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Mercedes 190D 2.5

SOLD July 16th, 2005. Coincidentally I bought it on July 16th, 1993. This page is an historical record of what I posted when it was for sale.

Mercedes 190D

Ken Rockwell's Mercedes 190D 2.5 Sedan, November, 2004. Click to enlarge.

June 11th, 2005. Click to enlarge.

Skip to Original Specifications

Skip to General Information

Color: Black pearl metallic. Grey MB-tex interior and sheepskins.

Factory-Installed Extra-Cost Options:

    Anti-theft alarm system including coded radio ($500 MSRP)

    Electric sliding sunroof (N/C)

    Metallic paint ($380 MSRP)

    California Diesel Emissions Warranty ($350)

Price: $8,700. details.

Condition: Fanatical, garaged day and night. Was in storage 1995 - 2004. details.

Free 24 Hour Roadside Assistance: As we Mercedes owners know, this and every Mercedes includes lifetime roadside assistance. Not only that, but at 1-800-FOR-MERCedes you get real help from skilled people who genuinely can help you or send out a skilled mechanic if needed at any hour, not just some operator to dispatch a generic tow truck. This service works: I've never been stuck in this car, but in 1992 my 1984 Mercedes wouldn't start when I was at a barren rest stop on I-40 30 miles outside of Winslow, Arizona (the middle of the desert). Mercedes sent a real Mercedes mechanic from hours away in his Mercedes wagon who fixed the problem, free. Don't confuse this with the limited programs from Lexus or BMW; see 1-800-FOR-MERCedes for details. They also can give detailed information about anything if you're as technical and curious as I am. I've also had them locate an open tire repair place who could work on my high-performance tires when I had TWO flats the same day in my SL500 while stuck out in Palm Desert, CA on a Sunday after 5PM. Mercedes has the best support program; just ask anyone who's used it.

EPA MPG: 30 city, 34 highway as you can read here. This is the most efficient automobile ever made by Mercedes-Benz. I log 37 MPG on the open freeway; my best tankful has been 42 MPG. I can get to Phoenix or Las Vegas in quiet comfort on less than 10 gallons of fuel. It's exempt from California smog checks because it's an alternative-fuel vehicle. Thank you for saving our environment! It runs on ordinary Diesel fuel, available everywhere often for less than regular gasoline when you learn to look for it. I get 30 MPG or so around town, agreeing with the EPA. This isn't your dad's crappy 1970s Diesel: it has over 60% of the horsepower of a huge military HMMWV Hummer H1, which also runs on Diesel.

Fuel prices in San Diego, May, 2005. Diesel was 10 to 22 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline, and remember other Mercedes, BMW and Lexus run on premium, not regular. Prices of course vary with time as the taxes and regulations change from season to season. Local Diesel drivers asked me where these were:

1.) Circle-K (76) on El Camino Real just north of La Costa Bl
2.) Mobil on La Jolla Village Drive at Gilman, and
3.) 76 on west side of El Camino Real in Encinitas between Encinitas Bl and Leucadia Bl. I usually fill up at #3. Stations 1.) and 3.) are usually good; that Mobil usually is expensive as you can see.

Real cheapskates will seek out commercial fueling stations which have better prices than neighborhood pumps. With the 190D you have this choice that you don't have with ordinary cars.

Taking price variation into account above, fuel costs to run this 190D are the same as a car with 34 MPG city, 39MPG highway that needs premium. Getting 37 MPG for Diesel on the open freeway costs the same as getting 42 MPG on premium, and these are the real numbers I get, not the inflated Prius numbers no one really gets. Remember the Prius has batteries that will need to be replaced costing around $4,000, too, and who wants to be seen in a Prius anyway?

Better still, you'll only have to fill up twice in the same distance you would have filled up three times with a gasoline engine. Saving all the mess and time of stopping for fuel is more important to me than the price.



Emergency Tensioning Retractors (ETRs) for both passenger and driver. ETRs are explosive charges in the doors which snug down the seatbelts to hold you in your seat in case of frontal collision.

Of course the usual Mercedes over-design for crumple zones, four-wheel disc brakes, extra sturdy seats, side intrusion bars in the doors, etc. The seats saved me in a rear collision I had in my 1984 190D. Some idiot drove into the back of my 1984 190D at 35 MPH and totaled the car, making it a foot shorter. I hardly felt the impact, and the seat didn't break and let me flip backwards like it would have in an ordinary car. Even the inflated spare tire in the trunk is designed to absorb the force of a rear impact, something a miniature spare couldn't have done. I could be in a wheelchair with a broken spine if it hadn't have been for the features that never make it into a sales brochure; twelve airbags in a new Lexus can't do anything for a rear collision!

