Hereby Road & Rail, we love homologation specials. These road race cars – many of which were completely unjustified from a financial standpoint – existed for the sole purpose of enabling automakers to build even crazier race cars to race. Some of them have spawned the best performing sub-brands in the automotive industry. Others, like just about everything from the Group B rally era, were commercial failures, memorable for their incredible impact in short-lived racing series.
The W201-generation Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth falls somewhere in between: an instant classic in its own right, still known to many as the car that lived in the shadow of the E30 BMW M3. The 190E race car, however, was a different story.
German Touring Car Racing (DTM) is now considered the pinnacle of sedan racing of the 1980s and 1990s, but the series did not begin to be awarded a Manufacturer Championship until 1991. When that happened, Mercedes won the title twice, competing with the factory front BMW M3 and Audi V-8 Quattro programs. That success was due in no small part to AMG, then an independent tuning house and racing program that traced its roots back to the “red pig” 300 SEL 6.3 of the late 1960s. The Cosworth 190Es wouldn’t have a direct successor, but Mercedes saw enough value in the partnership with AMG to build a performance variant of the C-Class that followed. Shortly afterwards Mercedes acquired AMG, the old DTM racing branch was spun off (into the still existing HWA team), and the rest is history.
However, this particular car was not driven by AMG. This DTM spec 190E 2.5-16 Evo II was driven by Snobeck, who drove two cars in the series during the 1991 season. This car was used by lead driver Alain Cudini, on his way to sixth in the ’91 DTM Championship. It would mark the pinnacle of Cudini’s career in the series, but not the end of this car’s racing life.
After DTM, this Mercedes floated around for two seasons in the Belgian Procar series with driver Michel Neugarten. Then a racing engineer bought it to race in smaller events in the 1990s. He only came off the track about ten years ago, after which the engineer overhauled the engine that still powers it today, presumably the original engine he ran in DTM. The car was then sold to the current owner.
The Snobeck car will be put up for auction on February 3 by Bohnams in Paris. The auction house estimates it will sell for between $340,000 and $450,000.
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