The Mercedes that thinks it’s an M3 but for half the cost. And this one has a manual box, reports Paul Hardiman / #1990 #Mercedes-Benz
190E 2.5-16 £15,500
This Mercedes was extensively restored around 2008 with new metal in the rear wheelarches, new front wings and fresh paint. Structurally it remains solid beneath and has no bubbles in the body panels. The Almandine respray is holding up well, with no significant chips or scratches to fuss over and the plastics are all in good shape.
The wheels have been upgraded to AMG-type 16in alloys in place of the standard 15in Fuchs Gullydeckels and the tyres – 205/50 R16s all round – comprise 2014-dated Falkens at the front and older Events at the rear. All have decent tread. The unmatching 16in spare wheel wears a Yokohama tyre.
Some of the suspension bushes have recently been changed; a little digging in the history file shows that the engine mounts have also been renewed and the steering box rebuilt.
Inside, the leather is lightly creased but nowhere near worn and the rear seat looks unused. The carpets and dashboard are in good shape, with both the trip computer and temperature read-out still working. All four electric windows work but the nearside rear switch has been wired back to front – possibly when it was replaced – so up is down and vice versa. The trim is also slightly loose on this door. The heated seats and electric driver’s seat adjustment work perfectly and the original first-aid kit remains unopened in its compartment in the rear parcel shelf. The only area that lets the side down is the centre console veneer, which is starting to crack.
The motor is tidy, with its coolant pink and to the correct level in the header tank. It was treated to a top-end rebuild with new valves and guides not many miles ago and as a result is less rattly than many of these cars. It starts easily and shows the correct Mercedes full-scale three-bar deflection on the oil pressure gauge when warm. The temperature gauge holds steady at 80ºC. The motor pulls well towards the 7000rpm redline but there is a hint of blue smoke when accelerating from rest. There’s only a tiny – and normal – amount of play in the steering and the dogleg gearchange shifts easily with good synchromesh. The brakes are strong and pull up straight. However, there’s a hint of differential whine that concurs with an advisory on the last MoT certificate suggesting an oil leak.
The service book was stamped up to 85,060 miles in 1999 and there are bills to substantiate further servicing and care since. It’s only done 5000 miles in the past two years, with a total now reading 147,517. It comes with the original owners’ manual and will have a new MoT at sale.
These Mercedes are good value compared with E30 BMW M3s, which would fetch twice as much in similar condition.
Leather seats in the front look used but not worn. The rear seats look untouched.
Motor had a top-end rebuild recently and is rattle-free. It starts easily and revs sweetly.
CHOOSE YOUR 190
The 190E 2.3-16 homologation special is launched in 1984 so Mercedes can compete in DTM racing. It has a five-speed dogleg ZF manual or four-speed automatic gearbox, limited-slip differential, quicker steering, self-levelling rear suspension and – thanks to a Cosworth-designed cylinder head – 185bhp. 19,487 are built.
The 1988-on 190E 2.5-16 adds 200cc and 10bhp, duplex timing chains and ASD locking differential. 5743 are made from July 1988-June 1993. Further homologation of improvements in 1989 give the 2.5-16 Evo 1 a larger bore and shorter stroke, boosting power by 9bhp to 204bhp. 502 are made from 1989-1990.
Aggressive, wide-arch 2.5-16 Evo II arrives in 1990 with 235bhp delivered at a screaming 7200rpm, a more prominent bodykit – including a giant rear bootlid spoiler – and 17in alloy wheels. 502 are made and sell out almost immediately. Klaus Ludwig finally wins the DTM championship in the racing version of this car in 1992.
Contact The Motor Shed, Bicester Heritage, Oxfordshire (vintageandclassiccars.co.uk, 01869 249999/07718 764463)
Engine 2498cc inline four-cylinder dohc
Power 195bhp @ 6200rpm
Torque 174lb ft @ 4200rpm
Top speed: 146mph;
Fuel consumption 24mpg