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Roadside Sighting: Mercedes 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth

From Francis In Douglaston – I grew up in Jamaica Estates Queens, New York and I remember when my friends neighbor brought this exact car home. The owner let us come over to see the car and took the time to explain the difference to us from the standard 190E, being a 10-year-old boy interested in cars, I fell in love with it and always wanted it. He recently put it up for sale and when I called him about it he was asking a very high price. And unfortunately, there was no discount for remembering when he brought the car home and my yearning for it all these years. I can say the car was always outside and recently covered with a tarp for a few years. In reading about Jeff’s dealing with one of these Mercs and him saying these cars rot from the inside out I passed on buying it. Ironically, I finally have a two-car garage and the space to work on it, but I can’t justify it. Having 3 kids and a minivan you would think I could treat myself to this particular car! Hopefully, a fellow reader can at least save it.

I think many of us have had a similar experience as Francis, at least the part about seeing a truly special car as a kid that impacted and shaped our interest in cars. It’s really too bad that Francis can’t buy this Cosworth Mercedes after his childhood experience with it. That’s how things often go, but hopefully one day he will have the opportunity to own one of these sporty sedans.

These cars are definitely going up in value, but the seller’s $24k asking price is too high. It’s value will obviously be based on the engine’s condition, the condition of the interior and whether there is any rust. From the outside, it looks to be solid, but as Francis pointed out these tend to rust from the inside out. He did snap a photo of Jon’s (seller) for sale sign, which contains their phone number.

I want to thank Francis for sharing his story with us! For the right price, it seems like it could actually be a really great find. If you happen to make Jon an offer and end up buying the car, I’m sure Francis and all the rest of us would love to follow along as you get it back into tip-top shape!


  1. Chad

    more of the 5 cyl 300TD wagon from the 80s kinda guy…

    Like 3
  2. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Really hard to tell if this one is rusty without getting underneath it. The bodykit attaches at one of the most sensitive spots, right near the jack points, and you can’t see the rot from the outside or above.

    The ballasts have definitely seized in the back, resulting in the hydraulic suspension collapse you can see here.

    Might otherwise be OK, but I see these trading hands in project form pretty reliably in the $5K-$8K range.

    Like 2
  3. Tony Primo

    Well Josh, did you ever consider starting a GoFundMe page for Francis so that all the Barn Finds readers can chip in to help him purchase his dream car? It could probably catch on and become a monthly feature.

    Like 4
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Hmmm….I think we already have one of those for a Mercedes Cosworth, except no one’s paying for my restoration….

      Like 5
      • Pat L Member

        I know exactly how you feel Jeff.

        Like 3
  4. Paulbz3

    The car looks more like a standard 190 with some aftermarket flares and junk on it to make it look like a Cosworth model. I could be wrong but until I can see the motor my gut tells me this isn’t quite what it seems, FWIW…

    Like 0
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Nope, those are OEM fender flares, front and rear spoilers, side skirts, etc. The deflated suspension in the rear confirms it. Nothing shady about this other than it being a very tired example with a very high asking price.

      Like 1
  5. ghalperin Glenn Halperin

    Where is the photo of the sign in the window on the drivers side/ It may have more info.

    Like 0
  6. PDXBryan

    A couple of years ago I thought about buying a tired MB 2.3-16. Glad I didn’t. I think these are one of those cars you want to find a well cared for example or pass.

    Like 2
  7. Alex

    Wow, $24k? That’s absolutely outrageous for one of these cars. Cosworth or not, it doesn’t even look like a $5k car. Hopefully the seller comes back down to reality and drops the price a little bit.

    Like 1
  8. Russell

    I remember a “Top Gear” episode when the lads were given 5000 Pounds for a competition and “Captain Slow” bought a 190 Cozzi…

    Like 0
  9. Carcrazy

    I sold my 86 with 34k original miles for $14k two years ago. Nearly mint. Awesome cars, but finicky fuel systems, and parts can get expensive. I wanted one along with my 87 Alfa Milano Verde and M3. Of the 3, the Benz felt heaviest and least fun, compared to the Milano. I have now sold all 3, but still miss the Milano.

    Like 1
  10. Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

    I just recently watched the Wheeler Dealers Season 3 episode devoted to one of these. They did the usual conversion to non-self-leveling suspension. This one looks rougher than theirs…

    Like 0
  11. Blumalago

    Do you think he’d be willing to sell the license plate frame?

    Like 1
  12. djjerme

    @PDXBryan – there’s a legit one over by my part of town that I run by in the mornings. Looks fairly nice, and I too have thought about picking one up.

    Like 1

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