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23,973 Miles: 1986 Mercedes 190E


Over the years, as cars come and go, there are always a few that stand out as highlights on your personal automobile roster. I previously owned a 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E, which was one of the more enjoyable used cars I ever drove. That’s why this super low-mileage example – an earlier 1986 car here on eBay – caught my eye, as it’s practically brand new with only 23,973 original miles. The seller has tackled a significant list of maintenance items and this 4-cylinder 190E looks ready to devour highway miles for years to come. The Buy-It-Now is $8,900 and it’s located in California. 


In the 190E lineup, the 2.3L four slots in between Mercedes’ diesel option and the smooth 2.6L inline-six cylinder. Although the bigger motor is more desirable, I always found the 2.3 to be a willing accomplice for highway cruising in the 80-100 m.p.h. range. Just like any other Mercedes, it was as smooth and as stable as could be. This example has benefited from new cooling system components, valve cover gasket, spark plugs, distributor, cap and rotor, muffler, tie rods, brakes and more – the list goes on and on.


Although simple in design, that was part of the attraction to the 190E interior. Straightforward HVAC controls, attractive wood trim and the indestructible Mercedes vinyl seating surfaces. The tan carpets are as clean as you’d expect for such a low-mileage example, and I’m pleased to see the original Becker headunit remains with the car. I would add some CoCo mats and the original Fischer Cassette Box in the console to round out the cockpit details, but otherwise I’d leave it alone. The A/C has been converted to R134 and operates as designed – no charge needed.


If you’re looking for a classic you can drive without worrying about killing its resale value, this W201-series Mercedes could be a solid option. They will never be hugely valuable, so it won’t break the bank to buy the best one you can afford (if we’re talking about the 2.3-16 that was breathed on by Cosworth, different story). The seller’s asking price isn’t out of line for the maintenance that’s been done, and the California climate has done wonders for the paint and body. Just throw on a set of European headlights – maybe some Bilsteins? – and drive it with confidence, every day.


  1. Dacosport

    This cars last forever. I’ve seen gas cars ( ok they drink too much, they are slow etc etc) with more than 500.000 kms with the original engine and trans. The diesel ones are rocks. If there is a nuclear war, two things will survive:cockroaches and this mercedes.
    I’ve seen a diesel with 1,5 million kms almost all original, but with its original engine and trans
    You won’t see that with new mercs

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    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      “If there is a nuclear war, two things will survive:cockroaches and this mercedes.”

      3 things. Cockroaches, this Mercedes and Keith Richards

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  2. Dave Wright

    I listed My 1985 190D as one of my favorite cars here some time ago and was pilloried by the respondents…,,,….it is an incredible car. Mercedes spent more money developing the 190 series cars than any other car they ever built to date. Handeling and brakes are incredible, off course, mine gets 40MPG. Parts are available if ever needed. The only trouble we have ever had is with the clear coat on the paint that we will fix when we open our new paint and body shop this fall. Mine is even the same color and has the same wheels as this one. Brakeservo just sold a very nice low mileage diesel on the other site for over 10,000……..these will be more appreciated with time. Now is the time to buy them.

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  3. Peter R

    Not too many of these had power seats which is an important option to my personal comfort – but they do drive like the bigger Mercedes models – much prefer the 2.6 6cyl. engine and you can find them for under $5k with reasonable (uner 100k) mileage. They do seem to last forever too so the low mileage on this one may not be worth the cost difference

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    • Dave Wright

      I have never seen a us spec car without power seats and Windows…….

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  4. Fiete T

    Never was a fan of these. Not even the 2.3-16 versions…on the used car market their value dropped faster & lower than used Acura’s of the same era. Somebody may collect these one day, but that’ll most probably be a small ‘cult’ group- which is cool, but just not for me

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    • Tirefriar

      Fiete, I wouldn’t be so rash in making that statement. 2.3-16 versions are rapidly gaining on E30 values, clean well maintained ones are already there. If this was a manual it would be gone already because these are appreciated by enthusiasts. Hence a bit high for an automatic car but still somewhat reasonable given a converted operational A/C and provided there’s no rust. This car should find a new owner with little trouble.

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  5. David

    I love all things Mercedes, but in the 1980s I always had “123” cars, 240s, 300s and never paid much attention to these. It seems I’ve missed something good and should have a look. There is a donated 190 in the shed at the museum. It hasn’t been driven for years. I’ll have another look.

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    • Dave Wright

      I was the same as you…….loved and still love the 123 cars but my 190D has made me a believer. It is a great car that was received better by Toyota drivers than old Mercedes guys like us when new.

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  6. Marc D

    This being my first comment to Barnfinds and have enjoyed the emails for over 3 years, having read all that has been said about this car and as nice as it is, its been damaged, check out the right rear wheel well lip, the dent above it and it looks like a the quarter panel may have been affected by this as well. Spent to much time in a body shop back in the 80’s, developed a eye for flaws and badly done auto body work.

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