Throwback: A 190 Benz That Barks
2024 Intro

Earlier this week, Mario brought us coverage from the 2024 Players Classic at Goodwood Circuit in the UK. Ten years ago, Speedhunters was at the 2014 Classic, and as a result of that one car was chosen for a #FeatureThis award.

That car was Steve Howson‘s Mercedes-Benz 190 E – a genuine 2.5-16 variant with plenty of custom additions and some incredible attention to detail. Also incredible is the fact that a decade on Steve still owns the 190 – now in an even further evolved form – and last weekend at Players he took home another accolade: the Snap-on Car of the Show award.

For this week’s throwback post, let’s revisit the original 2014 feature…

2014 Feature

The ’80s were a crazy time. The economy was on the climb, mobile phones were still a decade away from the average person, and schools were only just getting their first computers.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-9

On the roads, BMW took the fight to the RS Cosworth with its E28 M5 – the other manufacturers were not even in the game. Mercedes-Benz saw an opening and decided to enter the fray and challenge the masters from Munich and Essex.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-53

This is the Benz creation – a kick-ass 190 E built with performance in mind. Purists might prefer the early 2.3-16 model for its engine, which was developed and built by Cosworth. But this later 2.5-16 version with its enlarged-capacity four cylinder engine rumoured to having been built by Mercedes-Benz themselves, has more grunt, reliability and power – and that’s not a bad thing.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-12

Steve got his first taste of the high-spec 190 E model back in 2002 when his then boss, who’d just bought a Diablo, put his up for sale. Having come from an air-cooled VW background, within a few miles of driving the 190 he can remember being completely struck by the quality and power.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-17

If you’ve never clicked with a car before, then your time is still to come. It’s often only later in life that you realise you’ve kind of found your ‘one’. So although he didn’t realise it at the time, the Mercedes-Benz brand was going to play a large part in his life.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-21

More specifically, it’s always been about the rare Cosworth-infused model for Steve. That first car ended up bent beyond repair after an incident at the Nürburgring, but with the salvage recovered to the UK, the best bits were then swapped over to another similar ’91 2.5-16. That’s not this car though…

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-24

What we have here is the culmination of Steve’s past projects and experience, all put together in another 190 E 2.5-16 chassis to form one complete package. There are some subtle mods and improvements going on here – can you spot them?

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-46

Talking to Steve I can really relate to his build ethos with this car. He makes a lot of sense as he tells me about wanting to keep things ‘shiny side up’, and how everything has to be just right nowadays. Having been through a couple of different cars, he decided back in 2009 that he needed to do a 190 E Cosworth properly, and this is it. Some people nail it from day one, but for most of us, as you get older you learn how to do things better and get a greater understanding of what you like.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-52

Quite often when you first start modifying cars, you have a ‘that’ll do’ attitude. Wheels fit but might not look quite right, seats are bolted in rather than fitted with fabricated or specialist parts, your wiring could start a fire and quite often spraywork is done by a can. But as you learn more, you become increasingly discerning and dedicated to the cause of doing a proper job.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-4

And that’s what first struck me about Steve’s 190 – it looked just right. And when I looked even closer it just got better. The single CD/tuner head unit might not be mid ’90s, but it feels like it could be.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-3

Put together with the JBL GTO amp in the boot and some quality speakers, the sounds are taken care of. Again, it’s all too easy to forget that up until five or so years ago there weren’t many factory stereo systems that you wouldn’t think twice about ripping out, and to be honest, I think the manufacturers expected us to. Nowadays they’re so capable, often you don’t need to bother.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-1

I could look at Steve’s Mercedes-Benz from this angle all day long. The ruler straight, horizontal lines of the front end make it look aggressive, but that iconic grille always adds a touch of class for me. Like the driver would be a badass, yet still open the door for a lady.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-15

The fit and finish all goes to make the 190 so killer too. Design-wise, the 17×8-inch OZ Racing Futura wheels at the front are so totally on the money – proper split rims with a simple five-spoke design which cues straight to the bodywork’s lines.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-5

