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Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty

File Number: 82F171
ER Classics Desktop 2022

After a development period of eight years, Mercedes-Benz presented the new and rather compact Mercedes-Benz 8 on December 1982, 190. The 201 series became the new Baby-Benz. Daimler-Benz AG had experimented with this phenomenon before, but it never led to series production. During the early 190s, however, the time was ripe for a new, smaller model from Das Haus. And that became the completely newly developed Mercedes-Benz XNUMX.


With the newcomer, Mercedes-Benz introduced a new design philosophy. The classic shapes were given an aerodynamic touch, and in fact this was also the first Mercedes-Benz where chrome parts were largely omitted. A distinctive detail was also the large single windscreen wiper, which worked extremely effectively. A masterpiece was the new multi-link rear axle, which debuted on the Baby-Benz. That was a technical tour de force in which five separate rods per rear wheel and attached to a subframe ensured an optimal wheel position, simply put. The front axle was simpler in cut, but worked well with the rear axle. Mercedes-Benz installed a torsion stabilizer both at the front and at the rear.


Expansion of the factory in Sebaldsbrück

For the production of the new Mercedes-Benz, Daimler-Benz opened a new factory in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, the place where, for example, the T-Modell of the 123 series was also produced. The arrival of the new 190 (Baureihe 201) not only resulted in new construction, but also provided a tremendous boost to employment.

New diesel engine

The Mercedes-Benz W201 came on the market with four-cylinder petrol variants. These initially got the two-liter M102 engines (with and without injection) in the front. The diesel version made its appearance in the autumn of 1983. It received the newly developed encapsulated OM601 engine, which became available in two and 2.2 liter capacities. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz launched the 190 E 2.3-16, the top model at the time, about which you can read more below. More versions followed in the course of the eighties, such as the 190 D 2.5 (with five-speed gearbox and the five-cylinder OM 602 engine, which was good for 90 DIN hp)), the 190 E 2.3 with 100 kW and the 190 E 2.6 with a 122 kW in-line six-cylinder engine (M 103). The 190 D 2.5 was later delivered in a turbo version with 122 DIN hp and a standard four-speed automatic.

Top quality

The new Benz was not cheap, but it paved the way for many motorists in this class to the Mercedes-Benz dealer. That trust was amply rewarded, because there was almost no quality measure on the 190, regardless of whether it was a diesel or a petrol version. The combination of the new driving dynamics for Mercedes-Benz concepts and the extremely solid construction offered enough solace for many to sign the order form for a new 190. Those who wanted to flavor the car could traditionally choose from a huge number of options. The Mercedes-Benz 190 was steadily developed. The petrol versions were also available with a catalytic converter or catalytic converter from the mid-190s. Furthermore, the 2.6 103 appeared with the beautiful six-cylinder MXNUMX engine.

Sporty versions, XNUMX-valves

Mercedes-Benz also did not leave the 190 untouched in the sporting field. The 190 E 2.3-16 debuted at the IAA in Frankfurt. This version received the 2.3 M102 engine with four valves per cylinder and an output of 185 DIN hp. The cylinder head for this engine was developed in collaboration with Cosworth. The top model immediately set a world record in the race version by blasting over the Nardo circuit for 50.000 kilometers at an average speed of 247,94 km/h. The 2.5-16 (launched in 1987) finally replaced the 1988-2.3 from 16. This was introduced in 1983 and, like its successor, had a cylinder head with four valves per cylinder, developed in collaboration with Cosworth. The later 2.5 16V Evo I and II versions (both built 502 times) were the most feisty and thickly executed four-cylinder versions. Striking: the Evo's had a different bore and stroke than the regular 2.5 16V versions. The Evo II was also recognizable by the thick cake server on the stern.

DTM success

The 190 3.2 AMG was the most spirited and most heavily motorized version of the W201 series. The 190 was also visible in the DTM, to say the least. Because Mercedes-Benz won with the DTM version (based on the 2.5-16 Evo) of the 190 no fewer than sixteen of the 24 races in the 1992 DTM season. three.

More versions, also special versions

At the other end of the spectrum, the tax-advantaged 190 E 1.8 . for (among others) the Netherlands came Plan-Oort version on the market. At that time, the 190 had already had the first (careful) facelift, and that series was recognizable by the Sacco-Bretter: wide moldings that were mounted at the bottom of the flanks. Special models appeared regularly, such as the Azzurro, the Rosso and the Avantgarde Verde (a special 190 D 2.5). Mercedes-Benz also experimented with the 90 with an electric powertrain during the 190s, while a prototype convertible version was also shown in 1989.

Car for life

Of course: there is much, much and much more to tell about the first middle class (or for Mercedes terms: small) Benz, which you can't believe the age of almost forty. In December, he will enter his fifth decade. But he deserves to be put in the spotlight. Because Mercedes-Benz took new, more dynamic roads with this car without losing the core values ​​of yesteryear. And built a car, which, thanks to various versions, reached a wide audience. From economy rider to performance bully, there was a W201 for every candidate. And those who invested in it received an unimaginably well-built car for life.

