This identification / buyers guide has been drafted for those interested in the Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3 - 16 valve, otherwise known as the "Cosworth" Mercedes. These cars represent the highest spec 190E available between 1984 and 1988, prior to being superseded by the 2.5-16, and are considered by many to be a likely future classic car.

Although a reasonably large number of 2.3 - 16 190E’s were produced, they do command a premium price well above the standard 190E sedans on which they are based. As a result, it is important to be aware of the features which confirm a car is indeed a genuine 2.3 - 16 valve car, in order to make the right purchase decision.

This guide provides information with respect to the correct external features, interior features, paint colours / codes and of course the important chassis, engine number and gearbox number prefixes that you should be looking for on a 190E 2.3-16.

Period of Manufacture:

September 1984 – June 1988

Number produced:


Please note, this is only a guide and should not be relied on. You should always make your own enquiries and consult professionals when looking to purchase a car. This guide can always be added to and we would really appreciate it if anyone contacted us with further details to add to this guide. You can contact us with the button above, or leave a comment at the base of this page.

External Features - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

The 190E 2.3 - 16 had the following exterior features, which make a good starting point for the identification of a genuine original car. We note that this particular car is very similar in appearance to its standard 190E counterpart, and even moreso to the 2.5 - 16 car, and differentiating the vehicles can often be difficult at face value:

  • Aerodynamic front spoiler.
  • Tailgate spoiler and flanged rear lip under lower bumper.
  • Revised sports sideskirts.
  • “190E” badge on LHS bootlid and “2.3 - 16” badge on RHS bootlid (the only distinguishing feature from the 2.5 - 16).
  • Alloy 15” X 7” wheels, mounted originally with tires size 205/55/15. The part number is A2014001302 which should be cast inside the rims.
  • Optional headlight wipers / washers.
  • The 2.3-16 was 16mm lower at the front and 12mm lower at the back than the standard 190E.
  • Single exhaust exiting LHS rear.
  • Flared front amd rear mudguards / wheel arches.
Interior Features - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

The 190E 2.3 - 16 had the following interior features. Note, many of the interior options were also available on the standard 190E, and may therefore not be unique.

  • Two interior options including: Fabric / leather (Code: 051) or full leather (Code: 251).
  • Sport seats (height adjustable with optional electronic seat adjustment on door panel / card).
  • Leather steering wheel (available with airbag or without - see images for the different steering wheel types available, the varieties of which were shared amongst other Mercedes during the late 80's early 90's).
  • Optional sunroof.
  • Cluster includes rev counter, voltage gauge, oil temp gauge, oil pressure gauge, stopwatch and speedometer.
  • Headlight height adjustment switch.
  • Optional rear seat headrests.
  • OEM Becker radio.
Paint Colours / Codes - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

The 190E 2.3 - 16 was only available in two colours, as detailed below, with examples given in the attached images.

  • Blue-Black (Code: DB 199).
  • Smoke Silver (Code: DB 702).

To confirm the original colour for the car, you have to look at the embossed plate located on the bonnet slam panel (see image). The number that refers to the original colour of the car has been highlighted in the attached image. The other numbers on this plate refer to the options provided with the vehicle, which are detailed elsewhere on this page.

Chassis Number - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

The Chassis number on a Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 should begin with the following prefix:

WDB 201034

This will be followed by numbers indicating the cars specification:

1 = Left hand drive.
2 = Right hand drive.

A-E = Sindelfingen production plant.
F-H = Bremen production plant.

This is then followed by the cars individual / unique 6 digit number.

Example of a complete chassis number: 2010342F######


Location of Chassis Number:

The chassis number should appear in two locations, which should of course match. Firstly, the number appears on the chassis plate which sits on the bonnet slam panel (see attached images highlighting location). Secondly, the same number should be stamped on the bulkhead / firewall which divides the battery compartment from the engine bay, as shown in the images. Additionally, the initial prefix "201034" should appear on the embossed data plate (see location as shown in images).

Engine & Gearbox Number - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

Engine Number:

The engine number on a 190E 2.3 – 16 Cosworth should begin with the following prefix:


The engine number is located on a flat area of the engine block, as you look down between the distributor and intake manifold. See images for a better description.


Gearbox Number:

The Gearbox Number on a 190E 2.3 – 16 Cosworth should begin with the following prefix:

201 260 04 01 717 404 

This number should be stamped into a flat plate area, on the opposite side to the “GETRAG” casting, as shown in the attached images. This gearbox number is the same on all 16 valve 190E's, including the evolution models.

Mechanical Features - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

The Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 had the following original mechanical features:

  • 2.3L twin cam 16 valve 4 cylinder engine developed by Cosworth.
  • Diff ratio 3.07:1.
  • Limited slip differential, until 1987.
  • ASD (hydraulically controlled LSD) from 1987.
  • Sports suspension, sports springs and dampers.
  • All independant suspension with Self-leveling rear suspension.
  • Power steering.
  • 15" X 7" wheels with 205/55 VR 15 tyres.
  • 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission.
  • Four wheel disc brakes (front: 284mm vented discs / rear: 258mm non vented discs).
  • Distinct engine valve covers stating "2.3 - 16" next to oil fill point.
Options and Codes - Mercedes 190E 2.3 - 16 Valve Cosworth

There were a large number of options available on the 190E 2.3 - 16, and the majority of options available on the car (including codes) are outlined below. These codes are located on the plate screwed to the bonnet slam panel, as shown in the images. A small sample of these options are given in the images.

  • Headlight washers / wipers (600).
  • Battery with higher capacity (673).
  • Speakers back (812).
  • Electrically heated seats (L 870, R 871).
  • Interior light back seat (876).
  • Electric adjustable sunroof (410/ 412).
  • Automatic transmission (420).
  • Headrests backseat (430).
  • Cruise control (Tempomat) (440).
  • Driver airbag (442).
  • Central door locking system (466).
  • ABS (470).
  • Automatic height adustment (489).
  • Electric adjustable mirror passenger side (504).
  • Electrical front seat adjustment (L 221, R 222).
  • Outside temperature measure (240).
  • Electrical front seat adjustment w. memory (L 241, R 242).
  • Full leather seats (251).
  • Electric adjustable and heated mirror passenger side (506).
  • Automatic aerial (531, 532).
  • Airconditioning (580).
  • Electric adjustable windows front (583).
  • Electric adjustable windows front and back (584).
  • Tinted glass (591).