The fit is just about perfect too. Browsing the internet Steve paid a lot of attention to what worked and what he liked, so there’s not a mass of wheel sticking out or crazy camber – just a 25mm spacer to give a nice fit. That allows him to throw the 190 around when he wants, without having to worry about the tyres rubbing the crap out of the arches.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-6

Steve freely admits that investing in components like the WP Pro 8-pot front callipers and cross-drilled discs made him up his game when it came to the running gear. Now everything under there has been stripped, detailed or renewed. That’s no small feat considering all the work has been done in a small, single garage, and a driveway.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-8

The small things are the ones that always make the difference. It’s when you’ve done everything else that you find the time to spend a few hours perfectly executing something subtle, like these air intake holes. But yet another chapter has gone by without me getting the party itself. I promise I won’t delay any longer…

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-27

This is what first grabbed me at Goodwood when we laid eyes on the Mercedes-Benz – bonnet up with a small group gathered around. As it would have originally had Bosch KE Jetronic fuel injection fitted, we were very surprised to see a pair of 48DCOE Webers mounted on the side of the four-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve engine. Steve has tried it all though, and previously he owned a super-rare Mosselman turbo-converted car which he just didn’t get along with.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-23

But why carbs? Surely that’s a step back, right? Well, not so much. Steve actually tried bike carbs first with a modern Megajolt engine management system looking after everything. They were actually easier to set up and maintain than the original basic injection setup, but he was never satisfied with the manifold that he ended up using. So when an incredibly rare inlet manifold became available for the Webers, it was a done deal. Plus they bark, which is always a winner!

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-28

The other thing that hit us was how damned clean it is under there…

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-26

This subtle but substantive detail really is amazing. The whole bulkhead is new and was custom-built to hide some of the wiring and other parts, but still appear factory.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-14

So there’s a lot going on here for what at first appears to be a simple build – which all goes to back up my theory that as you get older your projects get better. So if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-44

Some modifications, however, are more obvious than others – like the Recaro bucket seat and SCHROTH Racing harness for the driver.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-49

It might seem odd only having one, but it says gentlemen driver to me. As though passengers don’t really matter…

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-54

From its yellow fog lamps to simply-trimmed tailpipes, this 190 is absolutely bang up to date. At the same time, though, Steve hasn’t hidden or destroyed anything that stops it screaming ’80s.

Steve Howson UKmercman 190 Cosworth-10

This ultimate 2.5-16 has been the result of many years of Steve’s research, hard work and money, so it came as a surprise when he said he was considering selling the saloon. But with garage space at a premium he needs room for the W108 or W115 restomod project in his sights, so it might be time to move on. The 190 E Cosworth has been a great project for Steve and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: brynmusselwhite

Steve Howson’s Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 (2014 Spec)

Engine: Mercedes-Benz 2.5-litre DOHC 16V inline-four, knife-edged and lightened crank, lightened/balanced rods & pistons, lightened/balanced flywheel &clutch, new rings, bearings and seals throughout, rebuilt head with new guides and seats, 3-way valve job, twin Weber 48DCOE carbs with homemade sealed airbox & K&N air filter, relocated air cooler, cast aluminium motorsport inlet manifold with heat-proof spacer, port matched, ceramic-coated factory 4-branch exhaust manifold, stainless steel straight through exhaust with twin 2.5-inch tips, Megajolt distributorless ignition ECO with EDIS module and coil pack, custom-made 36-1 trigger wheel -5 per cent underdrive, custom header tank that doubles as blanking plate for SLS pump
Driveline: Factory 5-speed close-ratio dogleg gearbox, extended lever with short shift, locking block installed in diff (approx 70 per cent lock)
Suspension/Brakes: SPAX adjustable shock/springs, custom spring pads, homemade adjustable rear camber arms, self levelling rear suspension delete, WP Pro 8-piston front callipers with 2-piece 330mm cross-drilled discs, E36 AMG vented rear discs and larger 2-piston rear callipers, 500E master cylinder, ABS delete, stainless lines throughout
Wheels/Tyres: OZ Futura wheels, 17×8-inch ET40 with +25mm spacer (front), 17×8.5-inch ET13 with +3mm spacer (rear), 205/40R17 tyres (front), 215/40R17 tyres (rear)
Exterior: Factory 2.5-16, custom-vented front bumper, yellow fog lights
Interior: Recaro SPG drivers seat, Schroth harness, Momo steering wheel, JBL amp in boot with battery



