Readers, here is a car that will no doubt divide opinion. Purists salivating at the above image of a very nice looking Mercedes 2.3-16 wide body AMG, now is the time to bite into the lime and salt your hand as this shot of AMG definitely has a strong kick to it. Are you ready?
Open the bonnet of this particular car and you will find no race-bred Cosworth engine. In fact, you won’t even find something from Mercedes, or even Greater Europe.
In fact, the owner of this stunning example of 80’s German performance motoring looked to the Land of the Rising Sun for his kicks.
Feel the burn, purists, but trust me – once you gulp it down things are about to get interesting. And let’s remember: good things happen when you cross European and Japanese talent. Fusion cuisine, Senna’s Honda-powered McLaren MP4s, Jenson Button’s Girlfriend. In fact, forgetting a certain German/Japanese military alliance around 1943 it’s a pretty unbeatable combination.
Mick, the owner of this car, is a passionate Mercedes man with a particular soft spot for the 190E. This is in fact his third 190E, being preceded by a replica of the rare 1984 2.3-16 and a 1987 wide body AMG 190E. Mick had been keeping his eyes peeled for unique examples of this iconic sports sedan for some time, but it wasn’t until he stumbled upon this 2.3-16 wide body AMG sitting on 18 inch BBS wheels in the Chatswood Classic showroom that he was satisfied. Braving his wife’s objections, Mick signed on the dotted line and added this stunning blue-black machine to his stable (and at a steal too!).
But back to that engine. The keen eyed amongst you might recognize that distinctive cam cover as belonging to the respected Toyota/Lexus 1UZ-FE unit. It may seem like a left field choice, but this engine came from the factory with a shopping list of high performance features including 6 bolt main bottom end, forged crank and pistons, quad overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder. The racing inspired engine develops over 250hp in stock trim, however Mick added Tighe custom high lift cams, ported & polished heads, upgraded valves and lifters into the equation in addition to expelling exhaust gasses via 4 into 1 tuned headers and a 3-inch exhaust. A conservative tune on the Haltech E11 EMS by Just Engine Management puts the final figure at a reliable but very healthy 380HP. This provides a welcome hike over the original 220hp unit, while alloy construction means the usual weight penalty of a V8 swap is negated. Power is put down via the tried and tested Supra 5 speed double ribbed box.
Check out that insane custom carbon fibre work – I’ve never seen anything like it before. Mick had Jet Speed Customs in Moorebank custom make the pieces, ensuring they didn’t interfere with any access to necessary engine components. I was actually strolling through the pits at Sydney Motorsport Park when Mick popped the bonnet. The visual impact of seeing this hidden under the fairly unassuming exterior grabbed my interest instantly and I knew it was something I had to share with you here.
This engine setup is actually the second ‘evolution’ in Mick’s search for more power. In 2002 after owning the car for six years a turbocharger was added to the original engine with electronic injection and a Microtech computer replacing the stock mechanical setup. In this configuration the engine was good for 370hp, and in Mick’s words ‘put the cat amongst the pigeons’ at track days. The increased load required the replacement of the drive shafts and axles before long.
At the same time as doing the turbo conversion, the factory self-leveling suspension was replaced with competition Eibach suspension, Urethane bushes were installed and Mick redesigned the front splitter to accommodate the intercooler – his design being based on the Mercedes E43 being raced in Europe at the time. The rear wing was also added, and is actually a restyled donation from an E36 M3 but suits the brutish lines of the 190E. AP Racing brakes have since been tasked with keeping the 380hp restrainted.
After two years of boost the timing chain failed and left Mick with a 370hp-sized hole in his heart, and the rest is history.
Peering in through the drivers door, the interior is a mix of sports and luxury with heavily bolstered leather seats providing ample comfort but not at the expense of cornering support. It also features some special touches…
…such as this beautiful veneer which is crafted from a wood called Silver ‘Birds Eye’ Maple – a very rare timber and an even rarer factory option. This is in addition to the special leather code which means genuine leather coats not only the seats, but the dash, roof lining, pillows, rear speaker parcel tray and even the medical compartment! Certainly don’t see that on many Benz’s these days.
In addition to the veneer, the electronic heated Recaro seats make a very unique interior combination indeed – it is as displayed on the main rotary stand at the 1985 Hamburg Motor Show in Germany.
This particular vehicle actually has a very unique history – after contacting Brian Connell at AMG Australia, Mick discovered that his car had actually been ordered in person by Brian from the Hamburg show. The car was then featured in the 1992 Sydney Motor show and made several magazine appearances over the years as a press vehicle (copies of which Mick proudly owns). The paperwork suggests that in this spec, the car is literally one of a kind.
Understandably, the AMG ‘Cosi’ is more than ‘just a car’ to Mick – hearing him talk about it was akin to a proud parent talking about a favourite child. He has no plans to ever sell the car, but instead hopes to pass it on to his son when the young chap is ready in his father’s eyes.
So there you have it – what is unarguably one of the most unique 190E’s in Australia, if not the world. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Also, a huge thanks to Mick for sharing the story of his ‘cosi’ with us.
Words and Photography by Blake Jones.