View Full Version : 1983–1993 Mercedes-Benz 190

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08-31-2009, 03:22 PM
1983–1993 Mercedes-Benz 190

Here’s the dilemma: Only so many people can afford an expensive luxury car, but to remain profitable it’s necessary for a luxury car manufacturer to sell as many as possible. To get around this catch-22, Mercedes-Benz decided in the early 1980s to design what became known as the “Baby Benz” to cast a wider net and help bring in more paying customers. The result was the lamentable 190-Series—a Mercedes for people who can’t afford a Mercedes.

The car continues to evoke snorts of contempt from appalled cognoscenti of the three-pointed star. Own one and you’ll know how the guy who owns a 1978 Mustang King Cobra feels at classic Mustang meets.

The four-cylinder-powered 190 didn’t offer much to recommend it as a premium car. It was small, and with only 90 horsepower at first, it was hardly stronger than other economy compacts of its day. When Mercedes upgraded the cars to fuel injection—denoted by the “E” for Einspritz in the model designation—things improved somewhat. But even then, 122 horsepower was about what GM’s small V-6s were whelping out in the mid-1980s.

In its favor, at least the 190s were rear-wheel-drive—one of the few areas of real difference between the 190 and other low-renters of the time. Later models got better in terms of their performance, and a few V-6 variants even tickled the 200-horsepower mark. But sub-par (for Mercedes) build quality, so-so engineering, and ticky-tacky interior bits remained constant problems throughout the car’s 11-year product life; and those were definitely “dog years.” Worn camshafts, oil leaks, and premature rust were among the more significant mechanical complaints.

Mercedes seemed more than a little relieved when it was time to “put down” the 190, which was replaced by the much better C-Class models that remain in production to this day.

The 190 episode is hardly mentioned in the company’s literature. Like that other unfortunate period between 1939 and 1945, the years of the 190’s production are a time the German automaker prefers not to talk about.

08-31-2009, 11:21 PM
1983 Benz 190 from Jay Leno's Garage.......



08-31-2009, 11:22 PM
1993 Benz 190


09-01-2009, 07:13 AM
Nearly bought one in 1990 new. Tourist Delivery in Europe. Why didn't I because there was a 10 week wait for a 2.5Diesel Right steer. And the only colour they could offer was beige..... as are all taxis in Germany.
Volvo won the day.

Dave Brand
09-01-2009, 08:18 AM
I drove a 190E on a business trip to Germany; came across to me as a very good car. Problem is, in English-speaking countries Mercedes has a premium image; elsewhere in Europe they are taxis!

The Cosworth 190 was a whole 'nother kettle of fish!