RE: PH Fleet: Mercedes 190E 2.5-16

RE: PH Fleet: Mercedes 190E 2.5-16

Friday 22nd February

PH Fleet: Mercedes 190E 2.5-16

Never meet your heroes. Or buy them and leave them stationary on the driveway for four years...



Investing is, at its essence, nothing more than gambling and I claim no visionary genius behind my decision, back in 2012, to buy this purplish version of Merc's seminal '80s sports saloon. The regular 190E was a staid, middle-class appliance, but the 16-valve version - with a Cosworth developed cylinder head to homologate it for racing - was one of the snazziest four-doors in the period. With apologies for a horrendous cliché, I did indeed have a poster of one on my bedroom wall - albeit one that was smaller and less prominently positioned than the one for the Sierra RS.

But I couldn't afford a Sierra Cosworth, nor indeed an E30 M3, with the 2.5-16 being less than half the then-price of a rough example of either. In terms of raw worth the 190E was undoubtedly my best automotive investment, indeed the practically the only one that hasn't barbequed a pile of fifties. I paid £5700 for it from a dealer, which was towards the top of the market back then considering what looked like a highish mileage. It's had a not-great respray at some point, although the Almandine Red colour is original, but it has a six-inch history file that goes all the way back to the original sales invoice. Given the punchy valuations being attached to similar cars it's got to be worth more than twice that now; of course, if I'd bought the rare-groove Evolution I'd pretty much have a Bitcoin haul.

Not that I was getting much use out of my hard-working asset. Life had got in the way and - as is often the case with older motors when you have access to newer ones - issues stacked up. A 1990s alarm proved to be a battery slayer, and immobilized the car at inevitably inopportune moments, a persistent misfire never got better, no matter how much I ignored it, and rust started to bubble through the front wings. My critical error was filling in the SORN declaration back in 2015, turning the Merc into a driveway ornament and adding extra hassle to a reawakening.


Which is what it would probably have stayed as a while longer if I hadn't moved late last year. Reckoning the new house buyers were unlikely to include fair value for a mildewing Merc I bit the bullet and dispatched it to Autoclass in Milton Keynes, the well-regarded specialist who had looked after it when it was last mobile. Then I waited anxiously for the phone call from proprietor James Tate. The good news was that the mechanical and electrical problems were all pretty trivial. The bad news? "There's quite a bit of rust underneath..."

It wasn't just the bits I could see, there was rot in the jacking points and various other bits of the underbody. Justifying the expenditure on the basis the car had been quietly earning as it decayed - and watching the Ford's spectacular "I'm going to make you great again" cheesefest to gee myself up - I authorized the bodyshop to do the necessary, resulting in a £1538 bill.

Other stuff was less financially painful. The Dunlop tyres that the car had been sitting on for years were more square than round so would need replacing. They had been fine, so my first instinct was just to get another set, only to find they don't exist any more. Indeed the 190E's once-enormous 205/55R15s are now barely supported and while the internet offered plenty of choice, most were from cheap-and-cheerless unknown brands clearly aimed at price conscious minicabbers. While 207hp isn't exactly huge by modern standards, I still want some chance of getting it onto the tarmac...


Fortunately Kumho still makes the well-reviewed Ecsta in this odd size, so a set were ordered and fitted - £292.00. Brakes had also been killed by the long sit; the 190E was on aftermarket drilled discs when I got it, and I never found a set of pads that seemed to get on well with them. At Autoclass's recommendation I've swapped back to standard Merc discs and pads - OE parts are still available, and £226.12 for all the parts for both axles seemed more than fair.

There are still a couple of problems to be sorted out - a non-working electric window and a stuck sunroof - then the 190E will be heading for its Moment Of Truth with the inspector. With the removal of the kamikaze alarm I also need to think of a security solution beyond the unusual layout of the dogleg gearbox. Are Diskloks really coming back into fashion?

All being well it will be back on the road in the next couple of weeks, and I can start polishing some life into the faded paintwork and having some of those long-postponed driving adventures I bought it to enjoy in the first place.


Car: 1990 Mercedes 190E 2.5-16
Bought: May 2012
Run by: Mike Duff
Mileage at purchase: 157,000
Mileage now: 161,000 (!)
Last month at a glance: £££




Author
Discussion

acme

Original Poster:

2,011 posts

137 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
The old Evo long termer car, good to see you still have it, I look forward to updates.

DickP

648 posts

89 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
Hi

I am confused - 205/55R16 is a widely available tyre size, so much so that cars like the Ford Focus come with it new even now?

the_hood

391 posts

133 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
DickP said:
Hi

I am confused - 205/55R16 is a widely available tyre size, so much so that cars like the Ford Focus come with it new even now?
The Merc rolls on 205/55 R15's

charltjr

3,529 posts

134 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
DickP said:
Hi

I am confused - 205/55R16 is a widely available tyre size, so much so that cars like the Ford Focus come with it new even now?
R15 not R16, unfortunately.

Still, there are some decent tyres available, Ventus Prime 2 for example. Pretty limited choices though, especially for anything remotely performance oriented.

stevebear

84 posts

103 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
Always loved the 190, still aspire to this or the 2.3.
About 10 or so years ago, I had a totally undesirable manual 190 carb in that so shiny black Merc used to do - I loved it!
Complete poverty spec including manual windows but then you had to option those and the likes back then. It did sport a rather fetching AMG boot spoiler - no idea if would've been a genuine part or not, and a set of fake AMG monoblocks - I think that's my answer there....
Also came with Irish 'personal' plate - NBZ1852 - so so sad....
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AdamV12AMR

1,135 posts

95 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
mike duff said:
a persistent misfire never got better, no matter how much I ignored it
This is an excellent turn of phrase. I'll be deploying it forthwith thumbup

Cold

6,333 posts

29 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
I thought the 2.3 head was the Cosworth version with the 2.5 being a Mercedes design?

silentbrown

4,416 posts

55 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
Typical timing! I've been drooling over a silver 2.5 recently. If I buy it, my wife can blame you now.

