Cosmetically Challenged: 1986 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16

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Here’s the good news: most of the Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworths I see are selling for the upper teens and well into the $20K range for cars with few needs. The only disappointing aspect of checking out eye candy like that is realizing just how far my junkyard-find Mercedes 190E Cosworth is from finishing. That’s why it’s helpful to see an example somewhere in the middle, and likely indicative of where mine will (hopefully) be a few months from now. Check out this ratty but running 190E 2.3-16 here on eBay with an $8,900 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer.

This car is obviously a runner, with what appears to be a functional SLS (Self Leveling Suspension) and aftermarket BBS-replica wheels. I assume the SLS is working, as the seller says the car is bone-stock with the exception of the European-spec headlights, the wheels, a K&N air filter, and a Momo steering wheel. The body is tired, with clearcoat fade and obvious paint damage at the right-rear corner of the Cosworth-specific rear bumper. It does come with the preferred manual “dogleg” gearbox and all of the body kit pieces appear intact.

The seller omits from his listing that the seats are not original, and are your garden-variety 190E buckets – not the rare and desirable Cosworth seats, which cost a pretty penny and are impossible to find (unless you’re me and you’ve already found a spare set to someday swap in.) I also recently found out that the 16V steering wheel, as decidedly un-sexy as it is, is actually specific to the car as it’s a smaller diameter than the wheel found in ordinary 190Es and 300Es. Much like the larger gas tank, as detailed in my recent Barn Finds video, the Cosworth cars had all sort of model-specific features.

This car even has some of the same rust as mine, such as where it’s sprouting at the base of the C-pillar. This car is in California, so perhaps the underside isn’t as crusty as mine is. Overall, the seller positions the 190E fairly as a driver in need of cosmetic restoration. It was recently treated to a new thermostat, thermostat housing, coolant flush, and shifter bushings, all must-do items for any 16V, but hardly a thorough list of improvements. I’ll be watching this one closely, as a sale at anything close to the asking price would indicate that what I paid for mine – under $1K – still looks like a bargain if the drivetrain proves to be healthy.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Mountainwoodie

    Jeff, not to be indelicate or put bad juju on you, but do you think you’ll get your Cosworth put together for less than eight grand?

    Like 4

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