Euro-Spec DTM Superstar for the Road: 44k-Mile 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Sedan 5-Speed

  • March 24, 2021
The Rundown
  • 44k Seller-Stated Miles
  • Cosworth-Engineered DOHC 16V 2.5L 4-Cylinder
  • 5-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Offered from Knowledgeable Ownership
  • Overall Good Condition w/ Honest Presentation
  • One of Mercedes’ Best Racing-Homologation Models
Why We Like It

Engineered under Bruno Sacco, the 190E debuted for 1985 as a somewhat smaller Mercedes-Benz sedan rivalling BMW’s popular 3-Series. Predictably, the two marques would duke it out in the new DTM (German Touring Car) racing series and in a counterpunch to BMW’s M3, Mercedes-Benz enlisted the engineering wizards at England’s Cosworth to develop a new DOHC, 16-valve cylinder head to create the 2.3L 190E 2.3-16. While looking very much like a “normal” 190E, the 2.3-16 is an Autobahn-worthy sports sedan with a driver-centric interior and comprehensively upgraded suspension. Facing off against the vaunted M3, the 190E 2.3-16 became a touring car legend and as a road car buyers were rewarded handsomely, but unfortunately only an approximate 2,000 of these delectable and potent performers were exported to the United States and only for the ‘86-‘87 model years. European buyers, however, were treated to an upsized 2.5L engine spec by 1988 and ever more potent Evolution I and Evolution II models in following years.


euro-spec-dtm-superstar-for-the-road-44k-mile-1990-mercedes-benz-190e-2-5-16s-l1600-7Our subject 190E is a 1990 European specification 2.5-16 with approximately 44k seller-stated miles (72,500 km) at the time of advertising, and of course it’s equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox. According to the seller, they acquired the car a few months ago from a collector, and since their purchase, they have restored some interior trim pieces and sourced and installed a period correct radio (not connected yet). While the exterior displays the usual stone chips and scratches associated with normal use, the seller states the interior is in very good condition, as are the ‘Evo’ type wheels, while the sunroof works and is leak-free. They also advise the engine runs great and revs willingly, as it should, in concert with the always-appreciated manual transmission, but they do concede the engine has developed a small oil leak after some post-purchase driving. Hopefully that is a cheap and easy fix. Maybe a gasket needs replacement? Other little issues are discussed in the seller’s honest and forthright online advertisement for the car.


Valuation Verdict

Truly wonderful road machines, the 190E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 were the high-performance “halo cars” of Mercedes-Benz during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. They not only kept Mercedes-Benz competitive on the track, but also importantly spurred sales action on the showroom floor and attracted new buyers into the fold. These cars were also rightly praised in period road tests and they continue to deliver a highly responsive and uniquely Mercedes-style driving experience today. According to online sale activity, the Evolution I seems to occupy the $100k level; double that for good examples of the bonkers Evo II. A rare AMG Power Pack was also available, with one sold on Bring a Trailer for $58k back in 2016 and another one around the same time that was bid to $63k but unsold. The closest comparable car to our subject vehicle has slightly lower mileage and was bid to $38k but passed unsold during October 2020. While the seller’s ask is slightly higher, our subject car could be considered ‘Worth the Premium’. It seems to be honestly presented by an exacting owner and after a thorough review and rectification of known issues, should provide a great drive for a savvy new owner.

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