Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth (1985).
Famous DTM contender from the eighties, in fantastic condition.
30 years after the tragic accident at Le Mans in which a 300SLR crashed into the crowd and killed 83 people, Mercedes finally returned to motorsport in the mid-1980s. Their first weapon was the 190E 2.3-16. It would take on the European Touring Car Championship and eventually become a dominating force in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). Its famous rivalry with BMW M3 would give motorsport fans many thrilling moments. However, the most important is that the car was built according to FIA Group A rules, which called for 5,000 production cars and a further 500 cars for each evolution. Without these rules, fans would not have been possible to own and drive these wonderful machines.
It goes without saying that 190E 2.3-16 was derived from the new "baby Mercedes", W201 series, a refined compact saloon, from the days that Mercedes was building the highest quality cars in the world. If properly set up, its innovative multi-link rear suspension offered exceptional roadholding. What Mercedes lacked was a powerful small engine, and that is where the cooperation with Cosworth started. The British engineering company designed and casted an alloy cylinder head with high-tech 16 valves and cross-flow construction, fitted it to the cast-iron block of existing Mercedes 2.3-liter engine. In addition to tuned intake and exhaust, modified Bosch K-jetronic injection and electronic ignition, the little motor could rev up to 7000 rpm and produce 185 horsepower. That sounds no more than a hot hatch today, but in 1984 that was quite an achievement. Remember, a contemporary Porsche 944 offered no more than 163 hp from 2.5 liters. The first BMW M3 would better the Mercedes by 15 hp, but that was 2 years later. The rest of the car got predictable mods: beefier rubbers, stiffer and lower suspension, bigger brakes, LSD, a rear spoiler, flared wheel arches and extra skirts. Mercedes deliberately made the spoilers and aero kits subtle to avoid a boy-racer image, keeping its premium image intact. Inside, the regular seats were replaced with four Recaro leather buckets (which ruled out the fifth occupant). As in other Mercedes, the 190E 2.3-16 did not sacrifice comfort and refinement. It had air-conditioning and power windows fitted as standard. Noise insulation remained, so did the rear doors. Besides, it had Mercedes' hydropneumatic rear suspensions to maintain ride height regardless of load.
The example we have on offer is delivered new in 1985 in Switzerland, and comes with a full service history. The car is in immaculate condition, as visible in the photographs, and offers a very entertaining drive. It does feel like a Mercedes with only 40.000 km on the clocks, which says enough about the build quality and maintenance level of this particular 190. This very sporty Mercedes has a wonderful interior in black nappa leather, and the Recaro seats in the front and rear look absolutely right in this homologation special. These cars are still quite interesting in price, but are on the way up. Our example is probably one of the best available, and although not the cheapest on the market it is definitely good value for money. Bringing a lesser example to this condition will certainly cost more !