Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Hav­ing been an af­ford­able used car for well over a decade, older ex­am­ples have had plenty of time to be ne­glected or abused. Mercedes-Benz pro­vides ex­cel­lent spares and ser­vice sup­port, with many con­sum­ables priced com­pet­i­tively against third-party or OEM prod­ucts. Look for ev­i­dence of gen­uine parts used for wear items and con­sum­ables. A knowl­edge­able owner is a car­ing owner, and 190 prices are in­creas­ing, drag­ging the ne­glected but pol­ished up to lev­els that can secure a solid ex­am­ple with good prove­nance.


Mercedes did not gal­vanise its bod­ies un­til long af­ter the 190 ended pro­duc­tion, and although well pro­tected, when rust takes hold it can be hid­den by flex­i­ble un­der­seal un­til well ad­vanced and ex­pen­sive to re­pair. Check front sus­pen­sion mounts, jack­ing points, wind­screen and rear win­dow sur­rounds. Rear sub­frame mounts are well pro­tected, but if suf­fer­ing, rec­ti­fi­ca­tion is com­plex and ex­pen­sive. Cos­metic rust can af­fect doors badly at the base of the win­dows, and the plas­tic cladding can hide ac­ci­dent dam­age so check that it is cor­rectly se­cured. Nearly all UK ex­am­ples have a fac­tory-fit­ted sun­roof, adding blocked drain tubes to the sources of damp and sub­se­quent rust. Snapped three-pointed stars are not ex­pen­sive to re­place. Pay at­ten­tion to the large, up­right head­lights which are prone to stonechip­ping.


Dat­ing from a golden age of ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity in Mercedes run­ning gear, there are re­ally no bad en­gines with the 190. E de­notes fuel in­jec­tion, and the 2.0-litre M102 en­gine is a bet­ter match for the pre­ferred au­to­matic gear­box. Diesel mod­els, even tur­bos, are rel­a­tively slow, but ap­proach in­de­struc­tible re­li­a­bil­ity. Light and un­stressed, the driv­e­train takes high mileages well. The man­ual gear­box has a slightly baulky, rub­bery shift yet should swap ra­tios eas­ily, the au­to­matic fits the tra­di­tional model of smooth shifts and ef­fort­less driv­ing, and should cope with over 200,000 miles eas­ily with reg­u­lar fluid changes. Slight dif­fer­en­tial whine is com­mon over 80,000 miles. Clonks when en­gag­ing gear are of­ten due to worn sub­frame or diff bushes at the rear. Ex­ces­sive move­ment at the steer­ing wheel is usu­ally fixed with a steer­ing damper. Coils and shock ab­sorbers, of­ten past their best, can be swapped quickly with the cor­rect tools, and make a good bar­gain­ing point.


There are few ar­eas of in­te­rior trim or equip­ment to of­fer cause for con­cern. The 190’s sim­ple dash­board is of­ten dressed up with fake wood kits, with vari­able de­grees of taste and suc­cess, while UV dam­age and cracks are rare given the era of car. Par­cel shelf fade and warped door tops are more com­mon. MB-Tex vinyl in­te­ri­ors will out­last the car, leather is rare, fab­ric ma­te­rial re­mark­ably tough.


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