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Why are you guys recycling old content so much?


Curious about this too. Makes it feel like they are running out of content/people to make content.


Respectfully, you sound like a kid who is peeing in bed. No offense meant.

FACT: Larry and his helpers have travelled to the ends of the Earth to feature amazing vehicles on this websight.

FACT: True builders and, (well, I won't call us "drivers" since you don't really drive a vehicle like the RS211, you PILOT it)...we did our part to uphold our end of the bargain.

FACT: The onus is on you, Mr. COMPLAINER on a FREE media platform - has your car been featured on here? If not, you are basically in the paleolithic era of the vehicular hobby and need to take notes and quiet down!!!!


You’re really a disgusting person Frank. I mean honestly. You’re just a grotesque grotesque human being. You need Jesus you sick fk

disciple of WILLIO

Your idol Jay Leno has never been featured on this site, what does that make him?


Lmao. Leno raced a car at an event I was at and crashed it 6 times in about 30 minutes. The worst driver I’ve ever seen. He made the team delete the in car footage after too! Dont believe me? Check this out:


my reply to Frank would be: has anyone ever paid for you to get on a plane and race their car based on your reputation for being fast? This has happened to me with Formula 1 and NASCAR drivers and that’s infinitely more impressive than being featured. So Frank, what’s your background with people paying you to drive? Sounds like your world is very materialistic and based around the media.


Frank I will happily race you in a machine for 10 grand that pulls 4G sustained. You’re not even fit enough to drive something that physical. Look at your belly LOL.

You drive the RS211 you don’t pilot it. Please stop. This is why Leno was able to talk to you while driving. Try talking while sustaining 3-4G. I’d love to see a video of that.

This site is dying. Your brain cells are deteriorating by the minute (clearly) and I actually created the Iamthespeedhunters feature. I could literally screen shot the email if I wanted to do damage but I’m a nice person. That’s why I bite my tongue with you as well. You have no idea who I am or what I am capable of. Have a nice day.


Coming from you, its hard to take offence.

First of all, Larry isn't affiliated with Speedhunters anymore. His last post on Speedhunters was almost 6 years ago. You keep complimenting Larry for photos and stories he hasn't even made. Also, calling the other authors on Speedhunters his "helpers" is just disrespectfull to all the people that take their time to make content for Speedhunters.

Seccondly, I could not care less about you, your RS211 or what you think you have done for Speedhunters.

Thirdly, it was hardly a complain and I feel that the Speedhunters staff wouldn't take it as one either. It was a genuin question regarding a trend I had been noticing on this platform. Purely out of intrest I asked this question. Obviously you can't ask for too much on a free platform. However, asking questions has never been a crime, right?


Hey Jesse thanks. Yeah I didn’t mean anything insulting by it. Just curious why they are rehashing content.

Never a crime to ask questions unless you’re a socialist, Marxist, hardcore liberal, or someone who wants to assert authority over people. I think Frank is at least 2 of the things I just listed at a minimum.

Dude is f—ing crazy for real. Not kidding I wonder if his mental condition is declining or if this is actually how he is as a person. Wild stuff.


One of the most iconic cars ever built! My dad's cousin had a 1986 AMG Hammer in all black with the factory kit. That car was badass. The one seat looks kind of weird. Would like to see the passenger seat the same. Very cool car!


I love these builds, top quality work and subtle, perfect