Auto Roman’s 190 Conversion: Does Authenticity Matter?

Cars are meant to be driven. Period. A pretty obvious statement you would think, but a lot comes into play when the car in question isn’t your run-of-the-mill model.

From garage queens to valuable collectables, it’s understandable that you may not end up using your classic performance car for a trip to the shops, a long drive, or even a short one in bad weather. Because you never know what might happen. I get it. Certain cars are very special, but at the same time that satisfaction you get from driving them is, in part, what feeds our passion. So what do you do?

Well, how about replicas? The term can be used loosely, but for the sake of this short spotlight post, what I’m trying to get at is cars that are made to look like the performance version of themselves.


In particular the W201 Mercedes-Benz 190 E you see here. This is a base 190 built by Auto Roman, which uses their original conversion and wide-body kit to give the 30-plus-year-old German sedan the unmistakable look of a 2.5-16 Evolution II model.


Sitting alongside the Ferrari 308 Group 4 rally car and an authentic and original Ford GT40 race car I showed you in my main event coverage from Nostalgic 2 Days, this replica didn’t look out of place for a single second.

Auto Roman is a new outfit from M’s Vantec, one of the biggest and most diverse private automotive collections in Japan. The owner, Takeshi Moroi, whose cars you may have seen countless times on Speedhunters over the years – the most impressive being his street-driven 962 – has decided to step his game up. It’s a fascinating story that has spawned from pure and utter passion, and one I will go into detail about once I have the chance to visit his new shop.

But for the time being, let’s take a look at Moroi-san’s 190 aero conversion, which, as he puts it, allows people to enjoy the feel of a modern classic without putting a valuable collectable at risk. The conversion is very accurate, right down to the front lip spoiler held in place with a couple of metal bars for support. The carbon hood is an option.


Looking at the Mercedes, I really couldn’t fault this approach in any way. I mean, with this replica we’re not talking about taking a Pontiac Fiero and converting it into a Ferrari F40 look-a-like. No, it’s more the RWB method of taking a base car and pumping it up to make it look like something more special.

An approach like this would open the door for a bit of fun; think engine swaps, playing with stance, and just letting your imagination run wild.


I don’t see anything wrong with this, as Auto Roman market it as their own product and conversion; it has nothing to do with anything OEM. But the biggest question is, what you guys think of it – is it blasphemy or just a bit of fun? Let’s chat about it in the comments.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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The real thing is one of my dream cars. Unfortunately, due to the rarity, I will never own one. So something like this is the next best thing. I'm all for it!


as an australian, replicas are common place, *cough xy falcon *cough, so totally embrace the cloning culture, and hold no mallace for it not being authentic


And what do you guys clone there down under? Speaking about Falcon XY, it is GTO Phase III maybe?




That was my exact thought! So many rep GT's around that this Merc kit is hardly a bad thing!


I dont have any problems with replicas, take for example the W201. In Malaysia there may be only a handful of them and the prices aren't exactly 'reasonable' or affordable. There is nothing wrong if someone build his own from a plain jane 190E, Its HIS car after all and he gets to enjoy it. Not some stuck up purists who chastise with the first chance they get. Buuuuut thats just my opinion :) Everyone stay safe !


I'm all for this.


I would buy a MB 190 just to rock this kit! A 190, this body kit and an engine swap........YES!


its a bit different from a Lancer with an Evo body kit; unless u go full 4wd and the works.

In this case, its still 2wd and i think its okay as long as u shoehorn in a full MB powertrain; l mean, so what if is not an authentic Evo2. Lets get real here; the original M102 block X Cosworth head isn't really anything to shout about these days....

I am actually more worried about the quality and the fit and finish of this kit...


A certain gentleman in Thailand makes pretty decent kits for both EVOs.


Who makes these kits? In my country W201s are dirt cheap. EVO2 + M113 + manual = a lot of fun and style!




Great work/pics @dino, but wouldn't now be a great time to catch up on all your "Project" car content :-)


This is a good thing in my eyes. As long as the owners don't pretend they have an original rare car in their garage. But to convert your car like this and not being afraid to trash it? I'm all for it.


