With the BMW M3 Sport Evolution gaining notoriety with DTM racing homologation, Mercedes Benz responded on March 1989 with the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution, debuted at the Geneva Auto Show to enthusiastic acclaim. Only 502 units of the Evolution model were produced for homologation in compliance with DTM rules of a minimum of 500 units of production. By the beginning of June 1989, all cars had not only been produced but pre-sold, each one in blue-black (199 U) metallic. Because these were only built for homologation, at great cost to Mercedes they were only ever supplied in LHD. The vast majority were sold by MB directly to eager owners in Germany. The Evo I, as it came to be called had a new larger spoiler and a widened track with resulting a wider body, deeper front air-dam and a larger rear spoiler including a wedge section, which helped increase downforce, Body modification rules to comply were minimal and meant the road cars produced had to look just like the racing versions but changes were certainly not only skin deep on the Evolution 1. The already excellent multi-link MB rear suspension was enhanced with 23% stiffer spring rates & matched shock absorbers compared to the standard 2.5-16's & included SLS suspension to each wheel, providing improved ride & control. This adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension allowed a height variation of 3 positions through a range of 30mm via a 3 position dash-mounted switch. The Evo I's output was similar to the 202 bhp of the "regular" 2.5-16 but was equipped with a re-designed engine of similar capacity but with a squarer bore & stroke (97.3 / 82.8) to allow for higher rev limits & power in racing applications. On these production models, the rev limit was set at 7250 rpm compared to the 7000 rpm of the "cooking" 16V's. Additional changes to engine design included: " lightened rotating masses, improved lubrication and altered camshaft timing ". Cosworth also listed a project code "WAC" for the development of the short-stroke Evolution engine.
The exterior of this Evo 1 has been so well cared for since new, it remains in Concours condition with no pin dents, scratches nor prior accident repairs sustained during its lifetime. A distinct lack of stone chips serves to indicate this car wasn't driven hard, either. Brightwork on the roof & window frames isn't faded (it is still like new), which serves to indicate the car hasn't sat outside, exposed to UV over the years. Of the other examples we have compared this example to, none so far have stood up to comparative scrutiny.
The exterior is in Concours condition with no pin dents, scratches nor prior accident repairs during its life. A lack of stone chips serves to indicate this car wasn't driven hard, either. Brightwork on the roof & window frames isn't faded (still like new), which serves to indicate the car hasn't sat outside, exposed to UV over the years.
The interior is in stunning condition with unmarked (heated front) leather seats. Specification includes the original fire extinguisher, torch and first-aid kit, all of which are also unused. The head unit is a period-looking Clarion unit (USB compatible) but also included, is the original MB head unit with this car, for complete originality. Fitted floor mats are by Yanase, appointed MB importers for Japan. This car hasn't been smoked in, so it has that characteristic MB leather interior smell. Sunroof works perfectly too. The boot area remains presentable and the original Evolution I spare wheel remains unused - complete with a complete & unused tool kit, jack & warning triangle mounted on the boot lid. Door panels are in perfect condition too, a testament to how carefully this car's been looked after and not left outside in the elements & heat, as most examples.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
This example is documented as having been fitted with the AMG PowerPack option on 26th May 1989 when new & still in Germany. Owners were naturally advised by AMG to run engines in at low rpm before the powerpack conversion was fitted, so this car is recorded as having had 1,185km at time of conversion. The car was owned by a wealthy German enthusiast for its first 2 years, before being specially imported to Japan, where it has been meticulously kept since always garaged & with a continuing maintenance record detailing every task completed throughout its life.
WHEELS, BRAKES & SUSPENSION
Brakes are in perfect fettle, having been serviced and checked over by ourselves. Self Leveling Suspension is also in perfect fettle, having been regularly serviced and cared for. The original 16" wheels have original finish and are still in near new condition with no corrosion whatsoever. This is also testament and confirmation this car never having been used in winters during its entire life. As such the underside has no rust at all, a level of condition & integrity rarely found on these 190 models these days. Being Mercedes W124 enthusiasts and suppliers, we sourced a set of 4 original Evolution II 17" wheels from an E500 Limited (As fitted to later Evo II 190E models), which we feel suit this body style better than the original wheels. Naturally, the original 16" wheels are also included and we will fit a brand new set of Contisport tyres to the wheels the new owner prefers the car to wear when supplied.
This has been a non-smoker's car since new and clearly the previous owner in Japan took fastidious care of it. Interior condition is breathtaking and leather quality and feel, still like new. There are no faults to report. Note also the total absence of any rust at all beneath. Currently stored in a dry and dehumidified garage & under a breathable cover and only driven carefully from time to time for short distances, the bodywork is in perfect form, with no cosmetic faults to report.
There’s a very direct and connected to the road feel when driving this unique Benz. Certainly, in terms of ride & build quality, this is a better car than the E30 M3, a car which throughout its life, the 190E 2.5-16 was often compared to. This one is the direct competitor to the BMW M3 Evolution models, but in our eyes, is the better car. The SLS suspension is superior in its control with no body roll very well well-controlled and steering feel is similarly communicative. There are no rattles, squeaks or signs of a worn chassis. It feels tight and ready for any journey, whether it be a weekend’s excursion or a trip to Germany for an Autobahn blast with a trip to the Nurburgring along the way.
There's nothing to report amiss which is to be expected, given the care and attention this car has had lavished on it. The engine starts at the turn of the key & settles to a smooth idle, gearbox linkage has no slop and the car drives perfectly with no wear to synchromesh, etc. Note we had the LSD overhauled as part of our maintenance work, this work has been completed to perfection by one of the best-known motorsport specialists in the UK, whose business is in rebuilding LSD's each & every day. Reading through the records it's clear no expense was spared. For example, all the suspension spheres & SLS fluid were changed annually, which was excessive but shows the level of care the car had. Naturally, the SLS remains in perfect working order. During the most recent years, it covered increasingly less mileage, as it's Japanese owner got too old to continue enjoying the car. It remains in perfect condition and of course, comes complete with a meticulously documented service history. Although it's clearly been serviced (oil is golden) as with all of the MB's we supply, this car was given a complete & thorough service & check upon arrival to our base in the UK with documentation to show and continues to be looked after impeccably. It is perfect in every way & fully ready for use by its future owner.
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- LayoutFront Engined
- Size2,500 cc
- AspirationNormally Aspirated
- Power225 bhp
- Torque240 lbs/ft
- Top speed146 mph
- Acceleration0 to 62 in 7.1 secs
- Driven WheelsRear Wheel Drive
- Body typeSaloon
- Vehicle height-
- Vehicle width-
Previous Owners 2
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