1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

The 190E is right up there on my list of cars to someday own (again). Which puts the Cosworth-tuned 2.3-16 Valve on the list of cars to own in the next five years, before values appreciate and over-zealous buyers create a wicked bubble. It’s inevitable for a car like this to fly under the radar for so long, with its immediate competitor the E30 M3 racking up incredible sale after incredible sale. This 1986 model has miles on the high side, but with features like A/C and the self-leveling suspension still functional, it has obviously aged gracefully. Given the Virginia location with the California license plates, it seems safe to say this 16-Valve has enjoyed warm climates – an added bonus for those of us living in the great northeastern rust belt. Two of my favorite mods – the larger 16×8 inch wheels and euro lighting – have already been addressed, making this car extra appealing to yours truly.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Valve on Norfolk’s Craigslist


Year: 1986
Model: 190E 2.3-16
Engine: 2.3 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 183,111 mi
Price: $7,500 OBO

If you are looking to buy a BMW E30 M3 and have discovered that they are selling for $25,000 or more, maybe you might be interested in the car that pushed BMW into creating that car and was its main competitor. I’m talking about the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth.

There were less than 2,000 sold here in 1986 and 1987. This chassis is stiff and impressively sorted as this was originally designed to be a rally car before the rules were changed allowing the Audi quattro. The 16-valve cylinder head and equal length tuned headers were both designed and built by Cosworth.

I am selling my rare Pearl Black 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth for $7,500 or best offer. The car has 183,000 miles and comes with a 5-speed Getrag close ratio transmission (dogleg first) with a 3.27:1 LSD rear-end. This car is amazing to drive, smooth power delivery and loads of torque. It feels like an inline 6, but you get the lightweight and fuel economy of a 4-cylinder. On the highway, it is amazingly smooth and quiet, unlike the somewhat buzzy BMW E30 M3.

I have installed a few rare Euro spec items to include: A set of 16×8 Mercedes wheels with 225/45/16 tires from a European 190E 2.3-16 Evo I. (Stock 15×7 2.3-16 wheels available) and a set of period correct Bosch European E Code one-piece glass headlights with rare Hella amber turn signals. (Stock headlights available)

The car drives great but is a 25 year old car so it’s not perfect. It has working rear Self Leveling Suspension (SLS) and cold A/C. The body is very straight with a newer re-paint in the factory color. Inside the interior is in good shape with the exception of some seat seams that need to be re-threaded. The Recaro sport seats are powered with 2 memory settings.

I would love to keep this car but I’ve recently purchased an AMG and I don’t have the space for both cars so I am selling this for $8,500. This car has had no accidents and I have a clean VA title in my name ready to sign over to the new owner.


The seller mentions a few prices, but we’re sticking with the lower of the two – $7,500 or best offer. That’s a screaming deal for one of these that isn’t a basketcase, but we know little of its mechanical history based on this ad. It may not have the buzzy nature of the E30 M3 (seller’s words, not mine), but most M3 listings are deep on the details knowing the type of audience that follows these cars. Condition is one thing, but knowing what’s been done preventatively to keep the SLS functioning and the A/C blowing cold would be needed before committing to a serious offer to buy.


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3 Comments on "1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16"

  1. Ry says:

    I’ve liked these since back in the day…but it’s a weird ad writing strategy to spend maybe two dozen words talking about the car you’re specifically selling, and introduce it by comparing it to the e30 M3, and close it out with a copy & pasted novella about the events that started “in early morning August 13, 1983 at the Nardo test track.” There’s a 90% chance the next buyer knows what it is, and providing copious amounts of info irrelevant to the sale is oftentimes a tell. Not saying it is here, I have no idea…but the ad could use more pics, less “on a foggy August 1983 morning,” and instead some service & history of the last 180k, besides just the headlights and shift knob.

  2. MDriver says:

    @Ry..spot on!….anyone looking at this KNOWS IT…give me relevant service history/records…at least since your ownership BUT as you go out of your way to mention that you bought it from an MB mechanic who still has two….you should have access to ALL records starting from him.
    this car is priced in line with the before mentioned E34 M5….which has slightly less miles….
    guess which one I’d own????….and I love the 2.3-16 190….but for the same or even maybe less money…I get a Bahn-burner that will outperform this Merc

  3. Don says:

    Hey guys, I am the owner of this Cosworth. I appreciate the critique and I have updated the ad with some maintenance history. I have also added more pictures although they are taken by my cell phone so the quality is not the best. I will take some better pictures when I get time and will post them to the ad. The asking price is $8,500 or best offer. Here is a link to the updated ad: http://norfolk.craigslist.org/cto/4285784322.html