Factory Manual? 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E Sportline

When I was first gaining interest in cars, there was a Mercedes-Benz 190E that a handful of my friends took turns owning. This wasn’t a perfect 190E by any means, but it looked good, had plenty of character and also featured a manual transmission, so I became quite fond of it. It isn’t an easy task finding a 190E where you can row the gears on your own, making this 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E Sportline that’s available here on eBay quite a nice find.

This W201 is available in Olalla, Washington with a clean title. For those that don’t know, the Sportline was a sporty and limited-production trim offered by Mercedes-Benz for the final model year of the 190E which equipped the compact luxury sedan with Recaro seats, improved suspension, and some other upgrades. The seller claims that they searched for a long time to find a manual-equipped 190E Sportline, and I believe that, because I don’t think I have ever seen one until this auction.

The outside of the sedan looks good and the seller does disclose some of the imperfections, such as some small dings and flaws in the paint, but there is no serious damage to the body. There are a handful of aesthetic upgrades to the exterior, such as European-market headlights, 16-inch wheels from an S-Class with newer Continental Extreme Contact tires, and also bigger brakes from a W124-chassis Benz.

I’ve always found that Mercedes-Benz’s upholstery tends to hold up extremely well over time, and this is the case here. All of the seats look great and the 10-way power-adjustable front seats work without issue. Unfortunately, a previous owner removed the steering wheel that was exclusive to this package, but everything else remains original. Though this is a sporty luxury car, some amenities need attention or repair, such as the air conditioning system, cruise control, driver’s mirror adjuster, the original radio, and the sunroof.

Under the hood, there’s a 2.6-liter inline 6-cylinder M103 engine with 168,690 miles on it, which pairs to a 5-speed manual transmission to drive the rear wheels. The seller replaced the head gasket 3,000 miles ago, but supposedly, flushing the oil out from the cooling system takes multiple attempts on this engine, and there is still some in the coolant. Because of this, the seller will include a 3.2-liter M104 engine with the sale, but the buyer must personally arrange the pickup of the vehicle if they want the engine for free. If the potential buyer needs the vehicle shipped, they will need to arrange separate shipping costs for the engine via freight depot.

At the time of publication, bidding is at $4,550. Would you take a chance on this rare 190E, despite the work it needs?


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    So they put a head gasket in and didn’t have the head checked when it was off the car? I’m not buying the “just needs a coolant flush, but let me throw in a spare engine”story. It is most likely a cracked or warped head. Nonetheless, I would definitely pass on this flippermobile.

    Like 12
    • RayT Member

      It is a strange one: nice looking, but a whole bunch of things that need attention, all of which could be addressed fairly easily but could also be symptoms of deeper-seated problems. The looks and the added goodies suggest an interested, caring owner, but the list of “issues” suggests otherwise.

      I’ve never worked on these specific engines, but personal experience tells me that flushing coolant out of the oiling system might be more of a concern than the reverse. I’m with Bluetec320: when the head is off to replace the gasket, it’s folly not to have it checked. Completely.

      Clean and shiny as it is, I’d give this one a wide berth.

      Like 5
  2. Genemak1

    Nice looker. But I always say, do it right or don’t do it at all.

    Like 4
  3. Peter Durand

    If you ask me it’s a high risk engine buy that needs considerable engine reconditioning! $1500.00 is the most I’d pay for this particular Mercedes!

    Like 4
  4. Todd Zuercher

    I have never heard of this particular model before either. Nice looking car but……fixing all the issues will be a true labor of love.

    Like 0

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