Full Size Spare Tire

The full size spare is on an original matching wheel. Feel free to do a five-tire rotation.

Why Sell It?    back to top of page

I got married last month and my new bride wants a newer car. Great. It's going to cost us at least $30,000 to get something I like as much. Even a new 2006 Lexus GS430 ($60,000) feels like mush compared to the precise and nimble handling of this Mercedes, especially since I just put on a new set of Michelin's newest and most expensive tires 2,500 miles ago before I had any inkling I'd possibly be selling it (or married). We're probably going to get a BMW 540 instead.

I put up this website some time ago as a tribute to my 190D long before I got married, so you'll have to forgive me if I glow a little too much in all the details.

June 11th, 2005. Click to enlarge.

Condition: Fanatical    back to top of page

I've had this sedan forever and love it to death. I've got all the records and paperwork, including the original factory quality control sign-off and demonstration tape for the stereo, etc. It came from Mercedes-Benz of Escondido, a San Diego, California suburb. I even have a copy of the window sticker information.


It's garaged day and night between my Mercedes SL500 and my BMW here in San Diego. We don't get rust here. The SL500 only has 25,000 miles on it and my 1977 BMW only has 19,000 miles on it after almost 30 years. We take care of our cars. I've spared no expense taking care of my 190D and have complete service records and even a logbook. I have at least the past ten years worth of fuel receipts. The tires still have 85,000 miles (!) left under warranty and I had planned to use all of those; if I had any inkling I'd be selling it would have gotten cheaper Michelins, Pirellis, Goodyears or Continentals for which everyone else settles. I've kept it under continuous restoration and looking new and ready for decades of more pleasure and fuel economy.


I've never used it for commuting or left it outside, thus it drives me nuts when looking for new cars since it's in better shape than anything more than a couple of years old. I took my bicycle last time I had an office job. I had a company car from 1995 - 2004 so the 190D sat unused under a cover in my garage, taken out every month or two to keep the battery charged and all the accessories healthy.

Keys, Manuals and etc.

I have all the keys: I have two master keys, the valet key, the still unwrapped spare wallet key and a spare duplicate wallet key. I always carry the wallet key in my wallet in case I lose my keys or lock them in the car (which you have to go out of your way to do). Contrast this to the 2003 BMW 540i my wife made me buy for over $46,000 last week for which I still haven't gotten the dealer to provide me with the valet key or demonstration CD or even the owner's manuals. I have all that for this 190D.


If you haven't been out to California to see how cars that have always been indoors and never in the snow look you're in for a surprise. We don't even know what rust is out here, which never dawned on me till people outside California started asking me about it. Even I get surprised when I see how it looks with new wax on it. It looks better than new American cars look today, without the usual orange-peel paint irregularities. I wonder if anyone makes paint this good anymore? With modern environmental regulations it may no longer be possible to do paint this well. It's all original.


All original paint, wheels, upholstery, body and everything. Never any collisions or repair. Numbers match on all body panels.

It's as it left the factory, never modified or altered except for:

1.) Upgraded German standard H4 flush headlights, complete with dashboard aiming height control. I put these on for much better and safer lighting, especially on low beam. Most people put these on because they make the car look like a current model compared to the original ugly USA-standard sealed-beam headlights. I have the originals for you, too. In 1988 the H4 headlights weren't yet DOT approved and the US models got ugly sealed-beam abortions; today H4 is DOT approved and are standard on most every European and Japanese car worldwide.

2.) The air conditioning system has been updated from outdated freon to modern R-134a. I replaced the compressor in October 2004, 4,000 miles ago.

Mercedes 190D r134a retrofit

Under-hood sticker letting service people know the old freon system is gone. Other 1988 cars can't easily be serviced since freon is no longer readily available. No problem keeping the a/c working great with this modern factory retrofit.

June 11th, 2005. Click to enlarge.

The airflow is so efficient that even after 155,000 miles the engine compartment is still clean without ever having been washed. Air flows freely and the ingenious design of the grille deflects particulate matter from entering the engine compartment.

Mercedes 190D engine

The engine has never been cleaned or needed it. This is the way it always looks. It was not driven during the San Diego fires of October 2003, in fact, it wasn't really driven at all between 1995 and 2004. Click for bigger image. Photo: May 2005.

