Just 502 of these M3-rivalling 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II's were ever made.
With the aim to conquer Germany's DTM racing series, Mercedes built the 2.3-16 Cosworth, a high-performance derivative of the 190E. But BMW's E30 M3 Evolution prompted a boost in power, resulting in the 2.5-16 Evolution. Just one year later, Mercedes-Benz made even more improvements to its compact sports sedan, resulting in the ultra-rare Evolution 2.
With just 502 made, it's a coveted collector car, so when one comes up for sale, it's a pretty big deal. Listed on Bring A Trailer, this piece of motoring history will definitely be at the center of some spirited bidding in the next few days. This Blauschwarz Metallic example has just 11,000 miles on the clock and presents as immaculate. This specific car was sold new in Germany, spending time in Greece and Portugal, before being imported to the United States.
The 2.5-liter inline-four engine produces a healthy 232 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, providing a 0-60-mph sprint time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. To put this into perspective, the R129 500 SL of the time (with 322 hp and a 5.0-liter V8) was only 0.3 seconds quicker to 60 mph. Evolution II models were fitted, as standard, with an AMG PowerPack which includes revised camshafts, engine management reprogramming, and an upgraded exhaust system, among other things.
A race car for the road, the special Cosworth Evo II was only offered with a dogleg five-speed manual gearbox. The shift knob shows this specific example is 473 of 502. A limited-slip differential was standard fitment, along with self-leveling suspension and racier 17-inch wheels. The Miami-based Mercedes boasts a full service history, clean Florida title, the original toolkit, factory books, and import documents.
The outlandish (for Mercedes, at least) body kit was a drastic departure for the brand. With conservative stablemates such as the W124 E-Class and W126 S-Class, the Evolution featured a menacing aerodynamic package with an adjustable rear wing, rear window spoiler, and flared wheel arches. While the styling is what so many people love about the 190E Evo II, aesthetics weren't the motivation. Mercedes contracted Professor Richard Eppler to design a kit that would reduce drag. The result? A dar coefficient of 0.29, which is still remarkable today.
This may be a track weapon, but Mercedes didn't skimp on luxury features for this homologation special. Inside, leather-trimmed Recaro bucket seats dominate the interior, with even the rear bench eschewing its three-person setup in favor of two bucket seats. Naturally, the front pews are heated. Air conditioning, a sunroof, and the original Becker Grand Prix cassette player are all present. Something lesser 190E's didn't receive were the three dials sited beneath the radio. The additional gauges provided the driver with information about the oil temperature and battery voltage.
The auction concludes in two weeks yet (on February 12 at 21:00), and at the time of writing, bidding was sitting at a hefty $230,000. That's no surprise, though - the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II and its predecessors are a massive part of motoring history.
Its legendary feud with the BMW M3 dominated European race tracks and sparked a rivalry that's still alive to this day. What's more, it has spawned a long line of compact performance Mercedes sedans, such as the latest AMG C63. We wouldn't be surprised if the price crept up closer to the $500,000 mark - the ultimate 190E is a seriously special car, and with so few made, we're willing to bet some Mercedes enthusiasts with deep pockets will pay anything to add this to their collections.