- the cool factor of this 1986 mercedes-benz 190e 2.3-16, currently up for auction on bring a trailer, cannot be denied.
- the car, built to satisfy the dtm touring-car homologation requirement, has a 167-hp 2.3-liter inline-four and a five-speed manual transmission.
- bidding is up to $8100 so far on the 130,000-mile mercedes, with the auction scheduled to end on tuesday, february 22.
performance cars from the '80s and '90s are very hip these days, and while i am not immune to trends, i like to think that my fondness for sporty cars of this era was formed in my youth. interestingly though, there are very few mercedes from this era that i pine after. sure, there are late-20th-century mercs that i want, but the two at the top of the list from my youth are the porsche-engineered and -built 500e and this car, the mercedes-benz 190e 2.3-16. mercedes manufactured it so that it could compete in the dtm championship, and homologation cars have a cool factor that can't be replicated. this example is for sale now on the bring a trailer auction site—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos.
when the 2.3-16 came out in the mid-'80s, it was unlike any other mercedes sedan that preceded it. as its name suggests, it had a high-strung 2.3-liter engine fitted with 16 valves. mind you, this was a time when four valves per cylinder was practically exotic. mercedes leveraged the expertise of engine giant cosworth to supply the dohc head design for the m102 engine. it was crazy expensive at the time, costing more than double what a merkur xr4ti cost. but it got you class-leading performance in every metric, save fuel economy, according to our march 1986 road test.
this example is a u.s.-spec car, which means it has a 167-hp tune, whereas the european models have 185-hp engines. not a big deal for me as this car is more about the experience. plus, it isn't perfect. the taillamps aren't original, the rear parcel shelf is missing some trim, and the sunroof doesn't work. it has an aftermarket blaupunkt stereo that is meant to look old but can't replicate the coolness of the becker grand prix head unit that came from the factory.
the videos posted by the seller indicate that this one appears to be mechanically sound with just enough wrong that it won't set a record price. this is ideal for me as it would keep me busy searching for period-correct parts. and it isn't so nice that i would be nervous or have regret driving it. the first thing i would do is replace all the rubber in the suspension—make it feel new even if it doesn't quite look new. whoever wins it will enjoy it, that much i know.