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

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Motorsports Monday: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

While the regular 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth had originally been intended to be a rally car, by the time the company got to producing the “Evolution” models they were fully embroiled in the DTM war of the late 1980s. Massive wings mounted trunklids, fenders flared, and engines roared to new heights of power. While most probably associate the E30 M3 as being the pinnacle of this period, the wildest road-going warrior was the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Mercedes-Benz made 502 of these cars, replete with AMG-tuned motors and enough wings and flares to make an M3 jealous. It should be no surprise that these cars hold a special place in enthusiast’s hearts and they’ve led the market in value because of their very limited nature:

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

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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

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

You know that feeling you get when you stumble across a car that resembles one you used to own, and now sorely miss? That pang, deep down in your stomach, of gut-wrenching remorse that you let it go, mixed with familiarity and excitement (“hello, old friend”), and the irrational urge to buy another car just like your old one, even though you probably shouldn’t (because: reasons)? I got that feeling when I saw this listing for a 190E. Outwardly it looks almost identical to my old baby benz, whose life ended ignominiously and prematurely in a ditch to the side of the I-95 on a cold, icy day in February. I still think about that car. This is my “one that got away.” If I hadn’t crashed it I would have kept it forever, because the W201 is the best kept secret in the world of cheap daily drivers that still, after all this time, feel expensive and luxurious. (A side note: after the insurance adjuster told me he was going to total it, a mechanic who was observing the scene, and who must have noticed the sadness on my face – as well as a lucrative opportunity - pulled me to one side to say he could probably rebuild it for less than the cost the adjuster had estimated, if I wanted. But because I was exhausted, broke and feeling upset and confused, talking to an unfamiliar mechanic who I was not sure I could trust, I said no. I should have said yes.)

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

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We’ve featured the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II a few times in the past couple months. Today we have another one that takes an already pretty bonkers car and turns the dial up a few more notches. This Evo II in California is another one of the 502 made that found it’s way stateside and of course, carries a mid-six figure price tag. But like I hinted at, this one has a few extras that turns the car into a pseudo DTM car for the streets. So let’s check this rare W201 with a little extra something out.

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

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E AMG 6.0

1This car is the very definition of a hot mess, so much so that I almost passed it by. But a V8 powered Baby Benz is such an outrageously fun proposition that I couldn’t resist writing it up anyway. In the 1980s, AMG was still an independent tuner that offered bodykit, engine and suspension upgrades for Mercedes cars. These are known to enthusiasts as the “pre-merger” years; AMG would later be folded into Daimler-Benz in about 1990. While we’re fairly familiar with W124 and W126 AMGs from this period (especially the W124 Hammer, which you can see Chris Harris hooning here), occasionally a 190E will pop up to remind us that the geniuses at Affalterbach also worked their magic on the W201 chassis. At first glance this candy red 190E appears to be an AMG-modded car, but a look beneath the surface reveals that it’s actually a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 6.0 V8 on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16

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Last Saturday, I went to the local Cars & Coffee with fellow GCFSBer Craig. While there, we met a gentlemen who showed up in a Smoke Silver 190E 2.3-16. Being the Mercedes enthusiasts we are, we had a lengthy conversation about Mercedes we’ve owned and the car amongst us. But revisiting this vehicle in the flesh made me realize what a departure it was from Mercedes of the era. When this Cosworth engined W201 appeared, we were all getting used to the idea of a smaller Mercedes at the time, but were just emerging from the era of the W123 but were still in an age when you could pop on down to your local Mercedes forecourt and buy an R107 SL, a classic design that had been with us for over a decade at that point. So here comes a tuned version of the baby Benz along, designed originally for homologation purposes the rally circuit but wound up competing in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) instead.

These cars competed viciously against the BMW E30 M3 on the track and while the Mercedes wasn’t an outright speed demon in a straight line, they had respectable balance and poise that led them to be a success both on and off the track. These days, they are a downright bargain as compared to what we see E30 M3s pulling in the marketplace. This 190E 2.5-16 for sale by Gruppe H in the Czech Republic is a variant that we did not see in the US market. This engined offered a slight horsepower bump and double-row timing chains to fix issues surrounding the single chains on the 190E 2.3-16 model.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Feature Listing: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 at Gruppe H

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1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 Sportline

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Good examples of the Mercedes-Benz 190E are getting harder to come by. This was Mercedes first foray into the compact luxury segment but are revered today as having the old school build quality that long term fans of the marque know and love. Even more uncommon are late model 190Es decked out with the Sportline option, which came with a sportier suspension and upgraded interior. This 190E 2.6 for sale in Pittsburgh has 77,000 miles on the clock and in addition to having the rare Sportline option, has the even more rare 5-speed manual gearbox hooked up to the silky smooth M103 2.6 liter inline-6.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 Sportline on Craigslist Pittsburgh

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1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

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It’s no secret that several of us here at GCFSB are fans of the W201. The last time I wrote one up, I mentioned my habit of scouring the internet for nice examples, a form of self-torment since losing my own car to an accident earlier this year. While the 2.3-16v Cosworths have some serious 80s DTM street-cred, most of the ones for sale are tired and in need of a lot of work. The Sportline models, a limited run of mostly stock W201s upgraded with stiffer suspension, tighter steering, lower ride height and some interior trim tweaks, are a tempting alternative. But sellers often demand large premiums for these cars on the basis of their relative scarcity. To tell you the truth, I don’t think they are worth the extra money. I test-drove one prior to buying my own 190, and I thought the harsher ride was ill-suited to the car. Since the engine and gearbox are unchanged from the ordinary models, the sporting pretensions of the Sportline just don’t make a lot of sense to me. No, to my mind the best W201s are the stock, low mileage and unmolested examples that show up from time to time in seemingly mint condition. They represent the W201 at its best: a classy but affordable form of basic transportation.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

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1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

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To wrap up the production of the W201 in 1993 and make way for the W202, Mercedes-Benz decided to give buyers a little extra something. That something was two ”Limited Edition” W201 variants. They comprised a 2.3 which was more of a luxury version and a 2.6 which was geared more towards sport. Both versions were limited to 700 cars each. The 2.6 didn’t come with any engine performance upgrades but did get different shocks, stiffer springs, roll bars, a quicker-ratio steering box, lower-profile tires and wider wheels borrowed from the S and SL. All the 2.6 cars were painted in black and the interior got some very non-conservative treatment with heavy use of red accents throughout.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

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