This car has even been commented on by my fans in Germany here (in German, of course). As one said, "bestimmt kein ordinäres Schaffell. Wahrscheinlich ist es von tibetanischen Hochlandschafen bei Vollmond geschoren worden," which loosely translated means "No common sheep skins for Rockwell. They probably were sheared by Tibetan monks from highland sheep under the full moon." Well, honestly they came from SuperLamb on Miramar Road in San Diego, but I won't spoil their fun.

Window Sticker

Mercedes 190D sticker

Mileage:    back to top of page

155,555 miles as of June 21st, 2005. I just sent in the paperwork to Mercedes who is sending me an award for reaching 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles.) When Mercedes-Benz of San Diego signed off on the award application the service guy told me he has one lady coming in with 400,000 miles on her car, all original, and another guy with close to a million miles (1,600,000 km). I can't warrant that you'll be able to take that good care of it and can't warrent that it won't explode a day after you get it, but ask anyone who knows these cars how long they last when serviced properly. (Actually it's not likely to explode: unlike gasoline, Diesel fuel doesn't burn even if you drop a match into it. Diesel has to be vaporized and compressed in a cylinder to burn.)

I have paperwork for every service. Oddly for the first 75,000 miles the center stoplight used to burn out every few years, but never again in 13 years. I replaced it, along with all the other exterior bulbs, preemptively last year. I had been planning to keep this forever until I got married and was told otherwise. Let's face it, does anyone ever sell a new-looking, perfect-running, efficient, luxurious, practical car except when something drastic like a death, marriage or birth occurs? Of course not.

Of course it's so durable that here's a report by one nutcase who gerry-rigged a beater 190D with a quarter-million miles already on it and drove across the Sahara Desert! That was one of the many cheap European models lacking all the luxury features we take for granted in the USA.

Service History    back to top of page

It came from Mercedes-Benz of Escondido (a San Diego suburb) where it was serviced its first 5 years. I've serviced at my local independent dealer ever since. I have a file full of folders with all the documentation for it's past 16-plus years.

The history books claim that there were no Mercedes Diesels available in California in 1988. Well not only do I have the paperwork to show it was bought new here in San Diego, here's the sticker under the hood certifying it as meeting California emissions requirements. It's exempt from California smog checks because it is an alternative-fuel vehicle. Thank you for saving our environment! The Toyota Prius runs on gas and still requires you to screw with wasting your time for smog checks as far as I know.

1988 Mercedes 190D California emissions

Everything is repaired as needed, or even if not needed. For instance I had the shifter bushings all replaced in 1994 so the console shifter feels tight, even though the service manager didn't think I should bother. It was a lot of labor to change out a 30 cent part. Anything worn is replaced, for instance, I replaced the insulating pad under the hood in 1997 simply because it was starting to look shabby. The hood ornament and grille medallion were replaced in 1993. Trim and locks are stainless steel or aluminum, not painted or chromed plastic.

I replaced every exterior bulb in 2004 just because I found all the good made-in-Germany bulbs at my dealer. That cost me about $60 in parts!

Here's a summary for the past year and a half since I put it back into regular service in February 2004. I have all the other previous records and fuel receipts for you; I'm just too lazy to type them all out.

146,001 miles, April 7th 2004: regular service, also replaced hydraulic hood lifts. $147.00 total.

148,556 miles, August 26th 2004: I replaced the passenger-side console-mounted window switches. I think the part was about $96.

151,582 miles, October 17th, 2004: major service, also replaced the A/C compressor. $1,536.63 total.

153,225 miles, March 11th, 2005: replaced all four tires with the Michelin's best and most expensive HydroEdge. $495.20 total. (185/65R15 86T, 44PSI max., UTQG 760 A B 856 revs/mile.) Warranted for 90,000 miles at Costco including road hazards. The receipt's in the glove box for you if you have any problems; Costcos are all over, and these tires are warranted till 243,225 miles. Good luck! I also touched up the paint on the rims, although any blemishes were so minor they're invisible in the photos from last fall.

154,208 miles, April 4th, 2005: Front brake pads replaced. The 190D has a dashboard light that tells you it's time to replace the pads. $146.75 total.

155,322 miles, June 17th 2005: regular service. Also replaced fuel and transmission cooler lines to catch a small leak and changed and flushed the transmission fluid as a good idea along with the cooler line change. $496.62 total.

