The Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3-16 is the perfect starter Euro tuner car

Mercedes-Benz made its reputation building big, solid cars favored by the affluent and the famous. But by the late 1970s the company faced mounting competition in the emerging “compact executive car” segment from the likes of Audi, BMW, and Saab, and knew it had to respond. It did so brilliantly with the 190E, a Baby Benz that offered the fit-and-finish of its bigger, more expensive models in a surprisingly sporty package.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/26/mercedes-190e-is-perfect-starter-euro-car

Cosworth V-8? Maybe Cosworth twin cam 16V?

@combsdl - We actually just posted the fix on that one. There was no Cosworth V-8 in a 190E.

Not going to lie, I immediately went to google it, just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I’m more of a vintage BMW guy.

Kyle,if MB increased engine size to 2.3 liter in 1984,what year/years range is bringing the most attention and rise in value?

I’ve always ben a fan of the 190E,and 280 SL. Currently having all my dough wrapped up in a 1962 190Sl restoration,I don’t have the financial opportunity to jump on the 190E,…yet.

I just realized that the stock rim is exactly like my R129 500SL rim…

@bekeister - The Cosworth 2.3-16 and “standard” 2.3-16 190E models are currently valued the same according to our valuation experts. The changes were minimal from '84 through the rest of the run, so I would reccomend the best condition you can afford Cosworth car. They are out there!

I had a Mercedes 190 back in the day. It was junk I had 8 power windows replaced and two transmission replace under warranty. My wife loved the car and it was a fun car to drive. When it was not at the dealership being repaired. Sold the car at 18k .

Kyle, there is no such thing as a “Cosworth” 2.3-16. All 190E 2.3-16s had cylinder heads designed and engineered by Cosworth (and the early ones were also produced by Cosworth, before Mercedes eventually moved production in-house.)

There were two versions of this M102.983 engine — the “ECE” (European-spec) engine with 185 PS (182 hp), and the “KAT” (Catalytic-converter) version of the engine, which had 167 hp. The U.S.-spec car was sold for the 1986 and 1987 model years only, and there was a headlight change for the 1987, going from sealed-beam to semi-flush headlights.

There were, however, major changes to the W201 16-valve, but not for the U.S. market. It was replaced with a 190E 2.5-16, a stroked version of the engine used for the street, and then two 2.5-16 Evolution versions, which used a different 2.5-liter homologated for racing like the original 2.3 was.

Kyle - Jason is correct. The 16v is a usable classic that can be daily driven today. I live in NYC and own a 16v which is my daily. Great gas mileage, wonderful performance and great looks !!! I have no problem keeping up and beating modern traffic. Maintenance is like all German cars. Expect to to budget 1000 to 1500 a year for routine maintenance. Also keep in mind these car were built to have systems serviced and not replaced. Beware of a mechanic who is no familiar with this - It can cost you thousands !!!

Workshop manuals are available and remarkably easy to understand. Understanding your car will make it easier to communicate to a mechanic and ultimately make your car more enjoyable to own [This is only for German cars !!!]


Your R129 500SL rim is, as you surmised, derived from the stock 190E/300E rims (aka Gullideckel). In fact, the 8Jx16H2 ET34 Gullideckel that came stock on your 500SL was the OEM rolling stock for the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution 1 and was also used on very, VERY early (possibly pre-production) 500Es.

The Evolution 1 connection has made these rims quite desireable amongst the W201 crowd. Particularly the 2.3-16 owners.

Having owned my 2.3-16 for over 20 years now, I concur with @kushal.mukherjee.nj .
While mine longer sees DD duties, it is still an immensely flexible car in its usability and I would not hesitate to use it as a DD if I needed to.

It is a car that I have no intention of parting with as it is a sheer joy to drive and every time that I drive it, I love driving it more.