Like many great Mercedes models, the 190e Evolution I was built for racing, or rather, to homologate entry into racing, and it packed some track-minded gear to boot. Immediately evident are the body mods—the pumped up fenders and the taller rear wing—which are shared with the Evo I’s racing cousin, and complement wider 16-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, and a trick height-adjustable suspension. All Evolution models came in the sinister black paint.
Its 2.5-16 engine (2.5 liters, 16-valves) also varied significantly from the standard mill found in other 190E sedans at the time. Its stroke was shorter, bore was larger, it could rev about 300 rpm more, and generated around 195 horsepower. An AMG Power Pack was also available, for a steep price, which bumped output up to 225 horsepower.
These cars were far from drag strip demons, but reflective of their touring car homologation, they could more than handle themselves when things got twisty. But in 1990, Mercedes one-upped itself again and brought forth the sinisterly styled Evolution II model, seen below. It did not mess around.
The Evolution II brought bigger fender flares, a giant rear wing, 17-inch six-spoke wheels, and when prodded could unleash 235 horsepower. Its racing counterpart proved capable as well, taking the DTM championship in 1992.
In hindsight, the Evolution I is essentially the better behaved brother of two naughty siblings, but that certainly doesn’t detract from its no-nonsense persona. Pull up to a race track in one of these cars and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get noticed.
Photo Credit: Kevin Wester and Mercedes press