155,967 miles, July 15th, 2005: Replace right (passenger) rear window regulator and lift motor. $170.24 + 1.5 hours labor.

Actually you could spend a lot more maintaining a crummy car, since I always had a hard time finding competent service for my American cars unless I did it myself. You'd also be repairing and servicing any other car just as often. Note this was all maintenance done on time, not because anything (except the window switch) actually broke. For instance, we replaced the A/C compressor that was working fine simply because it was making noises that suggested it was getting old, and the dashboard light telling you it's time to replace some brake pads lets you know with plenty of warning.

It sat in storage for ten years while I had a company car throughout the 1990s. I'd take it for a ride every few months to keep the battery charged and all the switches clean, and otherwise it sat covered in the garage. It made no sense to sell it even though I had an all-expenses-paid new vehicle available for my use 24/7, since this 190D 2.5 can't ever be replaced. I even got to order a brand-new American company car to my liking every two years, and of course kept my Mercedes-Benz 190 D 2.5 Sedan. Try finding one, there are rarely more than one or two for-sale listings in the entire USA, and those few are always worthless old beaters missing parts.

It's not perfect, but not like anything else out there in this price range either.

Call me for details on anything; I'm at (858) 453-2099

Details on Price    back to top of page

Sticker price in 1988: $31,630, which is over $51,000 in today's dollars with inflation. This was never a cheap car, this was made before Mercedes dropped price and quality to compete with Lexus and BMW. Just like Rolls, Bentley and Ferrari, Mercedes never advertised back then either; you weren't paying for advertising when you bought a car as you do with today's Mercedes.

Price isn't that important; ensuring it goes to a new owner who will keep it in new condition is. I have several very interested folks coming to see it at $8,700. Call me for details on anything; I'm at (858) 453-2099.

This is no ordinary car-for-sale. This is a very special vehicle whose fanatic owner (me) has babied and preserved it for decades while often driving it just enough to keep the fluids happy and battery charged. It can sit for at least three months and keep a full battery charge. It looks better than other cars just a couple of years old because it's been garaged day and night and was even in storage for close to ten years. Of course no one has ever eaten, drank or smoked in it.

Someone will be making out like a bandit: this car will sell for well under $10,000. Book values don't apply to special interest vehicles like this; the books (Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds) suggest a typical 1988 190D is worth a couple of thousand dollars. If you've been shopping you know what junk people are trying to unload, like these here (missing valve cover, paint and radio) or the one here missing door trim and parked outside. Those are the cars to which book values apply. That's not this one. Of course if you're a collector you know that values are at their lowest when a car is 15 - 20 years old and then starts to rise for vehicles in this condition.

I had another 190D four years older than this one that was totaled and for which the insurance company paid me $8,500, a thousand dollars more than I had paid for it used! Before I got them to come out and see it in person they offered me $800 from their book. I was stopped at an intersection and someone not paying attention drove into the back of me at 35 MPH. I was unharmed: the seats were strong enough not to collapse like they would in an ordinary car which would have lead to serious injury. Airbags can't protect you from rear collisions, good seats do. I would have been in big trouble in some car barely designed to meet minimum standards and marketed with way too many airbags for show. That's why I prefer no-compromise cars like classic Mercedes. No, silly, this one has never had any bodywork. My other Mercedes was squished a foot shorter and I was unharmed! Mercedes knows crash crumple zones.

I have an ad coming out in the Mercedes-Benz Club of America's magazine's next issue at $8,700, which is what people ask for cars like this.

Terms and Conditions: Cash and carry. Where is and as is. I make no warrantees of anything. I did this web page for fun and started it years ago, long before having any inkling I'd be meeting a gal to whom I'd be married and would then direct me to sell my car. All information is believed accurate but not guaranteed, especially about the EMP survivability. Please just come over and have a look and a chat about our cars. This car is in great shape because I maintain it, and likewise you, like me, will need to spend money on it to keep it in this shape. It doesn't run as well and look as good as it does because it's been ignored; any time you see an older car that looks sharp it's because it's owner is at least half crazy about taking care of it.

SPECIFICATIONS    back to top of page

Dimensions and Turning Radius

35.0' turning circle (34.1'?)
175.0" long
66.1" wide
54.7" tall
104.9" wheelbase

2,845 pounds curb weight

41.9" front legroom, 30.9" rear
36.9" front headroom, 36.0" rear

11.7 cubic foot trunk
14.5 gallon fuel tank with 1.8 gallon reserve
26.4 square feet of window glass


Ordinary Diesel fuel, usually 20 cents per gallon cheaper than regular when you know where to buy it. Extraordinary cruising range eliminates the need for every one out of three fuel stops compared to a gasoline car. Unlike hybrids there are no batteries to replace for $4,000 in a few years when they fail after the warranty expires.

