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Buyers Guide to:

Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth

Useful Info


1984 to 1988

Fuel Type


Engine Size


Engine Type


Drive Configuration


Mercedes-Benz Owners

The Mercedes-Benz Club

Just Kampers

01256 862288,


When Mercedes-Benz decided they wanted to go racing in the German touring car series, they turned to the compact 190 model as the basis. The car they used was the Mercedes-Benz 190 2.3-16 Cosworth which went on sale in September 1984, featuring a special Cosworth- designed cylinder head and a useful 185bhp. Equipped with a dog-leg Getrag gearbox – a four-speed automatic was optional from 1985 – it was plenty quick enough and would famously feature in an F1 support race at the Nurburgring. With the entries piloted by famous drivers of the day the race was won by Ayrton Senna, cementing the Cosworth’s position as a fine sporting saloon. And it looked the part on the outside, too, thanks to a sleek and aerodynamic body kit.

  1. Front wings
  2. Around the front and rear screens
  3. Sills, with corrosion forming behind the body kit
  4. Rear wheel arches
  5. Sunroof surround

The Checklist

  • Very carefully for rot as the plastic body kit can be hiding problems. And ensure those aerodynamic parts are undamaged
  • That corrosion hasn’t affected the inner wings, the jacking points, the boot floor, or the area around the battery tray. Faded paintwork and evidence of accident damage will need checking for, too
  • For signs of rust around the sunroof (if fitted) aperture, and check carefully for signs of blocked drain holes. They can allow water to run into the A-pillars, causing serious corrosion
  • That regular servicing hasn’t been neglected. The engines are costly to rebuild, so look for oil leaks, signs of leakage from the head gasket, and the rattle of a worn timing chain. The latter should have been changed at around 40,000 miles so check the service history
  • For an obstructive gearshift or signs of worn synchromesh. The manual Getrag ‘box is tough but be warned that a rebuild or replacement is far from cheap. The automatic is less desirable for most enthusiasts, but rarely gives problems unless abused
  • There are no judders or unpleasant noises from the limited-slip differential – a replacement is more than £1000
  • The suspension for worn bushes, or any signs of corrosion around the mounting points. The self-levelling system at the rear can suffer from hydraulic uid leaks, and replacement parts are expensive. Replacing corroded pipework is pricey, too, as the rear axle needs to be dropped for access. Some owners have replaced the set- up with conventional dampers instead so check to see what’s fitted
  • For signs of fluid leaks from the power steering system; it’s likely come from the pipe unions. Uneven tyre wear or waywardness indicates worn steering joints or alignment problems which will need further investigation
  • For judder from the brakes that indicate warped discs, and ensure that the ABS warning light illuminates and extinguishes correctly on start- up. Problems with the latter can be expensive to cure
  • That the interior trim isn’t scruffy or damaged as replacements are pricey. Look for cracks in the dashboard and door cards, too, although the strong build quality means the cabin withstands abuse well
  • The electrics are all working as they should, concentrating on items such as the windows, central locking, and sunroof. Make sure the instruments are working properly, while the LCD stopwatch screen is prone to ‘bleeding’ and new ones aren’t available
  • Whether air-conditioning is fitted, and if so that it’s working properly. It was an expensive option when the car was new, so tends to be rare
  • For any modifications. Buyers of these cars tend to value originality

Everything Check Out?

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