Built almost 1,9 million times

The Mercedes-Benz 190 W201 became a monument in automotive history, having been built 1.879.629 times. In August 1993, the 190 was succeeded by the Baureihe 202. And that was the first Benz to be marketed as a C-Class. The Mercedes-Benz 190 therefore went out of production, but did not disappear from the streets for a long time. He was far too well built for that. And that's why you still come across one regularly.

Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty

17 Comments

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  1. Unfortunately poor quality, the poor mans Benz.
    As well as the smart. But a star that was previously unattainable….

  2. A well-equipped car indeed. When the 200D was replaced by a 190D at work at our work, The Hague Police, it turned out that the latter was not equipped with power steering and that was noticeable when used in the city. The car was also very cramped, you could hardly sit in the back, let alone cram a detainee against his will. But compared to the 200D, the car was a lot faster, a lot more direct and, despite the rough use the car was subjected to, quite solid. A beautiful car that you still see regularly. Encountered several times in Germany last week.

  3. A fantastic car. In 1984 I traded in my 380 SE (W126) for a 190E. (A slogan I used from the life insurers: “A pension shouldn't be half) I built around half a Mercedes is better than half a pension. (380 SE : 2 = 190E). After I had recovered the worst costs of my new house after 2 years, the 190 E moved with 80.000 KM to my wife and due to the fact that I was going to drive more than 50.000 KM per year professionally, a 300 DW 124 in the place that in 1994, so 8 years later with a KM reading of almost 500.000 KM, made way for an S 350 Turbo Diesel W140 that is now in my collection and with 380.000 KM will make a 12-week trip through Italy next month. Boss and car are currently enjoying their retirement. After this story you will understand that no other brand enters the household with us.

  4. In the 80s we built 2-door convertibles and coupes here in Elburg, and a 3-door version in the dimensions of the vw-golf 1, as a mini-benz for the city.
    I do have pictures of this if interested.

  5. Derived from this, the W124 came on the market a year later, which offered a little more space and also had such a top quality. This is mine, a 250 1985D automatic, two years ago. He still drives every day, at 37 years old.

  6. The BabyBenzo was also quite popular here in the US, despite the fact that it was also quite expensive here…. when I looked at the order forms for my old 2.6 from 1993 (I bought it in 2003) it showed an amount of well over $40000 which was quite a lot for that year, a Toyota Camry V6 was for sale for a lot less than half that. Quality at its best with the Benz, what you took out, you put back in the same way. I found that windshield wiper quite annoying because it invariably left streaks in the shape of a chocolate letter M. Sold after four years and more than 80000 miles more when emission-related parts kept giving up. The Subaru Outback that replaced it was actually a lot better and certainly more reliable.

  7. Had a 190th for years, black metallic, 5 speed, leather, sunroof, lowered etc super car. Bought from Cor Heg, the 190 specialist in the time of the old-timers. Was the intention to build in a 6-cylinder diesel from the e series, Cor had already done a wonderful job, but unfortunately the abolition of the 25-year rule threw a spanner in the works. In the end the 190 had to make way for a 1966 Mustang Fastback V8 but what a beautiful car that 190.

  8. Ooooh youth sentiment!, thanks again!!
    It must have been 1982.
    CSR HAVO and I had to “vorlesen” a bit from the German teacher, Mr Hendrikx, who wore sandals all year round.
    “Fünf Finger an der Achse” was about the 190 with its special rear axle suspension and I was allowed to read that aloud.
    Secretly I would like to own such a 190 and then preferably in the 3.4/24v version.

    • That "kink" in the roof ensured that the airflow would run better, less resistance and, moreover, cleaning of the rear window. Very effective.

  9. Better known as "the construction worker Mercedes", because it seemed like every contractor drove around in a 190.
    Scanty model with not the best seats, but wonderful parking because you could turn the front wheels almost at right angles under the nose.
    This was the last in the line of 'deutsche Gründlichkeit' because successor C-class already rusted when you sneezed..
    Also the E-class from the years that followed could rot terribly..

    • Scarce indeed, but what was attached to it was beautifully conceived and applied. The successor C (my wife drove her C10 for 180 years) was also a very nice car. Successor E I know myself because I drove it for 20 years, 200D and E240, both driven over 300.000 km. After about 8 years, both had some rust around a wheel arch opening, but if you have that repaired shortly after discovery, there is nothing wrong. The costs of this were well covered by the low maintenance costs, after all nothing was broken on those cars. It won't come as a surprise that we still drive Mercedes; now also more than 10 years in an E350 and an S350. resp. 180.000 and 250.000 km on the clock and it remains a pleasure to drive.

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