Turbobanana

1,252 posts

140 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
PH said:
... with a Cosworth developed cylinder head to homologate it for racing...
I was always under the impression that they originally wanted to homologate it for rallying.

No doubt someone will be along shortly to clarify.

daviekiwi

12 posts

144 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
A great looking car! these 190's 16v's have aged well and are still reasonably priced compared to its on track rival e30 m3.
I wonder how the latest mercedes barges will be received in 30 years time?


s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
Turbobanana said:
PH said:
... with a Cosworth developed cylinder head to homologate it for racing...
I was always under the impression that they originally wanted to homologate it for rallying.

No doubt someone will be along shortly to clarify.
Correct - originally conceived for rallying but switched to racing over concerns re its competitiveness in rallying as the 4wd cars arrived

Mr Tidy

7,641 posts

66 months

Friday 22nd February
quotequote all
Lovely cars!

I drove my mate's 2.3-16 back in 1991 I think - loved it!

Some years later I had a 2 litre manual 190e which was a great car, but wasn't a 16V.

2.5-16 in Almandine Red has to be as good as a 190 gets - if you don't count the silly-money EVO.

Looking forward to some updates soon!

pSyCoSiS

2,389 posts

144 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
That's a fantastic car.

James Tate is a top bloke and AutoClass have looked after my Mercs for years. The guys there really do know what they are doing. I trust them so much that I travel 80 miles each way to get my cars sorted there.

My R129 is currently with them.

Looking forward to how you get on with it when its back on the road.

The 2.3 and 2.5 and only creeping in value!

Pericoloso

38,113 posts

102 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
Diskloks never went out of fashion,one of the best deterrents then and now.
I've had one since they were invented.

greenarrow

1,555 posts

56 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
I always fancied one of these, they always seemed so cheap and under-rated against the E30 M3 and Sierra Cosworth. I've still got my Autocar from 2007 when they tested all three and concluded that in many ways, the Merc was the best buy of the bunch. That was when they were available for around £4-5K as they were for years.

Now the boat has sailed and I'd never be able to afford one, as is the case with most late 1980s stuff. However, I wondered if the 2.6 litre version might still be cheap? Always struck me as a good value cheaper alternative to the 2.3 or 2.5 16 valve versions.

s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
I always fancied one of these, they always seemed so cheap and under-rated against the E30 M3 and Sierra Cosworth. I've still got my Autocar from 2007 when they tested all three and concluded that in many ways, the Merc was the best buy of the bunch. That was when they were available for around £4-5K as they were for years.

Now the boat has sailed and I'd never be able to afford one, as is the case with most late 1980s stuff. However, I wondered if the 2.6 litre version might still be cheap? Always struck me as a good value cheaper alternative to the 2.3 or 2.5 16 valve versions.
I remember that article - surprised they didn’t use the contemporary Sapphire 3-box shape in keeping with the Merc and BM examples rather than the old 3-door style. Then again I don’t think the Heritage fleet use the 4-dr as much






Mate still has his 2.5-16 , bought cheaply over a decade ago. Really well screwed together and the rear felt planted compared to the others imo.
He had a cheap 2.3 before that but the tinworm killed it and in truth it wasn’t any quicker than my Sierra V6 - the 2.5 was a lot quicker.

greenarrow

1,555 posts

56 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all

Ha, yes indeed that's the article!

You're right about the handling too. The Merc 190 range was considered a far superior handling car to the E30 3 Series back in the day. Its surprising that Cosworth versions aside, they still aren't that appreciated and valuable compared with other 80s classics.

Also from an era when MB cars felt like they were hewn from granite and had classy understated styling and also were relatively uncommon. Complete opposite from the current range of over-aggressively styled bling laden cars which seem to spent a lot of their time attached to the rear bumper of other cars in lane 3 on motorways.

f1ten

1,784 posts

92 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
I might well put my 500 into auto class for some work as they look like they know old Mercedes!

pSyCoSiS said:
That's a fantastic car.

James Tate is a top bloke and AutoClass have looked after my Mercs for years. The guys there really do know what they are doing. I trust them so much that I travel 80 miles each way to get my cars sorted there.

My R129 is currently with them.

Looking forward to how you get on with it when its back on the road.

The 2.3 and 2.5 and only creeping in value!

s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
Ha, yes indeed that's the article!

You're right about the handling too. The Merc 190 range was considered a far superior handling car to the E30 3 Series back in the day. Its surprising that Cosworth versions aside, they still aren't that appreciated and valuable compared with other 80s classics.

It was an interesting combo as they never tested that trio together originally

The prices hadn’t really budged much since the start of the millennium when you could have got all 3 ( well maybe a more vanilla M3 rather than a Sport Evo ) for £15k


daviekiwi

12 posts

144 months

Saturday 23rd February
quotequote all
190 merc rear suspension for the day was well advanced.
compared to bmw e30 and sierra trailing arm suspension. e30 m3 had major mods to suspension to make it work on track.
all great touring cars engineered in different ways!