DOHC Project: 1987 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth – SOLD!

Jan 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

February 24, 2022 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth is one of the emerging stars of the 1980s sports car scene. It has always been a limited-production, high-performance model, but it lived in the shadow of the BMW E30 M3. That’s changing, as high-quality examples now trade hands for over $20,000 quite regularly. That said, this very tired example originally listed in January 2022 in Washington, D.C. shows how a rising tide doesn’t necessarily lift all boats as this car is quite needy – but the seller has still slapped a $10,000 asking price on it. Comparing this price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms that the “Fair” condition price is $12,000, but the seller’s car is almost certainly below that valuation.

The Cosworth is a model that is near and dear to my heart, as I desperately wanted one in high school. I finally found one to call my own and likely purchased one of the worst cars left in existence, as it was quite literally discovered in a Pennsylvania junkyard. It has rust in the jack points and the rear taillight panel, along with a few other spots, but it was still a surprisingly complete car despite being in an automotive recycling facility. One thing it absolutely has going for it over the seller’s car is the gearbox: mine is the preferred manual, while the seller’s car is one of those rare automatic-transmission examples. The four-speed automatic is said to be a good match for the engine, but it still falls short of what most enthusiasts are searching for in a car like this.

The MotorWeek Retro Review Channel features this test from 1986 of the then-new 190E 2.3-16:

The bigger issue is that the seller’s car is in fairly tired condition with evidence of work started and never completed. The 190E 2.3-16 is a fairly robust platform but it still needs plenty of TLC; the seller admits that his car needs “…exhaust, radiator clutch fan, and starter installed.” The bodywork is also a mixed bag with half of the car in primer while the other surfaces appear to retain the original Smoke Silver paint. The interior doesn’t look bad, where the four factory Recaro seats still reside, but that automatic transmission is going to be a buzzkill for most buyers who want to experience rowing through the close-ratio, dogleg pattern gearbox. Now, if the seller’s car has zero rust, I can see why he’s asking a fair number for this 190E, but it’s still a stretch to sell one of these in half-done condition for anything over $5,ooo.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Very rare 1987 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth. All original. Smoke Silver color. Car runs. Needs exhaust, radiator clutch fan, and starter installed. Have all 4 matching wheels. $10,000 or best offer

Do you have a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

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