1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

The more I stare at the 2.3-16, the more I realize just how right Mercedes-Benz got it with the design of this car. The starting point was already a good one. The stock 190E, with its restrained, angular good looks and taut lines, brought Mercedes’s design language out of the 70s and firmly into the 80s. But the flared wheel arches, revised valences and rear deck spoiler found on the 2.3-16 turn the staid W201 into a car that looks ready to go racing. Which it did, first as a rally car and, when that didn’t work out, at the DTM. Power came from a version of the M102 2.3 liter four pot engine – later enlarged to 2.5 liters in the European market – breathed on by British tuning company Cosworth. But despite the looks and pedigree, the 2.3-16 has never attracted the same kind of attention or following as its obvious competitor, the E30 M3. The market for these is pretty spotty. They don’t appear very frequently and when they do, many of them have been battered and broken by neglectful owners. Still, every now and again a really nice one pops up.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay

1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

The 2.3-16 is more than just a W201 in a fancy bodykit. Developed by Mercedes-Benz to go rallying, it was redeployed in the DTM instead when it became clear that it stood no chance against the Audi Quattro. Powered by a willing four cylinder, 16v motor with a head provided by British racing firm Cosworth, it has nonetheless struggled to move out from underneath the shadow of the E30 M3. While the M3 has now attained legendary status amongst enthusiasts, with eye-watering prices to match, the 190E has rather languished. True, it’s not quite as fun or as fast as the M3 (especially in US specification). It’s not that fast at all, in fact: many modern day, entry level cars will pull away from it quite easily. Still, these 190E Cosworths are great  because they retain all of the admirable qualities of the W201 (a confidence inspiring, over-engineered chassis, indestructible build quality) while dialing up the fun.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on Atlanta, GA Craigslist

1986 Mercdes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

The 190E 2.3-16, Mercedes’ competitor to the E30 M3, remains relatively under appreciated, with values struggling to climb higher than the mid teens for a nice example. (If you can find one. Many come to market in a sad state.) The upshot is that those looking for an 80s DTM-inspired hot rod can pick one up relatively cheaply. They’re not all that fast by today’s standards –  a humdrum Honda with a V6 would probably undoubtedly beat it in a straight line –  and the high strung four cylinder motor can be a bit finicky. But the combination of 80s Mercedes build quality, a cool aero kit, a chassis that inspires confidence and a dogleg 5 speed manual gearbox (first is down and to the left, leaving second and third directly in line) makes for a unique and enticing package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay

1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

1Built in conjunction with British engineers Cosworth to rally before the Audi Quattro debuted (and siphoned instead into the DTM when Mercedes realized it stood no chance), the 190E 2.3-16 marries the handsome lines and tank-like build quality of the W201 chassis with a race-tuned four pot engine and a muscular and aerodynamically purposeful bodykit. We’ve featured a number of 16 valvers on the site lately and I’m beginning to wonder if there has (finally) been an uptick in the market for these cars. It does seem as though there are more nice examples out there for sale with every passing year, in contrast to the raft of rotted out and abused ones that used to dot Craigslist not too long ago.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on Hemmings.com

1985 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Euro-Spec

1I’ve posted several 190Es since joining GCFSB, making no secret of my love for the W201. But I haven’t yet written up a 2.3-16, the high-performance version developed in conjunction with Cosworth to go racing at the DTM. It’s not because I don’t like them. Far from it; I lusted after one of these when I was in the market for a W201 a few years ago. But the 16v models in my price range were all wrecks and so I settled for a stock 2.6 instead. (I did, however, get my hands on a full 16v body kit but, as some of you will know, I crashed my car before I had the chance to install it). The reason is rather that many of these come to market in poor shape, and it takes a special car to pique my interest. This one has it’s faults but, being a European market gray import, it also has a few redeeming features.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay

Manual mates: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 vs. 1993 190E 2.6 Sportline

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The time has once again come that you can not purchase a new Mercedes-Benz in the United States with a manual gearbox. The SLK250 was the last to be equipped as such. Even on a stroll around Frankfurt, Germany last week, I spotted few new Mercedes-Benzes with a proper gearshift on the console. As time passes on, they are only going to become more rare. So we might as well look back to more vintage models to satisfy our dynamic driving needs. We’ll take a look at two very different 190E models today, both equipped with 5-speed manual gearboxes. We’ll start first with this European spec 1985 190E 2.3-16 for sale in Florida.

Click for details: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 at Champion Motors

1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

Technically, this post could be filed under “Motorsports Monday.” The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 was the contemporary of the E30 M3 we saw in Carter’s post earlier today, a darling of the DTM, or German Production Cars Championship, started in 1984. Originally intended for rallying purposes, the Cosworth tuned W201 190E was deemed a bit uncompetitive for such an event by the boffins at Mercedes, so they went to the track with it, instead. As a result, a homologated version was released to the public shortly thereafter. While this particular 190E 2.3-16 for sale in Philadelphia has low miles, it has a number of issues that need to be addressed. Still, the rarity of these special W201s make this a car worth saving.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on Craigslist Philadelphia

1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

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It was only a matter of time for 2.3-16 prices to follow E30 M3 values. To a lesser extent of course with the dominance of the M3 in almost every aspect; most importantly overall victories on the track. Nonetheless, the 2.3-16 homologation specials are still just that: special. Especially in this condition. In this case a picture (or dozens) really are worth a thousand words. This example is very cleanly preserved and prepared. Bidders are ready to buy with the current reserve met at $22k and climbing, with a very active 125+ bids thus far. If the auction proceeds to completion, we’ll witness a great bidding war considering the show doesn’t end until tomorrow night. Good luck to buyers and seller!

dc

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay

1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

Here it is folks, your chance to put your money where your mouth is and drive the underdog of the 1980s. The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 is the sleepiest of modern classic sleepers. While E30 BMW M3s are a dime a dozen for those that can afford them, the 190E 2.3-16 remains a rare sight. That means subdued W201 styling all the way round. To say that this car is capable of flying under the radar is a massive understatement. It was only available in Pearl Black or Smoke silver, the latter being the more attention grabbing of the two. Overall this looks like an enticing package, the question is, what will it cost you to enjoy it? Hagerty puts the value of a tier two car at $20,700 and a tier three car at $13,400. That’s a whole lot of ground to cover in between, and in that range is where I would expect the reserve of this car to fall. With two days left on the auction bidding currently sits at $7,200 which doesn’t even meet tier 4 market value, so barring a last minute flury bidding or removal of the reserve, I think we’ll be seeing this one back on the block soon.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay

1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 is still one of the best bargains for eighties speed hunters. Sure, it’s well known this isn’t the fastest sports sedan of the era, but with Cosworth tuning, a tasteful bodykit and that dog-leg 5-speed manual gearbox, it’s the stuff of dreams for enthusiasts. It also has a colorful touring car race history in its portfolio. As such, many of these 190E 2.3-16s were run hard and put up wet. Every now and then, we’ll come across a really well preserved example, such as this example for sale in Florida. With just over 50k miles, this one is a minter.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 on eBay