Monday, October 10, 2016

Unholy Matrimony- 1985 Mercedes 190e SR20det swap

The Mercedes Cosworth 190e 16v successfully competed alongside the famed E30 M3 in 1980's DTM events.  According to James May from Top Gear, former F1 driver Martin Brundle is to have said that the 190e, “had one of the best chassis ever fitted to a four-door saloon.” The USA spec Mercedes 190e was available with multiple different gas and diesel engines though none of them are particularly easy to modify for more power (superturbodiesels excluded).  Find this 1985 190e for sale in Greenfield, WI for $6,000 via Craigslist.

The seller of this 190e has created his own solution by adding a more powerful SR20det red top engine and 5 speed transmission to the w201 chassis.  The Nissan sr20det is a hugely popular Nissan four cylinder engine found (with or without turbo) in many cars such as the 240sx, Sentra SE-R, GTI-R, and Infiniti G20.  The engine came stock with just over 200hp and matching torque specs.  It is not difficult to double the stock power output on these engines though this one is said to be stock other than the top mount turbo and side exit exhaust.

This 190e is a track focused build that lives without such niceties as heating and cooling inside the cabin.  The 50,000km engine was sourced from JDM Source and was swapped in by the seller.  The heady list of upgrades include: Hedgehog race polyurethane bushings, Yellowspeed coilovers, Walbro fuel pump, SR20 Top mount turbo manifold (Isis cast iron), side (fender exit exhaust), Tial wastegate, HKS BOV, ISIS 3 core aluminum radiator, NRG race seat, Sparco harness, custom driveshaft, welded differential, battery relocated to back seat, stripped interior, 4 piston brakes in front and 2 piston brakes in rear, manual boost controller (HBC), Bee-R Rev Limiter, AEM AFR Gauge, and authentic AMG body kit.

The car was involved in a mishap at the track where the front bumper was damaged.  A spare bumper is included with the sale and the AMG lip was off the car at the time of the incident.  The car has been mechanically reliable in the four trips to the track to date.  The next owner may want to tidy up the low hanging intercooler piping!

See a crazier Japanese powered German car email

Cory is very close to being finished with his 1995 Mercedes E36 wagon and preparing to start in on a 1991 Mercedes E36 coupe.


  1. I have a 1991 190E with the 2.6 I6 engine and love the solid feel of the car even after about 125 k miles. There are only two things I don't like: it needs LSD and a stick (5 speed). great handling except on wet or icy roads.

  2. "Former F1 driver Martin Brundle is famously to have said that the 190e, 'had one of the best chassis ever fitted to a four-door saloon.'”

    Did Martin Brundle actually say this about the 190, or is this just something James May invented in an effort to win a challenge on Top Gear, Series 15, episode 2? I seem to recall that May claimed Brundle had said this, and when Jeremy called Martin Brundle on his cell phone to confirm it, James took the phone away from Jeremy so he couldn't hear Brundle refuting this statement. I seem to recall that Brundle said he didn't remember saying this about the 190 series.


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