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1987 MERCEDES-BENZ 190 2.3 16v Cosworth

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1987 MERCEDES-BENZ 190 2.3 16v Cosworth


From January 1974 to January 1982, Mercedes spent in excess of £600 million researching and developing the 190 range (internally designated W201), which was manufactured in various guises from 1982 to 1993. Mercedes later said that the 190E was “massively over-engineered”. That’s Mercedes saying that. A company where the teaspoons in the staff canteen were probably built to withstand earthquakes.

The ‘E’ after 190 stands for Einspritzung, or fuel injection for non-Teutonic readers. This Bosch KE-Jetronic system delivered more power and fuel efficiency than its carburettor-equipped predecessor.

Desperate to put the 190E into motorsport, Mercedes turned to Cosworth to develop an engine for rallying. But once they’d seen what the turbocharged, four wheel drive Audi Quattro was doing, they switched focus to DTM - the German Touring Car Championship. This meant that for homologation, Mercedes had to produce a 190E Cosworth for the road.

The detuned 2.3-litre 16-valve Cosworth engine developed 185bhp and 174lb.ft of torque and would take the car to 62mph in under 8 seconds, going on to a top speed of 143mph. In 1988, a larger 2.5-litre 16-valve engine brought power levels up to 204bhp.

Of course, the Cosworth cars didn’t just have a different engine to the standard 190E, they also had a laundry list of upgrades including aerodynamic body kits, quicker steering, dog-leg manual 5-speed gearbox, limited slip diff as standard, lower and stiffer suspension and a sportier interior.

1989 and 1990 brought two more powerful 190Es - the Evolution and Evolution II respectively - but these were only built in limited quantities of around 500 each for DTM homologation and so are much rarer, and hugely pricier, than the “standard” 16V Cosworths like the one you see for sale here.

The Vehicle

First registered in November 1987 by Bradshaw & Webb Mercedes-Benz of Chelsea, this 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth was the personal conveyance of Mr Edward Dawe, a director of the DeBeers diamond mining company in London.

Needless to say, the specification was high; factory options included automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, rear headrests, electric driver’s seat, sunroof, alarm system and a Blaupunkt Vancouver stereo.

The original bill of sale included in the car’s history file details how the extras and options on the car plus taxes added up to an on the road price of £31,035.53 - quite a lot to pay back then and the equivalent of around £90k in today’s money.

In the mid-nineties, the car was bought by DeBeers’ fleet manager, Raymond Chalkley from south Essex, in whose name it remained until late 2009, although it was his son Scott - a member of staff at Mercedes-Benz Stratford - who looked after the car.

It passed to its third owner in South Wales in late 2009 and was sold at auction in the following June. The fourth owner was a modern classics specialist from Oxfordshire and he kept the car on the road for around 4 years before dry storing it until 2019 when it was sold, again at auction, to the current owner - our vendor.

Soon after the purchase, he sent the car to a German car specialist in Hitchin for recommissioning which cost over £3k (full details in History Highlights). Sadly (or not depending on your view of the comparative climate) he has found himself stranded in Florida by the pandemic and has decided to sell the car.

On the Outside

The exterior of the car is painted Smoke Silver metallic, one of only two colours available for the 2.3-16V (the other being Blue-Black metallic). The paintwork looks strong for a 30+ year old car, with only a few small knocks and scuffs. The bodywork appears straight with perhaps the exception of the offside lower body trim behind the front wheel arch which looks just a touch wavy and the nearside sill trim which has been heavily scuffed.

The bumpers and door mirrors have likely been re-blacked recently and look solid, and the grille, badges and other trims and fittings appear in good order.

The car sits on its original lightweight 15-inch forged alloy wheels, which look in a good condition with just a little kerb scuffing on the front nearside. All were fitted with Marshal Matrac tyres in 2006 and, although now dated, the tread depth is good.

As ever, we welcome and encourage a personal inspection; please use the Contact Seller feature to arrange a visit - subject to Government guidelines of course - or a one-to-one video call to look over the car and discuss it with our team.

On the Inside

The interior of this 190E appears largely original. The bill of sale specified the trim as black cloth 071 which is indeed the checked fabric you see on the facings of the leather seats and on the door cards. The upholstery appears in a fair to good condition with no apparent damage other than snagging on the driver’s seat base, a little wear in the usual places and the occasional spillage stain.

The dash and the instrument panel are in good order and seem original too, but the steering wheel is a later addition. It appears to be an Italvolanti model, the same brand of wheel that AMG fitted to the cars that they breathed on in period.

