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Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 & 2.5-16 Cosworth: Buying guide and review (1983-1993)

Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth
Few affordable cars from the 1980s boast such a fantastic racing pedigree as the Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth. And we’re not talking about its career in DTM; there’s another race for which this saloon is remembered.
 
Mercedes hosted a support race during the opening ceremony of the 1984 German Grand Prix at the new, safer Nürburgring GP circuit. The grid of F1 drivers included James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Stirling Moss, John Surtees and many more, all racing in identical 190E Cosworths. It was won – spectacularly – by an up-and-coming Brazilian driver called Ayrton Senna, which has gone down as one of his defining career moments. 
 
But why enter this understated saloon in such a race? Weeks before its launch at the 1983 Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes had set distance records with the 190E 2.3-16 at Nardo – for 25,000km, 25,000 miles, and 50,000km. This was a car engineered for motor sport from the outset, even if it didn’t go quite as Mercedes had intended. 
 
Taking Merc’s workaday 2.3-litre eight-valve four as a starting point, Cosworth engineered a new 16-valve cylinder head and manufactured it in the UK. While a career in rallying was the original goal, the rampant Audi Quattro pushed the 190 into Touring Cars instead.

The 190E raced in DTM from 1986 with independent teams, but from 1988 no fewer than five were competing with works backing, representing one of Mercedes-Benz’s first official flirtations with motor racing in more than 30 years.
 

Which Mercedes 190E Cosworth to buy?

 
As the years passed and the competition became fiercer, Mercedes had to make a few changes to keep pace. First was the introduction of the 2.5-16 in 1988, with a significantly developed engine. As a road car, little changed but the capacity increase provided the 2.5 with punchier bottom-end performance, as well as helping to push power output to 204bhp in un-catalysed form – up from the previous 2.3’s 185bhp figure.
 
In an attempt to breathe even more life into the DTM racer, the company released an Evo I and a more extreme Evo II version – homologating aerodynamic, suspension and mechanical improvements. 
 
Although the 190E Cosworth (officially never called that) made a fantastic racer, it was no less capable of regular road car duties. Granted, it might not be as focused as an E30 M3, but that was never the Mercedes way. Engineered and built like nothing else, the 190E was one of the most usable performance cars of its era. Its subtle looks might have left the 190E in the shadows of some rivals, but today it’s still a cracking performance saloon with some motor sport heritage. What more could you ask for? 
 

Performance and specs

 
Engine 2299cc, 16 valve in-line four cylinder 
Power 182bhp @ 6200rpm 
Torque 173lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 144mph 
0-62mph 7.3seconds 
Fuel consumption 28.5mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2665mm
Length 4430mm
Width 1706mm
Height 1361mm
Kerb weight 1230kg
 

Common problems 


• The W201-series 190 was massively over-engineered, so high-mileage examples wear extremely well if looked after.
 
• The 190E is fairly resistant to corrosion; sills and jacking points suffer first but rot may be hidden by the Cosworth’s bodykit. 
 
• Rear-self-levelling suspension can cause problems: if it sits low at the rear then hydraulic fluid may have leaked out. A bouncy ride means the hydraulic spheres need replacing. Standard passive dampers are an acceptable replacement if done correctly.
 
• Engines were designed to withstand track use. Idling issues can be difficult to diagnose, so make sure the unit starts up from cold without issue and restarts easily when warm. A small amount of valvetrain noise is normal, but any excessive tapping or clattering could mean the timing chain needs replacement, or the valve shims need adjusting. 
 
• The five-speed dogleg Getrag transmission was notoriously notchy even when new, but new bushes and linkages can improve a sloppy-feeling shift. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• mercedes-190.co.uk – UK-based 190E owners’ forum
• www.mercedes190oc.com – UK-based 190E owners’ forum
• www.mbclub.co.uk – Mercedes forum
• www.mercedes-benz-club.co.uk – The official Mercedes-Benz club
 

Summary and prices

 
Expect to pay from £10,000 for a car in good condition with decent history, and more than £15k for a low-mileage example. Evolution models are the rarest: just over 500 of each were built to satisfy regulations. Much like the E30 M3, Evo values have always been higher than standard cars’. Evo 1s have been known to fetch up to £50,000. The more extreme Evo 2s sell for £100,000-200,000 depending on condition. 
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth
Last updated: 25th Oct 2016
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Mercedes-Benz 190E cars for sale

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Mercedes-Benz 190E
5995 12500 GBP
  • Mercedes Benz 190E Cosworth

    POA POA

    These Cosworth engine Mercedes are becoming very desirable and to find one in this condition, having been restored in about 2008 is not easy. Full story of the "Cosy" Mercedes & this car featured in Mercedes Enthusiast magazine in February 2014.

    For sale
    The Motor Shed Ltd
  • Mercedes Benz 190E Cosworth

    POA POA

    These Cosworth engine Mercedes are becoming very desirable and to find one in this condition, having been restored in about 2008 is not easy. Full story of the "Cosy" Mercedes & this car featured in Mercedes Enthusiast magazine in February 2014.

