Autobahn Rivals:Mercedes 190e vs BMW E30 M3

Homologation specials- Episode 1- Autobahn Rivals

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When the name Homologation creeps in, the only name that comes to our mind is the E30 M3, but is it really a Homologation car that was purpose-built by the Munich Engineers? Well!! it's not. Indeed BMW created the E30 M3 only because Mercedes Benz had already created the 190e 2.3 16.

The entire idea of the 2.3 16 came up with Jimmy Carter's proposed fuel emission standards. The 2.3 16 was indeed developed with the World Rally Championship(WRC) in mind, but considering the cost of production Mercedes quit from WRC and banned it all together. This kind of took a toll on the development of the 2.3 16, but engineers at Mercedes were secretly still working on the car. The end result was three world and nine speed records. This got AMG working with the car and lead to the ultimate 190e 2.3 16 Cosworth, the glory of the Homologation series. The first race on the Grand Prix circuit at the famed Nurburgring was between 20 identical 190e 2.3 16 racing to glory whose end result was Ayrton Senna at the podium.

All this aggravated the tension on the Munich engineers, who along with the support of the M racing group of BMW put a car so vengeful that even the mighty Cossie was under-powered. This became one of the greatest rivalries of its time. BMWs and Mercs competing in the touring car championships and nail-biting finishes, the quarrels between Beamers and Mercers was how the 80s touring car segment was.

Both cars were so similar on paper that one couldn't differentiate them. They both had a 2.3L inline 4 cylinder DOHC engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The Merc was laid to rest in case of power, the M3 pumped a whopping 192hp revving up to the higher 6000 mark while the 2.3 16 could only deliver 162hp. The Merc had an engine created by Cosworth while the BMW engine came straight out of an F1 car. 500 road going iteration of both cars were made, so talking about the race tracks is only one-quarter of the show.

Out in the open autobahn, the 190e was the king, the euro spec car was so fast that it was the fastest car on the autobahn. It was costlier than any six-cylinder S-Class but faster than the V8 and as a classic trademark, once again over-engineered to the point of ridiculousness. The dog-leg transmission, the complex engine dynamics and the list continues. The Merc's production run lasted a short span of a year but the M3 was in production for four years, from 1988 - 1991.

This proves to be one of the greatest car rivalries of the century and indeed the BMW and Merc boards at the Nurburgring are the result of these two boy-racers grumbling at the circuit. The Merc, on one hand, is an aristocratic sports car while the M3 is the car for the young blood. Though the 190e Cosworth is long gone the reminiscence lives in the hearts of petrol heads to this day.

Stay Tuned for episode 2 of Homoplogation Specials- The GT1 monsters

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