Mercedes 190e Cosworth – My M3 Killer


Well, hello there. I’m going to tell you a story of true love. I think by now that we all know how painful love is. You can’t have love without hate. Sometimes a deep, deep hatred  to the point of wanting to lobotomize yourself just to make you forget how painful love is. That’s not just me, right?  Well the only thing that makes me feel the rollercoaster of love more than anything, is my baby, my 1987 Mercedes 190e 2.3 16v Cosworth. Let me tell you about this car. This car is the best. This car is the worst. This car is the only reason that the winner of last year’s eEuroparts Love Stories had his car. If this beautiful piece of machinery was never produced, BMW would have never been scared enough to make the comparatively unreasonably famous M3.

Mercedes 190e Cosworth Side ViewMy cossie is 1 of 751 that were imported to America in 1987, with only 1,202 imported the year before. So just under 2,000 were ever imported to the U.S, besides all they grey market cars from years prior. This is one of the reason I’m in love. Not because it’s rarer than any of your generic mass produced cars that you’re driving in, rather that it has so much character. Character is what makes your car awesome. The character gives it a soul, and a car’s soul is the true value. Mercedes 190 Cosworth

I don’t care how fast your car is, how much you paid for it, whatever build you’re doing, I care about its soul. I care about your relationship with what should be, the other half of yourself. Although the Merc will leave me stranded sometimes, I will never abandon her. I will put weeks and weeks into her, trying to get her just right, and then after a few days of driving, will be right back where I started. Guess what? Those few days make it so worth it.

Figure out she’s a she yet? Well, she is. Let’s talk about the beginning of  my relationship with her. It all started back when my 1990 190e 2.6 was tragically killed right in front of my poor, now feeble eyes. Some very old lady pulled right in front of me when I was going +60mph. Totaled. Just like that, my high school sweet heart was gone. However, luckily, life moves on and I found my life long soul mate, my cossie.

Months after the wreck, I had my insurance money, and some income tax money and was able to buy not only my new girl, but have enough left over to ship her from California all the way to Florida. At the ripe old age of 19, I found the car that I’m going to have for the rest of my life, my wife. The sad thing is I was pretty hard on her at first, she was who taught me how to drive stick, right off the shipping truck.

Interestingly enough, the 190e Cosworth has a Getrag dogleg transmission. Most people find it very strange. For me though, anything else is strange. It’s what I learned how to drive stick on, so it just feels natural. The Cossie was designed for DTM, so the most functional shift pattern would be to have 2nd and 3rd able to bang from one to the other in the quickest succession. Even if you’re not racing, just city driving, I still find it more beneficial because 2nd and 3rd are used so much. I love it.

(editors note: A dogleg transmission shift pattern is where 1st is directly under reverse, and the 1st to 2nd shift is up and over.  This moves the 2nd and 3rd gear to be right above and below each other, which is much more useful in sporty driving since you go between 2nd and 3rd far more often then 1st to 2nd)

Unfortunately my shifter is older than myself, and its appearance makes it evident. Another cool thing that Mercedes did for the Cosworth is include an oil temp gauge, a lap timer, and a voltage meter which can be seen in the picture.

Here we are four years into our existence together, and we both have learned a lot. I may have been an abusive partner at the beginning, but she taught me to be gentle, hell, she taught me how to love. Aggression gets you nowhere, it will actually put you behind. That’s the main thing she taught me so far, the turtle always wins the race. I’m pretty sure I taught her determination and to not care about what people think of her.

She isn’t as pretty as the first day we laid eyes on each other, she might have a few more dents, maybe missing a few panels, and her parts might be hurting due to her mature age. This means nothing to her anymore, she just cares about the one person who loves her most and that’s why she continually gets stronger, faster, and better.

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4 thoughts on “Mercedes 190e Cosworth – My M3 Killer
  1. Robert

    Guess it never crossed paths with a 1984 Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0. As a owner of several mercedes, I have a love and respect for the make. However for this type of car, I must say Alfa would leave the 190 viewing fading tail lamps.

  2. Still the only M-B I ever really wanted. I almost got one. Back in 2001. Don’t remember if it was an ’86 or an ’87. Smoke Silver, the only other color they came in here in the States.
    My beloved 944 was just totaled almost the same way that his 2.6 was, except by a 16 yr old girl, not an old lady. I saw this baby Benz sitting on a local European specialist’s lot and instantly noticed the subtle ground effects and not so subtle wing. I had to check it out. I saw a badge: 2.3-16. I had hear M-B had made these and it was the first one I had ever seen. The guy at the shop asked me if I wanted to take it for a test drive. I said yeah and he flipped me the keys. I asked if he wanted my wallet or something to hold. He said he knew me from the Auto Parts store I worked at and said to take it for as long as I wanted. I took it for a 45 minute test drive along the twisty back roads in my area. I was in love. It was one of the most satisfying cars I had ever driven. A bit more body roll than I had liked, but fully expected of a Benz from that era. It stayed planted though. Loved the dog-leg gearbox. (My 928 had one too and I found it to be the most useful gear change pattern ever.) Alas it was not to be. We were about $750.00 apart and I didn’t want to borrow any money. The car had some needs: sloppy shift linkage, rotted first aid kit cover and a few other things that I would have to fix. I was maxed out already. So I walked away. I have regretted it ever since. Shoulda borrowed a few bucks and sealed the deal.

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