Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 | PH Fleet

When I last wrote about the 190E in the winter it was about to go back on the road after a long andย wallet-bruising restorationย -ย and I was looking forward to getting behind the wheel for the first time in four years. The fact there's been radio silence since then indicates that things didn't go quite according to plan.

It was all so close.ย I'd arrangedย a time forย collection, paid the bill, sorted tax and insurance - even persuaded my dad to drive me the 50 miles from home toย Autoclass in Milton Keynes, the well-respected specialist whichย has looked after both the 2.5 and several other elderly Mercs for meย over the years.

Then at about 5:29 on the evening before D-Day the phone rang. It was Autoclass proprietor James Tait: the Merc had just been taken for its final road test and was sounding like a drunkenย firing squad under load, so the collection wasย delayedย until they could work out what was wrong with it.

Things escalated slowly as I got on with my summer. The Cosworth-developed 2.5-16 is pretty rare groove, so even finding parts like an ignition coil to swap out took a fair amount of time.ย Autoclass gradually worked through the obvious failure pointsย - including some of the obscure electrical borkage theย Cossie Mercsย areย known for - only to discover that none ofย itย cured the car. Meaning that the issue was almost certainly inside the engine, possibly a sticking valve. Could they take the cylinder head off?

Like a gambler trying to turn his last ยฃ5 into the mortgage payment, I didn'tย seem to have much choice at this point - short of stuffing and mounting the Merc in a display case. The good news was that the freshly removed head turned out to be fine. The considerably less good was clear evidence of scoring in the cylinder bores, which shouldn't have been causing the sometimes rough-running, but at least we'd found something that was definitely wrong.

So the engine has been removed and sent to a specialist for further diagnosis; it looks like it has already had an overbore so the critical question is whether it can manage another.ย Six months on I'm actually less close to getting my car than I was last time.ย I'm not blaming Autoclass for any of this: they know old Mercs as well as anyone. But obscure cars tend to have obscure problems.

I also definitely shouldn't have been so smug about the rising values of the Cosworth 190Es last time. There are going to be several more hefty bills before I'm reunitied with mine again.

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

Previous reports:

Mike's 190E awakens...

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (12) Join the discussion on the forum

  • dotgillingham 30 Sep 2019

    That sucks! I hope it's a (relatively) straightforward fix for you. I want to see some driving updates!

  • skylarking808 30 Sep 2019

    These things are sent to test us!

    Should be worth the effort. At least the garage appear to understand the cossie engine.

    My 2004 Merc daily is off the road presently; apparently they d'ont make the exhausts anymore grrrr.

  • Jex 30 Sep 2019

    How frustrating. I hope it gets sorted out quickly and not too expensively. I've always liked those - subtle performance and elegance.

  • pSyCoSiS 30 Sep 2019

    That's a lovely car.

    AutoClass look after my Mercs, more recently the 600 SEL and 500 SL, and I am pretty sure I saw this in there the last few times I visited!

    They really do know their old Mercs, but some of these rarer cars do throw up issues now and then which even the experts find difficult to resolve.

    My 600 will be going there in a few weeks, as it has developed a misfire and is cutting out. Just hope is isn't the dreaded (and expensive) engine wiring loom.

    Look forward to reading more about the Cosworth once it is back on the road.

  • Guvernator 30 Sep 2019

    I never knew PH had one of these in the fleet. My old man had one of these many moons ago, what a lovely car it was and dare I say it but I think I actually prefer these over it's contemporary E30 M3.

    Proper touring car pedigree, lovely rwd handling and a dogleg gearbox. I also think the engine in these was better than the S14 in the M3.

    My old man suffered a snapped timing chaining on his which was a weak point on the earlier cars if not done religiously on time. I don't remember the full details but even back then parts where hard to find, I remember him having to order parts from Germany and wait weeks for them to arrive. I think the final repair was in the thousands which back then was A LOT of money. Rare even then, I can imagine getting parts for them now must be like finding unicorn poo!

View all comments in the forums Make a comment