The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 is still in that area of the market where “project” examples can be found for reasonable money, but a really nice one with low miles can easily reach two to three times those of lesser examples. A $30,000 example? Probably very close to a complete turn-key car without any issues at all. A $10,000 example? Start ordering parts. What lies in between is where you can either score or strike out majorly. Today’s examples up for sale in New Jersey has potential, but I have some questions.
Oh boy. Everyone loves a good project, right?
This poor 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 needs some help. Well, a lot help. Looking at the photos, I don’t know if it is worth saving. To make it short, the paint is totally gone, the suspension is sagging, there is rust in the trunk, and the interior is one step short of fire damage. But hey, at least it runs. Right? (Checks notes to see if it does actually run)
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Project on eBay
As cool as the Mercedes-Benz 190E 16v is, the colors Mercedes offered for US market cars were not extensive. You had two choices, Blue-Black Metallic or Smoke Silver. Blue-Black is just a plain black, and Smoke Silver is dangerously close to tan or beige. The situation is not ideal for those of us who like colors. In Europe? There was another color, Almandine Red Metallic. It’s a beautiful shade of dark red or burgundy that isn’t so red like “Rosso” from Ferraris, but a subdued shade. Today, I came across a 1989 16v-2.5 that looks great, but one big problem. The steering wheel is on the wrong side. That surely throws a spanner in the works.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16v at UK Sports Cars
I always felt the Mercedes-Benz W201 190E didn’t and still doesn’t get the respect or fanfare they deserve. Outside of the 16v models, there aren’t hoards of people out there clamoring for them like we have now with the E30 BMW. I know this is a little bit of tough comparison, as the E30 was offered in both coupe and manual transmission form, but the 190E is still a relatively nice car for what it is. It certainly isn’t ugly, and the fit and finish was above average compared to the majority of cars from this era. Still, these cars were used and abused for going on three decades now so finding a non-16v model in exception shape isn’t an easy task. However, this 1991 190E 2.0 up for sale the UK seems to have survived all these abuse a cheap Mercedes usually is subject to.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay
There isn’t a whole lot more to be said about the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16v. We’ve featured them here from time to time and the general consensus is that is a real winner in terms of actual driving experience vs. the price you pay. The prices have sure shot up over the past decade on them, but there aren’t a lot of cars from this era that are worth a damn that didn’t. I think every one realized that the these cars are from an era that is never coming back and thus, making them collectible. I’m sure everyone regrets not buying one of these went they were $7,500 thinking they’d stay around this price for a while and they’d get one when they made a little more money or when the kids were grown, but at least it isn’t like the Porsche 964 where an average car with over 100,000 miles is now $50,000.
Today’s car, a 1986 up for sale in California, is an interesting example. Is isn’t a garage queen, having just over 100,000 miles, but looking at the condition, you’d swear it had around half that. Naturally, you’d expect a giant price tag trying to catch lightning in a bottle from someone who falls in love with it on a whim, but believe it or not, it really isn’t all that bad compared to the current market for them.