The world economic climate at the dawn of the 1980s drove many manufacturers to expand their ranges with less expensive entry level offerings and Mercedes-Benz was no different with the debut of their W201/190 series in 1982. The 190 was slotted below the W123 series and was the result of an almost 2 billion DM investment in research and development, as well as investments in production facilities dedicated to the model. The 190’s elegantly simple Sacco-designed shape was not only attractive but also offered a 0.33 coefficient of drag while still seating four adults comfortably. A smooth ride was ensured thanks to a five-link suspension developed specifically for the 190.
By the time production ended in 1993 almost 1.8 billion examples had been produced with a dizzying assortment of engines for the multitude of markets in which it was sold. Initial engine choices in 1982 were 2-liter diesel and gas powerplants that were followed a year later by 2.2-liter diesel and a 113-horsepower 2.3-liter gas mill, the latter used for North American-bound cars in 1983. This 2.3 motor received mild increases in horsepower throughout its life in both federal and non-federal spec, and was later joined by a 164-horsepoewr 2.6-liter inline-six that was also a popular option in North America, albeit with a 4 horsepower loss in its journey across the Atlantic.
Some notable specials included the 190E 2.3-16 that sported a massaged 2.3-liter four-cylinder with a Cosworth 16-valve head that produced 185 horsepower (167 in the U.S.) and a 5-speed Getrag gearbox. Revised suspension and bodywork that included a not-so-subtle rear wing were also part of the package. This 7000-rpm screamer could accelerate to 60 mph in the high-7 second range on its way to a 143 mph top speed. More is always better, and to that end the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution appeared with 502 Evo I and a further 502 Evo II’s being built. Commensurate gains in performance, handling, and price of entry all accompanied the Evo cars, and they are quite prized by collectors today.
The Mercedes-Benz 190 series is starting to gain favor with collectors today due to its affordability, build quality, and pleasing shape with the only threats being rust and neglect that is made more tolerable by a healthy if at times pricy parts aftermarket.
1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E Info
4-cyl. 2300cc/121hp Multi-Port Fuel Injection
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