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Euro Market Cosworth: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16


As many of you know, I saved a junked Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth from the junkyard just about two years ago, now. I promise you, we’ll have some new content soon; I’ve recently cleared a few projects out, so there should be smooth sailing moving forward. In the meantime, let’s check out this European-market model that was recently imported to the United States, a desirable 2.5-16 edition. The European-spec cars got better power and a very trick suspension, and given they’re importable under the 25 year rule, they’ve been increasingly showing up for sale stateside. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $36,000.

The U.S.-spec model, the 2.3-16, was a lovely performance car when new, and a formidable opponent to the E30 M3 of the same era. But enthusiasts undoubtedly knew the domestic model was robbed of a few horsepower when it arrived here, along with the adjustable suspension that came on higher-end models. While most web references to the 2.5-16 will leapfrog examples like this to show you the six-figure Evolution II model, with its wild bodywork and inches-off-the-ground stance, examples like this are a relative bargain in comparison. They made more power than the 2.3-16 and got the adjustable suspension – for a hell of a lot less than an Evolution II.

Of course, the other standard Cosworth features were still there, including the full Recaro interior, dogleg-style manual shift transmission, and rear bucket seats. The European models also got away with far less fiddly HVAC controls and a non-airbag steering wheel. The original 2.3-16 offering in the states also only came in two colors, silver or a blue-black metallic scheme, whereas the 2.5-16s were offered in a more diverse palette, should color selection matter to you. The seller notes that this 2.5-16 has just 44,000 miles, so the interior remains in excellent condition.

The 2.5-16, of course, doesn’t come with a catalytic converter and there’s no CARB sticker to be found, so California buyers will have a hard time making this one work. Those of us living in more relaxed states shouldn’t have much of a problem, and I’ve actually seen three of these 2.5-16s in the last few months, two with Rhode Island plates and another one registered in New Hampshire. While you’re going to spend far more for one of these compared to a basketcase like mine, truly exceptional 2.3-16s are in the mid-to-high 20s at the moment, making the cost of importing a genuine 2.5-16 a compelling alternative if you’ve got the extra scratch.


  1. GuernseyPagoda

    Jeff-I have an old Pagoda. What is the under 25 year rule that you wrote about?

    Like 2
    • piston poney

      it’s an import law and if a car is 25 years or older you can import it here to the U.S. hope that answers your question.

      Like 2
  2. alphasud Member

    This should have no problem selling for the asking price. More civilized than the E30 M3 and with the 2.5 somebody is going to be a happy camper!

    Like 2
  3. Superdessucke

    These used to be available for less than 10k just a decade ago all day long. I think they’ve gone up since then but the price is still optimistic, IMO. The Euro car gave you just 18 horsepower over the U.S. model (185 v. 167) due to a higher compression ratio. So the difference isn’t enough to justify a huge premium.

    • CSC

      Only the worst examples sell for $10K these days. And very nice 2.3-16s trend at $30-$35000 on BAT…which is where this car belongs, but I guess the seller took issue with something in their policy.

      Anyway, this has a better engine, better suspension, is more rare, and in what looks like fantastic shape. There’s absolutely no reason not to price it in line with the best of what’s around, regardless of platform.

    • CS

      You can barely get a runner for 10K anymore.
      This is definitely nice enough to hang with the best of the 2.3s–which themselves are $30-$37K on BAT, so while I think the seller has missed his mark with the platform, there’s no reason to believe he won’t get his asking price or damned near. With the better engine and suspension, plus the miles and rarity of a Euro model (at the moment anyway), it’s certainly worth asking that kind of money.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I wish these were 10K, then I could afford one.

        Prices have steadily increased on these, and good ones are hard to find. These are driven, so low mileage, babied examples are rare, and costly.

  4. Todd Zuercher

    Glorious looking example – love those seats!

  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This is on my short list of cars I would love to own one day.

    Love those seats – had them in a 2000 Audi S4.

    Like 1

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