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Author: Jonathon Ramsey

HWA Evo is a modern take on the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II

In 1989, Mercedes-Benz built 502 units of a very racy sedan called the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo, its homologation car for the 190 E racer in the German Touring Car (DTM) series. This is the same series that convinced BMW to create the M3, which BMW drivers used to win the DTM Driver’s Championship in 1987 and 1989 (there was no manufacturer’s championship at the time), and the first Evo was the car Mercedes used to return to factory motor racing after quitting all such activities in the wake of the Le Mans crash in 1955. (M-B began supplying Peter Sauber with engines for Group C racing in the mid-1980s, though.) Mercedes drivers couldn’t lift the big trophy with the Evo, so in 1990 and 1991, Mercedes turned its first effort into the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II. Thanks to DTM instituting a manufacturer’s championship by this time, Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig drove the Evo II to both trophies in 1992, and the 502 roadgoing versions became collector rarities. Whereas Evo I values average somewhere in the low $100s, Evo II sales average around $300,000 according to Classic.com. 

This is one of the reasons a German outfit called HWA chose to create a modernized version of the Evo II on a standard Mercedes 190 E chassis, that of the plain beige four-door that filled taxi fleets in Germany at the time. The other reason is that HWA stands for Hans-Werner Aufrecht, the gentleman who provided the “A” in AMG. When AMG was a separate company, Aufrecht worked with Mercedes on the Evo I and Evo II, and his independent HWA outfit continued never stopped prepping Mercedes race cars even after Mercedes completed its acquisition of AMG.

Based on the sedan’s specs, it’s probably best not to think of the HWA Evo as a restomod, since nothing is restored and everything is a modification. The only pieces that remain from the 190 E shell are cant rails (the structural member running over the doors between the A- and C-pillars), and C-pillar. It’s best to consider this a current imagining of what an Evo III might look like, using modern components. Start with the engine. Instead of the Cosworth-tuned, high-revving 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the HWA Evo is powered by Mercedes’ M276 twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 from cars like the AMG E 43 that Mercedes recently replaced with its twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. HWA buys the M276 new, disassembles it to balance the rotating assembly, installs a dry sump so the engine can sit lower in the chassis, and plugs in an HWA-programmed ECU. Final output for the standard version is 444 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, an Affalterbach Package raises that to 493 hp, to move a car targeted to weigh about 3,220 pounds. Shorter gearing in the six-speed manual transaxle transmission give the standard car better acceleration but a lower top speed of 168 miles per hour. The longer legs in the Affalterbach Package take top speed to 189 mph.  

Side note: When Motor Trend asked HWA why it went with a six-cylinder when the original made do with a four, we’re told that a V8 would have been too tough to fit into the bay, and HWA chief technical officer Gordian von Schöning said, “In the beginning we were really pushing for a four-cylinder engine because we thought this was something AMG is promoting, and we can probably push it to 500 horsepower. But customers said a four-cylinder engine was not special.”

The body shell is stripped and reinforced with aluminum and high-strength steel for stiffness and improved crash protection. The front axle’s moved forward two inches, the rear axle 1.2 inches, helping deliver a 50:50 weight balance. HWA sourced Evo II-spec glass, thinner and lighter than the regular sedan’s windows. The new carbon fiber body panels are bonded to the shell, and swell so much below the belt line that the HWA Evo is nine inches wider than an Evo II.

KW shocks connect a race-spec multi-link suspension at both ends, the base car offering manual shock adjustment, the Affalterbach Package giving drivers electronic suspension controls in the cockpit. Six-piston front brakes work 15-inch rotors behind 190-inch wheels, while in back, four-piston calipers clamp 14-inch rotors behind 20-inch wheels.

Inside, front passengers sit in Recaro seats looking at digital gauges that mimic the original displays.

HWA’s putting the one car it’s built so far through a year-long testing and development phase. Once completed, HWA will build one car per week, up to 100 units in total, 75 of which have already been sold at €714,000 ($765,000 U.S.) apiece. After that, we hear there are plans for HWA to come up with a modern interpretation of the AMG Hammer.

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Willow Springs International Raceway is up for sale

Willow Springs International Raceway is like the dandelion of racetracks — you don’t think about it much, but when you look around, you see it crop up everywhere. Located in Southern California about an hour northeast of Los Angeles and established with the help of Ken Miles in 1953, Bill and Maxine Huth bought it from Miles in 1962 and expanded the recreational options over the decades while keeping the place accessible. For decades, it has hosted the average track day for cars and motorcycles, racing schools, drift events, commercial shoots like that for the Jeep Wagoneer S, movie shoots like Ford vs. Ferrari,” and car launches like the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8, the 1965 Shelby GT350R Competition, and the 2022 Porsche Taycan GTS.   

The Huth’s stewardship earned Willow Springs designation as a California Point of Historical Interest in 1996. Bill Huth died at 91 years old in 2015; his family has run the track since then as they thought he would. Now, the site calling itself the “Fastest Road in the West” is for sale with listing agents Team Scarborough. Daughter Stephanie Huth wrote to Road Racing World, “Five generations of our family have enjoyed being stewards of America’s first purpose-built road racing circuit. Our parents, Bill and Maxine, bought a ghost of a 2.5-mile road course in the middle of nowhere. They had no backing. Dad had $17 the day they paved it. Sacrifices were made. Today, it is a unique and substantial motorsport and technological complex, ready for its new chapter. Personally, I can’t wait to see what the next stewards will do. Like Dad, I’m still waiting for someone to do a one-minute lap on ‘the Fastest Road in the West.’”

The 600-acre complex is a Disneyland for racers, but larger — counting 100 acres more than Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure parks put together. There are seven racetracks: Balcony Autocross & Skidpad (¼-mile autocross and drift course); Big Willow (2.5-mile road course available in Gran Turismo and iRacing, pictured above); Horse Thief Mile (the famous mile-long road course with numerous elevation changes); Kart Track (0.625-mile paved sprint track); Speedway Willow Springs (¼-mile paved oval); Streets of Willow Springs (1.8-mile road course); Walt James Stadium (3/8-mile clay and paved ovals). Outside of that, there are off-roading options among 160 desert acres.

For those not hard at it behind the wheel, there are admin areas, spaces for dining and catering, gift shops, a fuel depot with thousands of gallons of tank space, a pit complex, and the other ancillaries a running track would need. Oh, there are also water wells, good to have in Willow’s inland desert location.  

The listing advertises everything Willow Springs will offer a new owner. However, it didn’t list a price, instead inviting the interested to submit an offering memorandum, which would be a first step to being considered a viable buyer. An assessment on the site from June 4, 2024, values the complex at $2,253,440. Yes, the location is going to need some investment, but the stated value is less than the price of a single example of the dozen or so supercars that have debuted in the past few years. 

Even if you’re not going to buy, we recommend visiting the listing to check out the Timeline and Family Legacy pages. Fascinating stuff.

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