Popular among Hollywood's jet set, even Daryl Hannah drives a much crummier Diesel car as you can read here.

EPA rated 30 MPG city, 34 MPG highway here. Ken Rockwell gets 30 MPG around town and 37 to 38 MPG on long trips! Ken has seen as high as 42 MPH when others drove the car at a sustained speed of 85 MPH returning from Utah along Interstate 15 for about 700 miles.

California emissions certified by Mercedes-Benz. As an environmentally sound alternative fuel vehicle it is exempt from California's smog check annual emission testing requirements.


Inline 5 cylinder 2.497 litre / 152.4 CID overhead cam Diesel engine

Like all Mercedes, the cam is driven by a timing chain that never needs service, not a rubber belt like a Lexus that has to be changed at great expense.

93 hp @ 4,600 RPM
122 ft-lbs @ 2,800 RPM
redline: 5,150 RPM

22.0 : 1 compression ratio

3.43" stroke, 3.31" bore

Mechanical fuel injection. Impervious to EMP effects during and after a nuclear event. Yes, in case of world war three you'll be the only one still driving because the electronic ignitions of every other car made since 1970 will have been fried. There will be no "Mad Max" because every gasoline car made since about 1970 has transistorized ignition control that replaced points. Only vehicles with mechanical ignitions and carburetors, or mechanical fuel injection and compression ignition, will be able to run. Of course forget any modern car with any sort of electronic fuel injection or onboard computers, which is every car made since 1990 including Diesels and commercial trucks. Likewise this car has a hydraulically controlled transmission also impervious to EMP. This may very well be the only operable motor vehicle left after the first nuclear burst of the next conflict, when you'll need your vehicle to run more than any time in your life. Remember that all above-ground nuclear testing stopped in 1963 before any electronic vehicle controls, and acts of war are specifically excluded from coverage under your automobile's comprehensive insurance policy.

The Diesel engine has and needs no ignition system; the fuel ignites from the temperature rise caused by the very high compression stroke. This is called "compression ignition." There are no spark plugs or ignition system.

There are cylinder pre-heaters which warm each cylinder to operating temperature for quick starts in any weather.

Transmission and Driveline:

4 speed hydraulically controlled automatic. Second-gear start except when first is needed: when floored from a stop or or on very steep hills.

3.07 rear axle ratio. With tires at 856 revs/mile you get 2,625 RPM at 60 MPH.

Wheels, Brakes, Tires and Suspension

185/65R15 87T. 856 revs/mile. Michelin is original equipment. NASA also has relied on Michelin as their sole tire supplier since the first Space Shuttle launch in 1981. What goes into Michelin's tires for NASA? The same things that go into their tires for the Concorde, F22 Stealth Fighter and B2 Stealth Bomber. Goodyear makes tires for ordinary jetliners whose ground speeds are less than good sports cars like the Mercedes SL500, big deal.

6J x 15H2 light alloy wheels

Four wheel disc brakes, fully independent suspension


Becker radio with direct numeric station entry and fine interchannel tuning to eliminate alternate channel interference.

AM stereo as well as FM stereo.

Cassette player with Dolby B and C noise reduction.


Standard Mercedes seats designed for ultra comfort on any length trip. You'll notice longer seat bottoms than newer Mercedes and other cars. Today Mercedes and others economize with shorter seat bottoms to make the interior of the car look bigger. These smaller cushions compromise on the seat comfort you have in this 190.


The side gauges are angled in towards the driver so no accuracy is lost to parallax. My BMW by comparison has a flat gauge panel so the side gauges lose accuracy because you are not looking at them straight on unless you move your head.

The speedometer is dead on when compared to my GPS. Dead on means more accurate than a fraction of a MPH and limited by my ability to interpolate between markings. The speedometer read a little high on the previous set of tires; this will vary with wear and pressure among other things. By comparison my new BMW reads 4 MPH high, which is typical and poor.

The odometer reads high by six-tenths of one percent, and this will vary with tire wear, speed and inflation pressure.

