The 190 E 2.5-16 became the basis for the racing cars entered in Group A of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). The only component of the production car that failed to satisfy the DTM racing car designers was the engine – racing engines have to meet some clearly defined requirements, such as a specific bore/stroke ratio.
The four-cylinder engine in the production version had a particularly long stroke, making it unsuitable for the very high engine speeds required for racing, and there was too little scope for boosting output. So the decision was made to design a completely new engine which, however, had to have the same displacement as the production version.
Not only the professionals driving the Silver Arrows based on the 190 benefited from this new development. The engine was also available to individual buyers looking for real power under the hood, in the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution, a road-going version of the sports car. This was because under the rules of the FIA, the governing body of international motor sport, a new engine would be accepted only if its basic version was fitted to a type-approved production vehicle. At least 500 cars had to be manufactured with the new engine, and so the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution was designed with the M 102 E 25/2 engine which was then further modified for racing.
Accordingly, in 1988, Mercedes-Benz re-entered the world of motor sport with this racing car based on a production 16-valve model, after its withdrawal from the racing arena in 1955, ending the legendary Silver Arrow era at the height of its success. The result of the enhancement project was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1989. The 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution was powered by the newly designed, high-torque, short-stroke engine, delivering 195 hp, exactly the same power as the engine of the 190 E 2.5-16. However, the engine of the Evolution variant left plenty of scope for power-boosting modifications.
The suspension was also modified for the car’s use in motor sport, including 16-inch wheels. The most noticeable modifications to the body were the front spoiler, the larger rear airfoil with its characteristic triangular wedge, and the larger wheel cut-outs with distinctively flared wheel arches. In just three months, Mercedes-Benz built exactly 502 of these cars with a blue black finish. They were sold to customers looking for sports car performance.
But the designers kept working on the cars intended for racing. For example, manifold injection was replaced by electronic control (Bosch Motronic MS 2.7), and the compression ratio was raised. The racing car emerged with a power output of 333 hp (245 kW) and a maximum torque of 290 Newton meters at 7000/min.
Story by MB
*Specification listed is with the optional power pack