This Tuned Mercedes-Benz 190 E Is The Ultimate Canyon Runner

Feb 15, 2019 2 min read
Tuned Mercedes-Benz 190 E

They usually say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but this Smoking Tire video featuring a hot-rod tuned Mercedes 190E might just prove that old saying wrong…

Mercedes originally developed the 190 E to contend in the World Rally Championship. As such, billions of Dollars were invested in the model's progression over a six-year development period. Yet when the 190 E was finally ready, WRC plans for the car had ultimately changed.

However, all was not lost as Mercedes now boasted of a competent new vehicle with which to take on the market-hogging BMW 3 Series, Audi 80 and Saab 900. After racing a 190 E around Germany's infamous Nürburgring, Ayrton Senna enthusiastically bought one as personal transport, clearly suggesting the saloon was something rather special.

However, no matter how good a classic car is, most mechanically minded owners can’t help but change and tweak the drivetrain. In Smoking Tire’s Youtube video, presenter Zack Klapman takes this modified Euro-spec 2.3 16v 190 E through some of America’s twisting canyons while discussing what makes this modified Mercedes so unique.'

Possessing identical exterior aesthetics to a US-spec 190 E, it’s hard to initially know there’s much difference going on. The first clue is a stamp on the door that showcases who imported the Benz in 1985, alongside subtle styling cues to give the sedan a DTM look. This model is a grey-market model and underneath there’s a different fuelling system and ignition curve, combined to produce an additional 20 hp from the off.

Subsequently based on a DTM header with a continuous injection system and equalized runners, this 190 E now runs with a flatter torque band, delivering more hp throughout the rev range. The red line has moved from 4000rpm to 7200rpm, while timing adjustments can be made from the cabin depending on gas quality.

Factor in modified valve springs, throttle body, flywheel and pulleys, and this 190 E now chruns out around 210 hp with a pronounced note gushing from those enlarged exhaust outlets. Meanwhile, an electric fan kit helps the system cope with increased performance.

This Tuned Mercedes-Benz 190 E Is The Ultimate Canyon Runner

While impressively quick in a straight-line, this 190 E excels through the canyon’s chicanes as it performs a superbly balanced dance through the apexes. This comes thanks to specialist Ground Control Suspension, a Wavetrac differential and a petite 13” steering wheel. Satisfying changes throughout the manual transmission come from solid-shift Delrin units in place of the original rubber bushings.

Inside there are signs that the original buyer didn’t care much for the options list as many features – including electric windows, powered sunroof, temperature gauge and rear courtesy light – are missing. Side-impact bars were added to accommodate U.S regulations and the speedometer has been changed to read in mph.

Overall weight has been reduced from over 3000lbs to just under 2500lbs, while air conditioning keeps the cabin cool and a hounds-tooth upholstery finish adds understated style. Could this be the fastest 190 E on American soil?

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