The DTM and the Japanese Gr.A touring car series are two of my favorite championships from motorsport history. It was race series like these two that I feel created the biggest brand awareness between manufacturers and their fans, and it was all thanks to the souped-up production machines that battled against each other on Sundays.
The base machines were the dream cars of the late ’80s and early ’90s, one of them being the W201 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 which boasted a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine complete with a Cosworth-developed twin cam cylinder head.
That car was further refined in the later 2.5-16 variant, with Evolution and Evolution II versions following. In its ultimate 2.5-16 Evo II street car form, the model sported beefy fender flares and a towering rear wing, and came packing a 235hp punch from its AMG Power Pack equipped 2.5-liter M102 engine.
While the car here resembles a 2.5-16 Evo II on the outside, inside it’s a different story. Instead of a 2.5-liter Cosworth and AMG-tuned inline-four up front, there’s a 500hp+ Toyota 1JZ with a big single turbo.
The kit itself is full custom, and adding to the overall look are a few DTM-inspired touches.
I ended up choosing this car as my favorite of Art of Speed 2017, a vote that allowed its owner to win the ‘Best of Show’ award and a trip from Malaysia to the Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom Show in Japan as a prize.
If this car wasn’t a replica, there’s a very good chance that its owner would hardly touch it; it would more than likely be kept stored away in a garage waiting for its value to increase even further. But the reality is, this 190 E gets used on the streets and sees regular action on the mountain roads outside of Kuala Lumpur and at Sepang International Circuit.
It’s built to look like an icon, and with some outside the box thinking it’s been given double the performance. To me, that’s just cool. In many ways it reminds me of all the Hakosuka and Kenmeri GT-Rs driving around in Japan, that in fact aren’t GT-Rs but replicas. Porsche 911 RS, CS and RSR clones fall into the same category, and it certainly doesn’t bother me.
A modern pair of supportive OMP seats and a matching steering wheel spice up the simple ’80s cabin, with JDM gadgets like the A’PEXi AVC-R and turbo boost gauge hinting at the fact that this car is far from your average W201.
Dino Dalle Carbonare