Mercedes-Benz 190 (1983 – 1993) Review

Mercedes-Benz 190 (1983 – 1993) At A Glance


+Smart and compact Mercedes-Benz, excellent performance in six-cylinder form, and good value

-Cramped in the back, sluggish performance in diesel and basic 2.0-litre forms

During the late-1970s, Mercedes-Benz decided to add a third model line to its range. In uncertain financial times, the Stuttgart company felt the need to create a new entry-level model that would sit below the extremely popular W123 range - knowing that if the world economic situation became worse, it would have a product that was ready.

Mercedes-Benz did it in an inimitable style orchestrated by design chief Bruno Sacco. As it transpired, the  recession of the early 1980s wasn't as deep as it might have been, and Mercedes-Benz was free to develop its new 190-Series to fight its bitterest of rivals, the BMW 3-Series. The Merc proved to be a huge hit, with almost two million examples built in a production run that spanned more than a decade. The 190 is beginning to find favour in classic circles, thanks to a wide range of engines, solid build quality, and reliable day-to-day running. Nice examples are now being snapped up for what look like bargain prices but you'll struggle to find one for less than a grand.

Ask Honest John

Should I buy trade my Mercedes-Benz 190E in for a newer S-Class?

"I do one trip of about three non-winter months in the UK per year where I keep my Mercedes-Benz 190E (no problems) garaged. I am considering replacing it with a W221 S-Class. The car is home garage stored for nine months of the year. My budget is £8-14k. Is this a bad idea?"
I think you're asking for trouble, to be honest. An S-Class is a complicated car that won't like being stored for nine months of the year. I'd be tempted to keep the 190E - not only is it a much simpler car that'll be okay left for long periods, but it will also appreciate in value with a bit of care.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Should I import a classic from Japan?

"I want to buy a classic car and keep my day to day car, my wife doesn't agree. She thinks that because we're retired and do around 4000 miles a year, a good useable classic would cost less to run than two cars and be enjoyable to drive and look after. I've found a garage that imports Mercedes-Benz models from Japan, they say cars in Japan are very well looked after and have low mileage, the climate means rust is not common either. I've seen a Mercedes-Benz 190E with low mileage. Is there a drawback to buying such a vehicle? What should I be careful about?"
Your question raises quite a lot of points, so I'll do my best to deal with them one by one and offer some advice. Whether or not you can rely on a classic depends entirely what you're planning to use the car for and what kind of classic you buy. If you're not doing many miles, then in theory you could rely on a classic. But what sort of miles are they? Older cars don't really appreciate very short trips to the shop. Do you have to travel to see family? Or a holiday abroad? In these cases, you might appreciate creature comforts such as air-con and a good radio as well as improve fuel economy that modern engines offfer. And what's the plan if the worst happens? The garage that looks after your modern car may be just a few miles away and able to offer a replacement courtesy car. But which garage will look after your classic? And how will you get about while it's being looked after? These are old cars and you need to budget time and money for TLC. Classic cars are a great hobby. And if you choose something mechanically simple like a Morris Minor or Triumph Herald, you'll have the added pleasure and satisfaction of being able to tinker with it... if that's what you want to do. There's also an excellent social scene around them. Clubs that cater for MGs and Jaguars (just two examples from) have lots of events and meets you can attend. Will both your wife and you attend? Or will she need a car on days/weekends your away with your classic? As for importing a car from Japan, it's true these cars are often more rust free. But with a car like the Mercedes 190, which was well rust-proofed to begin with, you really shouldn't have any trouble finding a good one in the UK. Remember, low mileages aren't always a bonus with cars. We've had plenty of old cars that have caused more than their fair share of headaches because they were low-mileage. For example, if it's not been stored correctly, the fuel tank could corrode through lack of use causing rust flakes to gum up the fuel filter or get into the engine and cause problems. Insurance-wise, you'll find that most classic policies are competitive. This is because many impose mileage restrictions (which shouldn't bother you) but also because they expect you to have another car to do some of the heavy lifting.
Answered by Keith Moody

Where should I sell a Mercedes 190E?

"A friend has a 1992 one-owner Mercedes 190 1.8 automatic with very low mileage (under 50K). It has hardly been used for the last 11 years and was last started at least five years ago. Before then it ran perfectly well. It has been garaged in the dry all its life and has no accident damage. It has no MoT and is on a SORN. How and where should she go about selling it? Should it be sent to auction as it is or overhauled and MoTd first?"
While this is definitely an emerging modern classic, values are currently on the low side. If your friend can do the work themselves, then a runner will be worth more and be more attractive as a sale proposition than a car that's being sold as a project. If not, they could always get the car to a local garage for an inspection and a full quote of what's needed - in some way this may not be a bad idea as at least then any potential buyer will have an idea of what's required. In terms of selling, it depends on how much time your friend wants to invest. Maximum value will be achieved by placing adverts for the car on sites like eBay, Car and Classic... and we also have our own cars for sale listings. Social media is also an increasingly popular way of advertising cars and there is also traditional print titles: weeklies such as Classic Car Buyer and Classic Car Weekly, and an array of monthlies. As you can imagine, such wide coverage will generate a fair few phone calls. And, if the car stays as a non-runner, then there will be plenty of questions to answer (so try and cover off most of these in the advert listing). Sending it to an auction will reduce the hassle factor, but remember there will be a cost to include it in the sale and the auction company will take a percentage of the final price (or a minimum amount if it's low value). You'll also have to pay to get it transported.
Answered by Keith Moody

How much is my 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190 worth?

"I've got a tatty 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190 with a full MoT (though it has some advisories) and full service history. It has a rust hole in the front offside wing, a dodgy paint job on the rear nearside passenger door, and a crack in the windscreen. Any ideas what it might be worth? Would it make any difference if I got the door repainted and the hole in the wing fixed?"
Although Mercedes-Benz 190 make a great choice for a modern classics, they've still got a lot of ground to make up when it comes to prices. As such, projects can be had for as little as £500 while on-the-road examples in need of TLC tend to go for about £1250 - £1750. Head over to a dealer and you'll be paying £3000+ for the best examples. Have a look at some vehicles similar to yours and get some quotes in for the work you need. You might find that you'd be better off trying to sell it as it is - or you might find that investing some money in it now could pay dividends when the time comes to sell.
Answered by Keith Moody
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