The fuel gauge is typical for Mercedes: it reads 4/4 when full, and comes off the 4/4 mark as soon as you drive a bit. The light comes on when you reach the R marking at the bottom, at which point you still have a gallon or two (check the manual) to go. This contrasts with newer models like my 1997 SL500 the bottom of whose fuel gauge reads 0 and the reserve light which comes on at 1/8. My 190D drinks 12.5 gallons of fuel when the reserve light illuminates. I fill to the rim, which is a half gallon above the pump shut off. There is no annoying vapor recovery as on ordinary gas cars.

The clock is more accurate than I can measure. I can read it to within several seconds and I've never seen it vary even after six months. of course after six months one needs to reset it to or from daylight time.

Detailing and Paint

All original. I've always washed and waxed it by hand. I've never had it polished commercially, nor has anything ever been repainted.

This means that if it looks this good today that you can take it out and have it clayed, polished or whatever to your heart's content and make it even shinier.

I'm a big saver. I never like to use or spend things. I've never wanted to have it polished, which as you know means grinding down a few microns off the top of the clear coat. It's all there for you to do with as you please.

For the past 10 years I've used black-colored wax. It's called something like "Color Match" by Turtlewax and is easy to find. It sounds silly, but this black wax means that any spots you miss when wiping it off don't scream "mistake" as white wax does when it turns white. Brilliant!

I use Meguire's to treat the outside black plastic. That's it!

GENERAL INFORMATION    back to top of page

SPORTS SEDAN PLEASURE AND DIESEL FRUGALITY might at first seem an incongruous blend. A brief excursion behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 190D 2.5 Sedan will immediately resolve this apparent contradiction. This four-door model is constructed on the same advanced monocoque body/chassis unit as the other 190 Class models, making it, like the others, a remarkably versatile sedan. Yet for those times when you feel so inclined, it is a superbly capable road machine.

Mercedes 190D

My 190D along California's Pacific Coast Highway, Friday, September 17th, 2004, after 500 scenic miles.

But in the 190D 2.5, these over-the-road talents and the versatility of a four-door sedan are coupled with the frugality and reliability of a highly refined Diesel engine. An engine that requires neither spark plugs nor the complexity of electronic ignition components. Like all Diesels, it idles with a minimum of fuel consumption, stretching the machine's per tank range. It is based on designs proven unusually durable over billions of highway miles - since Mercedes-Benz pioneered the production Diesel passenger car, 70 long years ago.

Mercedes 190D

Mercedes 190D 2.5 Sedan. That's a 1977 BMW R100S with 18,000 miles on it in the garage.

To ensure that noise will not disturb the refined interior environment, acoustic panels encapsulate the engine. The very pleasant result: a Diesel automobile that doesn't sound like a Diesel.

Yet in terms of power output the engine is as potent as some Diesels of considerably larger displacement. Utilizing advanced prechamber design and a precise in-line mechanical fuel injection pump, it generates a lively 93 horsepower and 122 foot-pounds of torque. Enough to climb hills without running out of wind. Enough to propel the 190D 2.5 to a test track maximum of over 100 MPH. Enough to move this 1 - 1/2 ton sedan adroitly over challenging roads, where the 190 Class steering and suspension components manage roadholding in a manner not unlike that of a fine sports car. In keeping with the dual personality of the 190D 2.5 Sedan, its engine is mated to an ingenious four-speed automatic transmission that allows you manually to change gear ratios by feel alone when you are so inclined.

The most efficient of the efficient 190 Class automobiles reconciles the apparent disparity between Diesels and true driver's cars. It is thrifty, yet sporting. Solid and fully equipped, yet trim and athletically agile. Tenaciously durable and reliable, yet a pleasure to drive. In brief, the 190D 2.5 Sedan displays a combination of virtues that might never be found in one automobile - save in a Mercedes-Benz.


Compressing the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of simultaneous excellence into an automotive equation of the trimmest, most agile size represented one of the great challenges in company history.

The outcome, ten years later, was a host of individual technological advances synthesized into an advanced automotive class: the Mercedes-Benz 190 Class.

The 190 Class automobiles deliver in every measure - from integrity of construction to dependability, from occupant comfort to stringent safety provisions - what the world expects from a Mercedes-Benz. And you will discover that these automobiles are fit to compete with exotic sports sedans in their sheer driving excitement. Driver's cars, in brief. With the same carefully measured balance of virtues that is universally recognized as intrinsic to Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes 190D interior

A masterwork of ergonomic engineering, the passenger compartment wraps both front and rear seat occupants in firmly supportive seating and the tasteful ambiance of a Mercedes-Benz automobile. Full analog instrumentation and functionally efficient control systems enhance driver performance.

