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.
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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.
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.