    For sale
  • 1988 Mercedes-Benz 190 E

    POA POA

    - Receipt on file for _1,300 spent over the last 12 months on bodywork and suspension - Complete with history file and old MOT's - No advisory MOT until September 2017

    • Year: 1988
    For sale
  • 1990 Mercedes 190E Cosworth | Hollybrook Sports

    £12,500 £12,500

    Here is a unique opportunity to purchase a well cared for usable classic, the Mercedes 190 2.5 Cosworth. This particular example is finished in silver, with the sought after full black leather interior and dog-leg manual gearbox. It was first registered on the 22/02/1990 and supplied new through Mercedes Isaac Agnew Belfast. This car comes complete with a full dealer pack, 4 keys, and a number of invoices and receipts. Its service booklet boasts 21 stamps, 18 which are Mercedes main dealer and a number of independent specialist. Please feel free to give us a call, for an honest overview of this vehicle.

    • Year: 1990
    For sale
  • Mercedes-Benz 190E

    £5,995 £5,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after A first class Mercedes-Benz 190E (W201) Auto with full history and just 34,964 miles. EQUIPMENT All steel self-stabilising body shell, rigid torsion resistant passenger compartment, heat insulating safety glass, flexible bumpers in fibreglass-reinforced plastic, multi-point central locking, halogen headlamps, parking lamps, laminated windscreen, electric sliding sunroof, three heated washer nozzles, panoramic windscreen wiper, reading lamp, independent heating control zones, internally controlled door mirrors, seat belt warning light, first aid kit, warning triangle, toolkit. Factory options: Four speed automatic transmission. Dealer supplied equipment; Mercedes-Benz over-mats. EXTERIOR This exceptional early example of the W201 Series 190E is finished in its factory coating of Moss Green (code 803), a delightfully rare and period colour which along with the condition instantly sets this aside from the usual offerings. The paintwork boasts an almost flawless shine and uniform finish with only a light chip to the offside rear corner worthy of mention. This beautiful car has been meticulously preserved and its low mileage credentials are clear to see. All trim, glass, lights and badges are perfect, and supplying original dealer number plates and rear screen sticker affirm the absolute originality. A truly outstanding example of the superbly engineered and iconic 190E, a byword for exemplary Mercedes-Benz craftsmanship. INTERIOR The ergonomically designed interior of this example is truly remarkable. The highest quality materials and first class workmanship can be felt in every feature from the positively contoured seats trimmed in original mid brown, (code 054), to the precision made and fully functional switchgear. A tiny five pence piece sized area of the driver’s bolster has rubbed slightly thin in comparison to the otherwise flawless upholstery. All carpeting has been protected with Mercedes-Benz over mats from new and the headlining is tight and spotless. The boot area is perfect with the tool roll, spare wheel and warning triangle correctly stored, in addition to the boot floor carpet which has factory tags still intact! The original first aid kit is stored in the rear parcel shelf compartment and there are service stickers still affixed to the driver’s door shut. An impeccable and well preserved cabin space, the epithet of classic motoring comfort. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The legendary four cylinder cross-flow Mercedes-Benz engine with electronic/mechanical fuel injection is renowned for uncompromising refinement and reliability. Displacing 1997cc, a top speed of 121mph and 0-60 mph time of 9.8 seconds is quietly and comfortably achieved. The clean engine bay displays factory applied wax as well as all original plates, stickers and chassis stampings, and even the yellow PDI dots on the strut top bolts! The optional four speed automatic transmission is effortless and delivers a beautifully smooth and relaxed driving manner. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Factory standard 15” steel wheels remain fitted with the original full width hub caps which are in perfect order. The spare steel wheel has some surface corrosion. Quality branded tyres of size 175/70/R14 have good tread remaining and dual-circuit power assisted brakes with discs all round bring the car up to a straight and steady halt. HISTORY FILE Registered new on 11th October 1984 by Mercedes-Benz Main Dealers Woking Motors of Walton on Thames, this early example having covered just 34,964 under enthusiast ownership is a very special car indeed. The fantastic history file befits the cars condition and credentials with all original handbooks, supplements, radio guides and dealership literature contained in the supplying dealer branded leather wallet. Even the inevitably misplaced small plastic Mercedes-Benz emergency card remains in the rear pouch! The service booklet contains 18 stamped entries from main dealers and Mercedes-Benz specialists to fully track the vehicles history, mileage and fastidious upkeep from new to present day. Furthermore, a large collection of receipts and supporting invoices are held within the history folder. Completing the history section is an original sales brochure and two keys, one of which being the master key in the original Mercedes leather pouch. Without question one of the most highly preserved surviving examples and certainly worthy of the attention from any serious collector. HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/B_JP4Vxm4xA To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://www.flickr.com/gp/kgfclassiccars/w94G18 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Mileage: 34964 mi
    For sale
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