Mercedes 190D rear The almost aggressive stance of the 190D 2.5 Sedan is not misleading. Its spirited Diesel engine generates 93 horsepower, more than enough to provide alert and powerful response.

Its aerodynamically efficient form (coefficient of aerodynamic drag = 0.35) combines with modest overall weight and the engine's significant output to make three-digit test track speeds attainable. Thus, at highway speeds, this automobile - unlike most Diesels - is not taxed.
Mercedes 190D side

Mercedes 190D cornering

As the 190D 2.5 Sedan leans into a curve its stout anti-roll bars, fore and aft, help prevent excessive body roll. Fully independent suspension with damper-strut components up front and multilink geometry at the rear provides remarkably steadfast roadholding. The advanced rear suspension design, the same later used on the 1992 - 1999 S Class, maintains the proper tire/road relationship even as each wheel rises or drops in relation to the chassis. Because the five links that locate each wheel yield to dynamic forces in a precisely calculated way, unwanted rear-wheel steer effects are completely eliminated.

Mercedes 190D             Mercedes 190D

Combining the stalwart character of a Diesel, the surefootedness of a high-performance sports sedan and the refined personality of a Mercedes-Benz, the 190D 2.5 defies all traditional stereotypes.

Mercedes 190D Diesel engine

The powerplant that moves this sedan with such exemplary enthusiasm is a five-cylinder Diesel of 2.5-liter displacement. A cross-flow aluminum alloy cylinder head combines with an advanced prechamber design and sophisticated fuel-injection pump to enhance the powerplant's performance capability. A sturdy six main-bearing, ten-counterweight crankshaft and vibration dampers help minimize engine vibration.

A sturdy double-roller timing chain drives the Diesel engine's single overhead cam.

Mercedes 190D timing chain

Mercedes 190D fuel heater
To prevent Diesel fuel waxing, which can occur at low ambient temperatures, a preheater automatically warms the fuel when outside temperature drops below a preset limit. The fuel is automatically diverted through a heat exchanger that is warmed by engine coolant. This device prevents the formation of wax crystals in the fuel that can severely restrict flow. Thus cold weather engine performance is substantially improved.
The enthusiastic response and dependable performance of the 190D 2.5 Sedan's Diesel powerplant are the result of advanced design. This cutaway view shows the smooth contouring of the engine's large crossflow ports. A direct-acting overhead cam and bucket-type tappets with hydraulic compensators enhance powerplant reliability.
Mercedes 190D crossflow port
Mercedes 190D engine mount Ingenious hydraulic front engine mounts effectively dampen certain low-frequency powerplant vibrations. This further limits the transmission of annoying noise and vibration to the uncannily quiet passenger compartment of the Mercedes-Benz 190D 2.5 Sedan.


THE ELEGANTLY SHAPED LIGHT-ALLOY WHEEL pictured at the right is not a machine or system in the visual sense but a single moving part. Nothing more, at first glance, than a means of transferring the rotational movement of a driving axle to the tire and road. Utilitarian though its role may be, this wheel incorporates a remarkable amount of advanced automotive science.

Of a rugged light-alloy, the wheel helps minimize unsprung weight for improved handling. Because it conducts heat efficiently, the front wheel bearings run at a relatively low temperature, one that is conducive to long-term durability. Designed with a smooth face, it contributes to the aerodynamic efficiency of each 190 Class automobile. Slots are cut into the wheel's perimeter to draw heated air away from the brakes. Cooler brakes are less susceptible to fade in repeated high-speed stops.

Mounted on each wide alloy wheel is a stout steel-belted radial tire. Matched precisely to the vehicle's sophisticated suspension system, these advanced tires, with high-traction, open-block tread design, provide a superior bond between the automobile and the road surface, yet perform with minimal noise. And rated for sustained speed well into the three-digit range, their level of competence far exceeds what would ever be required within the constraints of America's legal speed limits.


THE HANDLING of 190 Class automobiles has been compared to that of exotic performance machines. But the ability to corner at exalted velocity was not all the engineers had in mind when they designed the multilink independent rear suspension. Their goal was more practical: to design a suspension system that excelled in every respect, and particularly in matters of stability.

Multilink, from above

MULTILINK ROOTS TIRES to pavement by maintaining a near maximum footprint. Utilizing five links to locate each rear wheel, this suspension preserves the relationship between road and tire, while eliminating undesirable steer effects. As Road & Track reports, a 190 Class sedan "will challenge some of the finest sports sedans in the world on just about any road you choose."


