Our Bring a Trailer Auction Pick of the Day Is a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

There are very few 1980s Mercedes that I covet, but this one is one of them.

  • It's impossible to deny the cool factor of this 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16, which is currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer.
  • The car, which was built to meet the DTM touring-car homologation requirement, is powered by a 2.3-liter inline-four engine producing 167 horsepower and is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.
  • Bidding on the 130,000-mile Mercedes has reached $8100 thus far, with the auction scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, February 22.

Performance automobiles from the 1980s and 1990s are very trendy these days, and while I am not immune to fashion, I like to believe that my fondness for sporty automobiles from this era developed during my youth. However, there are very few Mercedes from this era for which I pine. While I lust after late-twentieth-century Mercedes, the two at the top of my youth wish list are the Porsche-engineered and -built 500E and this Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. Mercedes built it to compete in the DTM championship, and homologation cars have an unmatched cool factor. This example is currently available for auction on the Bring a Trailer website, which, like Car and Driver, is owned by Hearst Autos.


When the 2.3-16 was introduced in the mid-1980s, it was unlike any previous Mercedes sedan. As the name implies, it featured a high-revving 2.3-liter engine with 16 valves. To be sure, this was an era when four valves per cylinder were practically unheard of. Mercedes tapped the expertise of engine manufacturer Cosworth to supply the M102 engine's DOHC head design. It was prohibitively expensive at the time, costing more than twice as much as a Merkur XR4Ti. However, according to our March 1986 road test, it earned you class-leading performance in every metric except fuel economy.

This is a US-spec vehicle, which means it has a 167-horsepower engine, whereas European models have 185-horsepower engines. This is irrelevant to me because this car is primarily about the experience. Additionally, it is not flawless. The taillamps are not original, some trim on the rear parcel shelf is missing, and the sunroof does not work. It has an aftermarket Blaupunkt stereo that is meant to look vintage but falls short of the coolness of the factory-installed Becker Grand Prix head unit.

According to the seller's videos, this one appears to be mechanically sound with just enough flaws to avoid setting a record price. This is ideal for me because it would keep me occupied with the task of locating period-correct components. And it's not so pleasant that I'd be nervous or regret driving it. The first thing I'd do is replace all of the rubber in the suspension—make it feel brand new, even if it doesn't look brand new. That much I am certain of: whoever wins it will enjoy it.

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