For $17,500, Could This 1987 Mercedes 190 Cosworth 2.3 16v Be a Cos You Could Get Behind?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

While today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercedes 190 Cosworth may not be quick by modern standards, it sure will look cool doing what it can. If it’s price does it too then you might just say its worth buying. You know, just be-Cos.

Why rock down to Electric Avenue when you can drive? That seemed to be the consensus yesterday as our rare 1999 Ford Ranger EV took home a well-earned 67 percent Nice Price win. Despite a dead battery cell—with its replacement it should be noted—that Ranger should prove to be pretty much plug and play. Still, it might not be all that engaging of a playmate, but what about one that is, albeit one that might be unplug and pray?


Here we have a 1987 Mercedes Benz 190 Cosworth 2.3 16v. Now, there are just a few venerated names connected with engines that simply make my little arm-hairs stand up to attention. Among those ayou can count Coventry Climax, BRM, and, as with this Benz, Cosworth. Because of that, I’ve always loved the little 190 Cossie.

These cars came about because Mercedes wanted a hot head for their M102 engine so they could go play in the DTM series. The company commissioned Cosworth, then just a few short years past the whole Vega debacle, and they designed the deep-breathing four-valve per cylinder head for the Germans. What resulted was a 185-horsepower four that sadly upon launch was already outclassed by Audi’s turbocharged and AWD Quattro contenders. Scheiße!

Here in America we got a slightly detuned edition of the Cosworth M102, with a lower compression ratio and only 165-bhp on tap. Still, it came with a dogleg five-speed just like the racers used so zoom zoom muthafuka, right?


This ’87 example looks to have some of that zoominess still intact, and there’s claim of a ton of work and parts that have gone into it. There’s also a few problems.


Let’s start with the good stuff. The body looks to be rust free and the champagne paint seems to hold a shine. The trim is intact and the U.S. headlights have been switched out for the flush Euro market units, improving the looks immensely. Inside, the sport seats look inviting as does the wood trimmed dash. A period-correct Becker head unit sets the old school mood here, as does the strictly functional instrument layout. The car could use a good modern vacuuming, however.


There’s a new windshield ahead of that dash, and Mercedes wonderful sawing single wiper still in front of that. Other new parts include engine and transmission mounts, rear shocks, HVAC fan, speedo cable and battery. There’s more, but you get the picture.

On the down side, the 157,000 mile Merc has an out-of-round EVO wheel (WTF?), an electrical drain issue that the seller claims is connected to the power seats, and a cold start problem that required some sort of magic bypass to correct like it’s Apollo 13 or something. Other niggling issues include some paint imperfections, a cracked spoiler (a new one comes with the car but must be painted), and cruise control that does neither.


We all know that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than the other way around. There’s no getting around the fact that the Mercedes 190 Cossie is, by today’s standards, a slow car. That doesn’t mean this one wouldn’t be a ball to drive, and it would look pretty badass doing it.


It should also be pointed out that even Mercedes considers the W201 to have been wildly over-engineered so expect the underlying car to be a good base for any future resto work or just hanging around and looking cool.


The price here is $17,500 and if you think that’s a lot just take a look at the prices of its contemporary BMW E30 M3s and then reconsider the Benz. Actually, all you need to do is weigh in on that in the voting below, as the polls are now open!

What’s your take on this 190 Cossie with its plusses and minuses for that $17,500? Does that make this a Cos that fits the bill? Or, is that too much for a car with too many little issues—death from a thousand cuts as it were?


You decide!


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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.