At the German 190e / W201 meets you see Original 190e evo 2 and Replikas and sometimes you can't tell the difference.


I have always thought it strange that people feel so strongly about this… Is it not everyone's right to do as they please with their own property? Sure, if someone decides to cut up true rarity it could perhaps be argued that such a vehicle to some extant belongs to everyone as a piece of cultural heritage but a regular Merc 190 – I think not…


People who get there knickers in a twist about this are them same kids at school that said your trainers are shit if they dont have a tick on them.


Whats about engine? Without changes? Made this on base diesel version it will be desecration.


Authenticity is overrated.

Besides, if something exists, it's real.


Freakin' AYE!!


Something I read once in an issue of Car Craft said it best:

"Let the non-enthusiast lawyers and doctors worry about authenticity at the auctions in 20 years. Go out and have fun with your car today."


This is totally cool. The BMW community is almost built on it; we recreate or partly recreate //M-cars (without the badging, of course). The same can be said for the musclecar community, remaking classic musclecars out of rusty base-models. And when it comes right down to it, the real blue-chip versions of our cars probably aren't nearly as much fun as the ones we build in their images. I'm glad the M-B builders are starting to have the same kind of fun.


Now this is a 190 done right


Replicas are the only way for us commoners to be able to drive car's that are hard to find, nobody makes anymore or drive in a certain era that has the looks and performance a person likes.

Replicas = Good! Especially if they are done very well or even "mass produced"

Duke Skyhopper

The “bolt-on” aesthetics of a replica are reasonable modifications. Attempting to pass it off as the real thing with emblems, graphic packages, identification plates, etc is just dirty.

Have some imagination and bring something new to the table...OR just be honest.
Using that type of discretion speaks volumes about one’s character...Unfortunately, so does shameless fakery.

Steffen Hansen

*wanders off looking for an old 190*


Why not have your own design? Can be similar to the original, maybe a more modern twist etc. More respect for having a "inspired by" design than a straight copy.


Building your dream car, to your spec at a fraction of the cost without any of the pitfalls of becoming precious of a rarity? Why not?!



Been checking out S.H. for over a year. I worked in IT for 17 years and my mom was a school teacher over 30 years. Nothing gets by me! Trust me on that. The story about the doctor in S. Africa with the APR Golf was removed. What gives? Is S. Africa censoring stuff or is he wanted by Interpol? Really weird you guys had the story posted and then deleted it. If you can't say I'll understand.

Miguel - Newera

We have the real thing, an AMG Evo 1 Powerpack version, no less.

Miguel - Newera

...and it's for sale on our website, but I don't think I'm allowed to mention it here..


There's nothing actually sacred with cars. It's only a money game, so why not go for the look you want? Why not replicate the looks and do your own things with the car?
Looks great!


For decades people have been taking 6 cylinder novas and turning them into Yenko look-alikes, Tempests into GTOs or fastback Mustangs into Shelbys. Its the only way a normal person can get close to having one and being able to drive it, or further modify and make it even more individualized. Let the Barrett Jackson buyers throw thousands or millions away and then lock the cars in their vaults for decades and never drive them or other people see them. Cars that are virtually the same base thing but with select options and limited VIN runs and in some cases, inferior in terms of performance and looks to a well modified car, like the SEMA 190E shown on YouTube.


And if this saves another 190 from dying in a junkyard or crusher, so much the better.


Another dream car I'll never find in the states in decent condition.


The wheels are awesome - does anyone know what these wheels are? I can’t see them on the oz racing site?


Honestly, I'm all for these conversions. The real 190E Evo 2 is one of my absolute dream cars, but owning one is unrealistic for me. As long as a replica isn't getting passed off as the real thing, and it has all the essential elements of what it's trying to imitate, I say it's golden. What I mean by elements is powertrain, awd or rwd, etc. So a base lancer with an evo bodykit wouldn't fly because base lancers are fwd, not awd.