30 years ago, Benz made its performance sedans in-house.
These days if you want a go-fast Mercedes, you need look no farther than the letters AMG. But 30 years ago, Daimler had yet to bring the venerable Benz tuner into the fold. Yet it still made performance sedans, and this was arguably the most notable among them.
Unveiled at the 1990 Geneva Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II was essentially the precursor to today's Mercedes-AMG C63, and it was built as a homologation special - a street-legal version of the tin-top racer it fielded in Germany's highly competitive DTM touring-car series.
The Evo II packed a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine good for 235 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. That may not seem like much by today's standards, when even a base C300 sedan offers more than that. But this was at a time when the standard 190 E 1.8 had just 109 hp, and your run-of-the-mill Corvette offered barely more at 245 hp (though the base C4 did have almost twice as much torque at 345 lb-ft). It also had an aggressive, race-inspired body kit, with a giant rear wing giving it over 125 pounds of downforce on the rear axle.
The Evo II also had a stiffer suspension, mounted to 17-inch wheels (which were pretty huge for the time). Only 502 examples were made, all of them in the same metallic shade of blueish black. And though we weren't there at the time (owing nothing to any pandemic), we can bet it made quite an impression on those present for the unveiling in Geneva three decades ago.
Nine years later, DaimlerChrysler acquired controlling interest in AMG, and bought the rest of it in 2005. The rest, as they say, is history - in which the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II holds a special place.