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Which engine version would you recommend in the Mercedes-Benz 190 W201?

My mortgage payments finish this month and I would like to celebrate by fulfilling a long-standing wish to run a Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201). I would have this as a "keeper" and run it until either one of us reaches the finish line. I have read and saved many press articles written by yourself and other professional motoring journalists, such as James Ruppert of Bangernomics fame and now Autocar. My first thoughts are for an auto box, but am really unsure which engine other than 4-cylinder, unless you can let me know that the 6-cylinder 2.6-litre is not overly thirsty compared to the 2.0 and is by far and away the only long term winner. I understand that MB diesels are very long-lasting, given due care and attention (which I very much will), though a late LE 2.0 petrol sounds like my ideal car, if I can find one that suits.

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The one to go for is a 190E 2.6 auto, but they are highly sought after and prices have risen way past £10,000 for a really good, high spec, rust-free, lowish mileage one. Some useful information and links here:

Avoid Ks and Ls with catalytic converters.
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