Who hasn’t heard of RWB?
I was 13 years old when I saw my first RAUH-Welt Begriff video on YouTube. It was an interview of Akira Nakai with a 993 called ‘Yves Piaget’. Nakai-san was sat in a Chesterfield chair, chain smoking with a terrible song dubbed over the video. Eight years later and RWB is famous the world over, with Nakai-san flying across continents building some of the widest and wildest Porsches around.
It might seem off-topic right now (I promise it will make sense in a moment), but I’d like to raise another point which I think is hard to argue: Mercedes tuners have always been a wild bunch. Tremendous power for you sir? Brabus has you covered. You want some extra length in your limousine? Add some gold plating and you have yourself a Trasco. Renntech, Kleemans, Lorinser, the list just goes on and on…
Before AMG saddled up with Mercedes-Benz in 1990 it was an aftermarket company too. And it was in the pre-AMG 1980s that MB decided to go rallying in its newly-released 190 saloon. Cosworth, with its motorsport heritage and race engine building reputation was the obvious choice for a partner, and as such the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 was born.
The timing, however, couldn’t have been worse. Audi had just unveiled the Ur-quattro which dominated the rally scene. Only Lancia managed to make a stand against the all-conquering, all-wheel drive Audis, and even they eventually adopted 4WD. Mercedes was simply too late to the party.
Determined to prove the 190E in the world of motorsport, Mercedes looked elsewhere to race its sporty little saloon. The German DTM series proved to be the perfect place for the 190 to be pitched against its closest rival, the BMW M3.
This fierce competition led to the development of the 2.5-16, then the Evo I and Evo II variants of the 190E – arguably some of the greatest Mercedes cars ever built. The aftermarket quickly took note of the 190’s sporting prowess and provided a vast range of options for people who thought the standard Cosworth was just a little too… plain.
Still wondering why I’m going on about Mercedes? This is where the link comes in. As with most car people, brand loyalty only goes so far, and the folks at RWB are no exception.
This is why I urge you to look past the Porsches. Look past the over-fenders, past the empty bottles of Stella Artois, and the 20 decks of Winston Red cigarettes. You’ll find another side to RAUH-Welt Begriff that you might not have seen before, and trust me, it’s too good to miss.
Cue Tetsuro Yamazaki and his cherry red 190E.
While Nakai-san may be the ‘face’ of RWB, it’s Yamazaki-san who handles RAUH-Welt’s other business – the business of tuning and maintaining sweet-ass race machines for the RWB customer who isn’t all that interested in their car doing the rounds on Instagram (sigh), but all about running laps on the world’s race circuits.
20 years of friendship and partnership have allowed RWB to become what it is today, with Nakai and Yamazaki’s skills working together towards success.
Having always handled the mechanical side of the company, it was a no-brainer for Yamazaki-san to take the leap and have his own outfit, dedicated to making wide cars go fast. As such, RW-Republik was born.
Yamazaki-san isn’t just a Porschephile though, and his Mercedes most certainly proves it. As with the 2JZ-swapped 450 SLC I previously wrote about, this is a car that has more going on under the skin than you’d think.
It started life as an ordinary 190E 2.5-16, which Yamazaki-san wanted to turn into his perfect road car.
Your eyes are first drawn to the bodywork. The big, round, blistered arches contrast against the arrow-straight 190E body lines. Mercedes fans amongst us might recognise them as 2.5-16 Evo I arches, which are more prominent than the smoother Evo II items.
Inside those bulging arches are what appear to be a set of Ronal Pentas, but you’re actually looking at 17×8.5-inch and 17×9.5-inch HWA Asteroid wheels. They’re designed to cater for the driver who wants to maintain OEM style, yet run a more aggressive setup than was produced in the 1970s and ’80s. They’re also manufactured by Higuchi-san, who owns that 2JZ-powered SLC mentioned above.
Wrapped in Michelin tyres and combined with a set of Aragosta coilovers, this 190 has a dynamic stance, appropriate for a seasoned DTM machine. An AMG boot spoiler works together with the deep Evo chin spoiler, giving the exterior a well balanced appearance from front to back.
Alcon/Brabus brake callipers, a full roll cage and beautifully trimmed Recaro bucket seats adorn the interior. These details help create a car that is both pleasant to use on a daily basis, yet also provide the peace of mind to be able to thrash the Mercedes safely when so desired.
As the man responsible for building and maintaining some of the most driver-focused Porsches in Japan, Yamazaki-san is bound to have the right mindset to create a wonderfully balanced machine of his own. Think about it this way: The pinnacle of RWB events is the Idlers 12 hour race, right? Maybe not for the ones that spend their life tucked away or on Instagram, no. I’m talking about the racers. The ones that scream ‘Rough World’ in a raspy flat-six voice around Motegi, battling supercars.
They’re built to last; to have the balance and reliability to survive 12 hours of intense driving. That’s all thanks to Yamazaki-san. He’s the quiet voice, the thinker, steady and reserved, ensuring that RWB can continue to push the performance envelope.
There are those out there who will cry heresy, claiming this car to be a replica or even a fake. Those who think that Yamazaki-san is striving to recreate a car leagues above his own; one that he wishes he had. Would your opinion change if I told you that Yamazaki also has an original 190E 2.5-16 Evo II?
Well, maybe not entirely original. The Evo II is his dedicated track car, so can you purists even begin to imagine what he’s done to that?
I’ll leave that for another story, because that car is definitely special enough to warrant its own feature. Truth be told, this 190E 2.5-16 has an impressive collection of parts hand-picked from the wide range made available by those mentalist Mercedes tuners of old, but is that really surprising considering its owner?
Nothing overthought, just an excellent selection of OEM+ parts that come together to make a quick, reliable and great-looking road car.