Just looking – Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth

Having delivered our verdict on the latest AMG C63, we’ve returned to its historical predecessor

Ayrton Senna is as inexorably linked with the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth – to give the car it’s full title – as he is with the Honda NSX.

But where the late Brazilian champion is credited with helping to develop Honda’s everyday supercar, his involvement with the 190E was limited to winning a race in the car, at the opening of the then-new Nurburgring GP circuit in 1984.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

To be fair, it was an impressive feat – Senna beat a grid full of professional racers, including nine former F1 world champions. This as a relative unknown at the time – racing for Toleman, Ayrton was still four years from winning his first F1 title with McLaren-Honda.

We digress – the other star of the show was of course the car, also new at the time. By modern standards, there’s nothing special about its specification. Power comes from an in-line 4-cylinder displacing 2299cc, developing 182bhp and 173lb ft of torque.

There was a five-speed manual gearbox, sending drive through a limited-slip differential to the rear wheels. Those wheels were attached to the monocoque by multi-link suspension, admittedly a relatively new development at the time, while the front end featured MacPherson struts. It would just dip under 8 seconds to 62mph, and go on to 144mph. A modern C180 BlueEfficiency diesel could out-sprint it.

It was successful on the race track though, and not just in Senna’s hands. Running in the DTM under AMG – albeit in hugely modified form – the car took 16 victories from 24 races, with Klaus Ludwig taking overall championship honours in 1992.

As this 1985 example on sale at Albion Motorcars in the Netherlands (via Classic and Performance Car) demonstrates, the Cosworth road cars can be hugely appealing vehicles.

Make no mistake - £17,750 is strong money for a 190 Cosworth. Prices are rising certainly, but this is probably the upper limit of what you’d currently pay for a non-Evolution. Particularly given that this example is left-hand drive.

But it’s hugely handsome, completely unmolested and the leather interior looks near-immaculate, despite over 88,000 miles of use since new. To echo a cliché, these cars were built at a time when Mercedes spared no expense. Building a car that goes on forever might not make much business sense, but it’s a very good thing for subsequent owners.

It’s the desirable manual too, and the dealer reports a full service history. And despite its vintage, it has air conditioning – a welcome addition for a black car with a black leather interior.

While the 190 doesn’t quite have the chops to echo its racing variant and match a good E30 M3 in terms of performance and handling, the price of equivalent M3s even makes this seventeen-grand example look conspicuously good value.

> Find Mercedes 190Es for sale on Classic and Performance Car


used cars

Cheap fast cars 2020 – the best budget performance cars on the market

4 Jun 2020
used cars

Lancia Hyena Zagato joins Jalpa, RS500 and more at Race Retro auction

7 Feb 2020

Honda Prelude - review, history, prices and specs

14 Jan 2020
used cars

Best used cars to buy now

7 Jan 2020

Most Popular

BMW 1 Series

BMW 128ti revealed as direct hot hatch rival to VW Golf GTI

BMW has revealed a simplified front-wheel drive hot 1-series called 128ti that will sit below the M135i performance flagship
16 Sep 2020
Nissan 370Z

Nissan Z Proto revealed – V6 twin-turbo, six-speed manual, and a catch

It’s the Nissan sports car we’ve been waiting 11 years for, but don’t hold your breath for it in the UK
16 Sep 2020
McLaren Senna

Five McLaren Senna GTR LMs in Le Mans liveries revealed

Celebrating 25 years since McLaren’s domination of the 1995 Le Mans 24hr with the F1 GTR
18 Sep 2020

Used car deals of the week

We’ve perused the used car pages so you don’t have to. Here’s what caught evo’s fancy this week
16 Sep 2020