A COMPACT DAMPER STRUT FRONT SUSPENSION contributes to aerodynamic efficiency by permitting a low hoodline. The design achieves advantages in ride comfort over MacPherson strut suspensions by separating the spring and the gas-pressurized damper strut, thereby allowing optimum placement of these components. Negative-offset geometry contributes to the straight-line tracking of the 190 Class automobiles.


PROVIDING SMOOTH feedback that helps keep you aware of the road, recirculating-ball steering with progressive power assist complements the 190 Class suspension with balanced effort and control.

1.) Control valve
2.) Steering nut
3.) Recirculation balls
4.) Steering worm
5.) Working piston

Mercedes 190D cutaway view

(click for huge version)

In order to manage airflow, flush-mounted headlamps and a swept-back grille integrate smoothly with the fender and hood lines of the 190 Class. Other design elements are equally sensitive to aerodynamic considerations. Thus, the 190 Class achieves remarkable air management efficiency.

The integrity and solid feel of a Mercedes-Benz is in many ways dependent on the fully-welded monocoque body/chassis that serves as a sturdy, rigid backbone.

Damper strut front suspension on the 190 Class separates the spring and strut for optimum ride control. This design also contributes to aerodynamic efficiency by allowing a low hoodline.

Multilink rear suspension, introduced on the 190 Class and then used in the 1992 - 1999 S class, exactingly controls camber change and steer angles for tenacious roadholding and superb directional stability.

Mercedes-Benz automobiles are engineered to provide optimum braking capability. Large discs and substantial calipers achieve high-performance deceleration.


Mercedes 190D engine cutaway

1.) Double-roller timing chain
2.) Direct acting overhead cam
3.) Precombustion chambers

4.) Forged steel connecting rods
5.) Spin forged steel crankshaft

THE 2.5 LITER FIVE-CYLINDER DIESEL that powers that powers the 190D 2.5 Sedan adds all the stubborn reliability and granite durability of a compression ignition engine to a versatile 190 Class Sedan. Without sacrificing the machines sporting verve.

Although designed to minimize waste, this responsive Diesel delivers 93 horsepower and a substantial 122 foot-pounds of torque. Thus, the energetic powerplant can accelerate the 190D 2.5 to 55 mph in less than thirteen seconds.

A DEEP-SKIRTED CAST-IRON BLOCK, a high-volume oil pump, forged steel connecting rods, a spin-forged crankshaft, and a valve train free of pushrods and rocker arms all help the Diesel engine achieve bulldog toughness.

Mercedes 190D LVP prechamber THE ENGINE'S REMARKABLE PROWESS is due, at least in part, to the advanced design of Mercedes-Benz LVP prechambers. ("LVP" is derived from the German words for high performance, low fuel consumption and reduced particulate emissions.) Because combustion begins within these cylinder-head cavities, the powerplant's efficiency is significantly affected by variables in prechamber engineering. The LVP concept places each injector nozzle off-center and incorporates a diffuser element to stimulate mixing of air and fuel, thereby improving combustion.

Mercedes 190D encapsulation


MERCEDES-BENZ ENGINEERS HAVE TAKEN STEPS to ensure that excessive Diesel clatter will not diminish your enjoyment of the 190D 2.5 Sedan. To this end they have encapsulated the already quiet powerplant in a system of acoustic panels, including a sound-deadening mat inside the hood, strips that effectively seal the engine compartment, insulated polymer skirts, an underpanel shield and a second firewall. Thermostatically controlled vents ensure that engines compartment temperature does not rise excessively.

Hydraulically damped front engine mounts further reduce the transmission of vibration and noise.


A FOUR-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION idles in second gear to minimize creep and starts in second for best efficiency. Hard accelerator pressure immediately shifts it down to first gear for greatly improved acceleration.

Mercedes 190D transmission


Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc. for their extraordinary customer support and gracious and tacit permission to allow me to base some of my work in this critical review on adaptations of some aspects the original historical sales brochures. This gives just a small insight to the vast technical resources inside Mercedes-Benz, the inventor of the automobile and who continuously draw on this heritage to create the worlds most advanced vehicles today. If they could do this almost 20 years ago, just try to imagine what they do today!

Many thanks also to the artists whose work in the 1980s looks so spectacular as adapted here for the Internet. Please let me know if you'd like direct credit which you never got in the original edition.


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