The centre console sports the additional 3 gauges that came with the 16V cars, and above sits a period Mercedes-Benz stereo. It doesn’t appear to be the originally specified Blaupunkt Vancouver but a contemporary Becker unit.

The wood veneer around the gear shift is intact and doesn’t appear to be cracking as many do, although there are a few nicks on the edges. Alongside the handbrake lever sits a classic late ‘80s Racal Vodafone car phone which is now known as a brick but in period was the last word in executive connectivity.

So far as we’ve been able to test, most of the electrics and interior equipment is functioning - including the electric sunroof - but only the driver’s window seems to operate correctly. Before you ask, we haven’t tried to “phone home” as the UK’s cellular telephone network has moved on somewhat since 1987. Now the retro carphone will just have to be a different kind of conversation starter.

The carpets are in good order with a little wear by the driver’s footwell and there are also overmats for additional protection. The headlining too appears clean and intact.


Under the bonnet, which is missing its acoustic lining, the engine bay appears in a fair to good condition. There is some surface rust across the back of the engine bay on the driver’s side and on some of the components and fixings but the engine and major ancillaries seem in good order.

The undersides of the car appear largely rust free and floor panels are still coated in underseal. There is a little surface rust across some of the suspension and steering components but otherwise the underneath looks relatively clean, tidy and undamaged with evidence of recent work on the brake lines.

Inside the boot, the carpet and linings are intact but a little soiled in places. Underneath is the jack and full size spare wheel with Bridgestone tyre. The boot and wheel-well floor appears sound with no significant rust. Also in the boot are a first aid kit and warning triangle, original tool kit and the mobile phone transmitter unit which is fitted under the rear deck.

There is a little bit of duct tape protecting the boot seal where one of the hinges passes it, presumably to prevent abrasion, and the rubber is starting to perish in a few places. Neither appears to have compromised the integrity of the seal.

History Highlights

The 190E has a current MOT valid until February 2022 which it passed with no advisories once headlamp alignment and emissions issues were addressed. The paper MOT history with the car stretches back to 1994 and aside from the period in storage 2015-19, it has had a near annual inspection which records and validates the current mileage of 103,000.

The car also comes with numerous Mercedes-Benz invoices for parts and work done as well as its original book pack including sales brochure, owner’s manuals and service booklet, in which the following services are documented:

Nov 1987 - PDI - Bradshaw & Webb Chelsea

Dec 1988 - 10,776 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Oct 1989 - 18,448 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Oct 1990 - 24,123 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Oct 1991 - 33,489 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

May 1992 - 35,303 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Jun 1993 - 40,157 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Jan 1994 - 42,632 - Mercedes-Benz Brentford

Feb 1997 - 53,509 - unknown

Nov 1997 - 60,025 - owner serviced Chalkley

Jul 1999 - 72,583 - Mercedes-Benz Southend

Aug 2000 - 78,911 - Mercedes-Benz Southend

Aug 2019 - 103,302 - Auto Service Hitchin

In addition to the MOT and service in August 2019, Auto Service also carried out a full recommissioning of the car, documented in the history file, with work totalling over £3k:

- Brakes overhauled

- Throttle cable renewed

- Hydraulics renewed

- Drive belt replaced

- Electrical issues

- Coolant refreshed

- NSF lower ball joint

- Fuel feed issues

Please also see the list of factory fitted items in the gallery under the document section.

What We Think

The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16V - aka Cosworth - is a desirable modern classic and asking prices for sorted examples, even high milers, are very strong compared to the standard 8V cars. Mercedes of all vintages are a popular choice on The Market, but those from the late 20th Century - especially those with Cosworth engines and stylish body kits - offer a great mix of classic feel and modern comfort with amazingly solid engineering.

We estimate this rare 190E Cosworth - which has a good and interesting history, and relatively low miles compared to most examples of its type - will reach somewhere between £19,000 and £24,000.

As well as ongoing maintenance, there is still scope for a new owner to make improvements but otherwise it appears to be a ready-to-go car.

Viewing is always encouraged (within Govt. guidelines of course), and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

EU & BREXIT - If you are bidding from overseas & planning to export your vehicle abroad, you should be aware of two important things: 1) There is no VAT on used cars in the UK. 2) After Brexit, you might have to pay import tax in your country.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, CLASSIC CONCIERGE LTD for storing your car and an array of regional providers for transporting it.

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Odometer Reading: 103,290 warranted
  • Chassis Number: WDB2010342F425235
  • Engine: 2299
  • Gearbox: Automatic
  • Colour: Smoke Silver
  • Interior: Black leather/sports check inserts

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