Feature Listing: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

Creating the W201 series was a monumental undertaking for Daimler-Benz. Design and prototyping ran through the early days of the 1980s as the company spent 2,000,000,000 DM in development costs for the small chassis to compete against the 3-series. This amount included construction of a new factory in Bremen to help produce the W201. Bruno Sacco, head of Mercedes-Benz styling in the late 1970s and early 1980s, created a compact rendering of the S-class formula which worked well. The chassis brought new refinement to the small executive market, with multi-link independent rear suspension and anti-dive front suspension, along with increased levels of sound deadening and lower wind noise from the aerodynamic design.

Mercedes-Benz wasted little time demonstrating that the new “Baby Benz” was, indeed, worthy of the three-pointed star. The culture within the engineering department was still very much funded with an open checkbook, so no stone was left unturned to created a sedan of unparalleled quality and without compromise. To prove this point, shortly after its introduction Daimler-Benz took three of the newly launched, high-performance 190E 2.3-16 variant to the Nardo test track in Italy. At a time when not many family sedans were able to exceed much more than 110 mph, the diminutive Benz topped 150. But it wasn’t just for a moment; over ten days, the W201s lapped Nardo at a fevered pace, conquering world records in distance over time. First fell the 25,000 km World Record time, then the 25,000 mile one. Ultimately, along with a slew of class records, the 190E 2.3-16s averaged 154 mph for 31,000 miles – yet still returned over 10 mpg.

That achievement signaled the launch of a new level of small sedan performance which soon would be met with improved models from BMW and other marques. And while those subsequent models would go on to be more famous on the race track, the 190E made its mark nonetheless.…

1985 Mercedes-Benz 280E

The W123 is a classic car you can use on a daily basis. Produced between 1976 and 1985, these mid-sized executive sedans set industry leading standards for safety, passenger comfort and reliability during that time. In fact, the W123 was so rugged that Mercedes took it rallying, scoring a surprise win in the notoriously grueling, 30,000 mile, transcontinental London-Sydney Marathon. The W123’s iconic silhouette remains a common sight on today’s roads – no wonder, since they last forever – and when you see one, there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a classic Mercedes. From 1981 onwards you could only buy the W123 as a diesel in America. These cars would get you where you wanted to go, but not very quickly. Which makes this final year, European import gasoline powered car a tempting option.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 280E on eBay

Double Take: Mercedes-Benz 300SE

I planned to leave the W126 300SE alone for a while since I’ve posted quite a number of these over the last few months. But I couldn’t resist when I noticed not one, but two really nice examples pop up on eBay this week. While these short wheelbase, six cylinder cars are often overlooked in favor of the 420 and 560 SEL, they offer all the class and sophistication of the larger models with somewhat lower running costs, making the 300 a nice entry point for W126 ownership. They certainly don’t have the power of the V8. But on the plus side, the M103 motor is famously stout and will run forever without needing too much work. The only real weak spot is the headgasket, which tends to need replacing every 150k miles or so. I’ve test-driven a few of these recently myself, and I was pleasantly surprised by the driving experience. The 3.0 liter engine provided more shove on the backroads than I was expecting, certainly enough to get the car moving, even if it won’t win any drag races. And out on the highway it cruised effortlessly, which is what these cars are all about.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

Double Take: Mercedes-Benz 300CE – One cheap, one not so much

To some, the W124 might look like just another Stuttgart taxicab. But to those in the know, the 80s/90s era E-class stands for all those traits that once made Mercedes-Benzes the best cars in the world: over-engineered, incredibly safe (for the time) and remarkably durable, capable of cracking over half a million miles if properly cared for. While I’ve written up a number of sedans in the past, I haven’t posted many coupes. That’s a regrettable omission; the coupe offers all of the aforementioned characteristics only repackaged into a stylish, pillarless two-door body shape. The 300CE, produced between 1987 and 1995, was built on a slightly shortened version of the sedan chassis. Initially powered by the SOHC 12v, 3.0 liter version of the M103 engine – good for about 180 hp – cars sold from 1990 onwards came with the DOHC 24v M104 motor instead, pushing output to around 217 hp.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE on Ft. Myers, FL Craigslist

1985 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

The other day, Carter wrote up a gray-market, Signal Red 280SE. The Euro options and unusual color made for an attractive proposition, but that particular car had some mechanical needs making it a light project. This car, on the other hand, appears to be in need of no such work. Available in Europe but not sold in the US, the 280SE paired the 2.8 liter, six cylinder M110 gasoline engine with the short wheelbase version of the W126 chassis. While that might seem a small motor for such a large car, it made about 185 hp in Euro guise, a perfectly adequate, though certainly not blistering, amount of power. Like the US-spec 300SE/SEL, it might need a bit of shove at the low end, but once up to highway speeds it should cruise around capably.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on eBay

1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

1There used to be an R107 parked near where I live. It was green, in mint condition and it sparkled in the sun like it was new. I once saw the driver, a smartly dressed young woman in her mid twenties. An unusual car for a young person to own, I thought, especially in buttoned-up DC. Did she have impeccable taste in cars? A love for classic Benzes? Rich parents who’d gifted her their old roadster? All of the above? It’s no longer there, so I cannot ask her. But I do notice these cars more and more these days, as I realize the R107 might well be the definitive classic Mercedes. Timelessly styled, precision engineered and still exuding that ineffable sense of old money, they will soon be collectible, if they are not already. A friend from graduate school recently bought one. When I see the pictures of him on Facebook sitting in it, I can’t help but admire it. And feel a hint of jealousy.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL on eBay

1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16

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We are no strangers to the W201 around here. We feature them frequently, and for good reason. The 190 offered up everything ranging from a frugal diesel to a six-figure DTM super car with a myriad of other engine choices in between.  Today’s featured car for sale in the Pacific Northwest falls right in the middle of the range in terms of price and practicality. A Japanese import 2.5-16, it’s a little out of the norm compared to a 2.3-16 that North Americans are used to seeing.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 on eBay

1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC

If you “ran for the hills” screaming “My eyes! My eyes!” after yesterday’s 500SEC Convertible, I wouldn’t blame you. It was a shame what was done to an otherwise classic car, and outside of the AMG body kit and Euro bits it didn’t really look worth salvaging; certainly, not at a quarter million miles for $25,000. In an attempt to redeem the dignity of the stately Mercedes-Benz brand, then, here’s a much better alternative; a completely stock 1986 560SEC in a rare color combination – Smoke Silver with Henna interior:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay