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.
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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 eBay9 Comments
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 eBay3 Comments
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 Craigslist6 Comments
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.