In the last few years, now almost legendary BMW E30 M3 prices have been skyrocketing. If the prices keep on rising at this rate, the E30 M3 will have disappeared into the realm of unaffordable dreams. And here we come to its counterpart, eternal rival, the Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth. The Cosworth tuned Merc presents an excellent value in today’s classic car market, because the prices are still affordable.
The Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth made its first appearance at the Frankfurt motor show in September 1983 as a homologation special for the DTM touring car version. The 190E Cosworth was actually extremely successful in DTM racing. So successful, that BMW responded and gave their E30 the M badge. Yes, you read that right, without the 190E Cosworth the E30 M3 would have probably never existed. In the end, the E30 M3 proved to be the slightly better car, also managed to win more DTM races than the Merc.
Although the 190E looked great thanks to its subtle and well-executed body kit, its Cosworth-developed engine that made it truly special. It was based on the M102 4-cyl 2.3-liter 8V, but thanks to Cosworth’s engineering excellence, the new cylinder head improved its breathing and efficiency. In road going trim, the 2.3-liter 16V engine made 185hp (138 kW) at 6,200rpm and with 174 lb ft (236Nm) of torque at 4,500rpm. The acceleration 0–100 km/h (62 mph) was 7,8sec and the top speed was 230 km/h (143 mph).
Handling was also excellent, helped in no small way by a standard-fit limited slip differential. It was further improved in 1988 with the arrival of the 2.5-liter engine version with 200hp.
It is this model that car enthusiasts prefer today, given the better performance. Evolution I and II models gained wild aerodynamic spoilers, and more tuning options, and are worth considerably more today. But values continue to lag significantly compared to those of the legendary BMW E30 M3.