The DTM, or Germany’s own racing series, is often called the golden age of touring car racing. The series only lasted from 1984 to 1996, but it gave petrolheads some of the closest racing ever, making the heroes the men who raced the cars and the cars themselves.
The cars were massively modified versions of everyday sedans, which was really why the DTM was so popular in the first place. He gave anyone the dream of owning their favorite racing car. The race was hard and fast, especially between the three biggest German manufacturers – BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The rulebook basically gave us homologation specials for the road with screaming race engines! The Mercedes-Benz 190E (subsequently Evo I and Evo II) dominated the series when it entered in 1985 but only won the championship in 1992 thanks to fierce rivalry between Audi and BMW, which makes him one of the most feared drivers in the DTM.
And the team of FCP euros, a Connecticut auto parts store, builds a tribute to him based on a regular Mercedes 190E six-cylinder, the C-Class of the time. But with a difference. This car is reinvented with a modern AMG powertrain – the most powerful four-cylinder engine in the world, the 2.0-litre M133 from a hot Mercedes-AMG A45 hatchback! What’s even more special is that the car will feature a manual swap, making it the first of its kind.
Follow the special construction in homage to the DTM, transforming an ordinary Mercedes-Benz 190E into DTM racing specification and beyond.
The Mercedes 190E DTM-Tribute starts with a complete teardown
The team begins construction with a careful dismantling of the car. Being the Euro car specialists that they are, any interior parts and OEM parts they won’t need will go to enthusiasts who do. Considering how rare 190E models are, that’s a good thing.
Even the whole wiring harness is removed, as it will be a complete motorsport build. The team struggled to remove the heavy sound deadening material (essentially tar) that Mercedes installed all over the floor of the car. But the age-old trick of using dry ice to super cool the tar and then removing it worked wonders.
This 190E is equipped with an AMG A45 engine
While a four-cylinder engine would have found its way into the low-end race cars of the DTM era, the technology has come a long way. The M133 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developed by AMG and handcrafted in Affalterbach is a prime example of how far it can go. It’s the most powerful four-cylinder engine in the world, with more power than the 190E racers had in the ’90s.
For the DTM tribute version, this is the perfect powertrain to bring the 190E into the modern era. But that’s not the end of the story. Because the FCP Euro team decided to remove a six-speed manual transmission from one of their first Mercedes C300 race cars and drop it in the DTM tribute!
This is not a common swap, as the M133 was never offered with a manual transmission. What the team realizes, however, is that synchronizing the M133’s flywheel with the transmission isn’t the end of the world, and that a relatively simple fix suffices. What needs to be done is to swap out the oil pan on the engine to suit the rear wheel drive application in their case. The M133 was front wheel drive only, but again they manage to find a solution from the oil pan of another engine (M274) that shares a similar engine build, but with an RWD setup. Custom engine mounts complete the mounting process.
Even the installation of the modern transmission in the engine compartment of the Mercedes of the 80s does not require too much effort. This involves trimming the subframe, but as anyone who’s ever attempted an engine swap will tell you, that’s the least of the worries. More complex is the installation of a modern steering system on the car, which still allows ideal steering geometry on the DTM tribute.
AMG, Volvo and BMW parts make their way into construction
Using suspension components from a C63 AMG and without the restrictions of DTM rules, the team could really push the limits of what the 190E platform is capable of. They even source intercooler components from Volvo, then use a BMW steering rack and tie rods. That makes the DTM homage a mix of some of the Mercedes DTM rivals of the era, so we guess it really is a fitting homage.
The 190E then received a muscular Evo II body kit, Rotiform wheels, a full paint job and, to conclude, a bespoke livery inspired by the DTM drivers of the time. We’ve yet to see the build roll by itself, as the FCP Euro team is still working out the final details. The build is ongoing, but judging by the attention it garnered when it was showcased at Grid Life recently, it will inspire more people to take the DTM build path. And we are certainly not complaining!