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Mercedes 190: the ancestor of the C-Class celebrates its 40th anniversary

Launched in 1982, the Mercedes 190 celebrates its fortieth birthday this year. A look back at the history of the “Baby-Benz”, the ancestor of the C-Class.

On December 8, 1982, the German manufacturer expanded its range from below with the launch of the Mercedes 190 (Type 201)a three-box family saloon distinguished by its compactness, and thus it was nicknamed the “Baby-Benz”.

The 190 enjoyed a decade of career, with more than 1.8 million copies produced until August 1993, making it one of Mercedes’ most popular models, and giving birth to its successor, the C-Class.

Mercedes 190: a unique model

At the time, Mercedes cars belonged more to the upper segments, and the arrival of more compact models was considered as early as 1974, following the oil crisis. The project began in October 1978, and the future Mercedes 190 was going to place just below the biggest Mercedes 123 in the range.

Despite his more compact dimensions (4.42 meters long, 1.68 meters wide and 1.38 meters high), the Mercedes 190 was a concentrate of what the brand knew how to do best at the time, with handling qualities of road, driving comfort, reliability and durability that have made its reputation.

Mercedes 190: an ultramodern production

The Mercedes 190 was produced in Sindelfingen and then in Breamin a factory that was considered at the time as the vehicle production plant the most modern in the world : for example, the axles are installed automatically, which is a first in the history of the industry.

This factory received the largest investment of the time, amounting to 1.4 billion Deutsche Marks, and then production began in September 1982 with body components in white, which come from the factory of Sindelfingen assembly. In 1984, the site expanded with the arrival of paint and assembly lines, which made it possible to manufacture complete vehicles there. Nowadays, the plant in Bremen is still in operation and produces the latest generation of Mercedes C-Class.

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Mercedes 190: records and victories

During its career, the Mercedes 190 has distinguished itself many times, such as in 1983 on the Nardò test track in southern Italy, where the 190 E 2.3-16 established no less than three records long distance driving. In 1985, it was approved for the sport automobile and was used for the first time in the French Touring Car Championship, followed by the German DTM Championship in 1986.

In 1988, Mercedes returned to motorsport, and from 1991, the development department for the competition 190 E 2.5-16 EVO II was entrusted to AMG. This EVO II won the first three places in the DTM championship in 1992, with Klaus Ludwig, Kurt Thiim and Bernd Schneider, putting Mercedes at the top of the constructors’ classification.

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