By the end of seventies it became pretty clear that the basic formula car of those times in USSR, Estonia 19, which hit the tracks in 1975, was not quite up to date. The E-19 driven by the TARK (Tallinna Autoremondi Katsetehas) works driver Enn Griffel won the USSR Championship in Formula 3 in its first year of competition, standing mostly against previous generations of Estonia cars - models 16M and 18. However, in the Cup of Peace and Friendship, where the car could be compared to contemporary designs from other socialistic countries, it was not successful. Let alone a couple of episodes, national team members used mostly Estonia 18M cars, which were still produced, or, sometimes, heavily redesigned versions of the 18M (BPS-Estonia of Vladislav Barkovskiy or Tallept-Estonia of Toomas Napa were often quicker than factory cars).
Apparently those redesigned versions gave a stimulus to TARK to start designing a new car: it was a rare case that factory-spec Estonia 19’s without any changes raced in the first part of the field (the same could be said about the 18M, though). Often the purpose of such changes was to gain some additional downforce: in late seventies racing car aerodynamics followed much different path than it did some years before. Wings were no more an interesting design solution, but have become necessary, and Estonia 19, which was neither good in terms of downforce nor eye-pleasing, became subject to technical and artistic surveys. Drivers started to play with aerodynamics: many E-19 chassis featured various wings, winglets, flaps, narrow, wide, low and high nosecones, engine covers, new body panels. A number of cars was modified to accept ground effect. Many attempts were made to find an additional downforce and to put in order the airflow around the body.
In 1977 Raul Sarap, TARK employee and the national team member, came up with his own vision of the E-19. His Estonia 19M was notably shorter than production car and used lightweight materials in the chassis. A more streamlined body with a low and narrow nose raised some associations with mid-1970s Formula 1 cars, such as McLaren M23, Tyrrell 007 or Shadow DN3, although it was a little smaller. The car has shown a good potential right away with Sarap winning the first race of the season in Formula Easter, but the success could only be repeated in the last, sixth, race: sadly, the rest of the championship rounds saw the car retiring. But later on the Estonian driver could show some good results again: in 1978 Raul Sarap has become a USSR Champion on a revised Estonia 19M with a rear wing and a wide nose, and was a runner-up in 1979 behind Alexander Medvedchenko from Kiev, who also drove a seriously modified Estonia 19.