero of the era.