Junk Or Save? Mercedes 190E

right rear

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Hagerty has listed the top twenty five vehicles likely to appreciate. The 1984–93 Mercedes-Benz 190 Class found its way onto their list. This example was donated to the museum. I’m not sure what year it is, so I’ll guess 1985. It has about 150,000 miles on the odometer. It was running and driving when it was parked. According to the license plate tag, it has been sitting since 2004. Can it be saved? Is it worth saving? The museum is not able to work on donated cars. Cars requiring smog inspection must pass before they can be sold. This Mercedes has not run in 10 years. It needs to be repaired and smogged in order to be sold in California. Otherwise, it has to be either sold out of state or junked.


The interior needs a good cleaning. It makes you wonder if this car was neglected before it was parked. There is no service history available. It could need lots of regular maintenance that was never done.


It looks like the paint could be in good condition under all the dirt. There is no sign of rust anywhere. I could gamble and spend a few hundred dollars on this to get it running and see if I can get it to a pass smog inspection. The museum could sell it for about $2,000 and they would then pay me back. If it won’t pass smog, I would be out the money. Do you think it’s worth the  gamble to try and save this car or should I just let it go? It’s a zero sum gamble for me (I don’t stand to gain anything except the museum would make a little more money). The ideal situation, of course, would be if an out of state buyer was willing to spend more than junk value for this Mercedes and save it. So, off to the scrap yard? It’s too old for the Mercedes yard (and too new) so it won’t be a likely candidate for parts.

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  1. Brakeservo

    I recently sold on B.A.T. what had to be the world’s absolute best 1984 Mercedes 190D – 5spd, low miles and ALL service records from New for $10,500 but this car at hand is an automatic, gas so no phenomenonal mileage and not a 16 valve so if it runs, I’d go $1500 on it.

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    • Dave Wright

      I watched yours sell with great interest……..you did great, who knew Brakeservo with a German car…..I would have expected a Rolls…….

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      • Brakeservo

        Hi Dave, well, I have, uh owned about 237 Bentley and Rolls Royce cars over the past thirty years, and quite a few of those I bought cheaply because they had brake trouble, almost always involving bad brakeservos. Years ago I paid an old Rolls-Royce apprenticed mechanic $50 to show me how to remove and rebuild the brakeservo, an investment that really paid off. But before that, I fooled around with Mercedes. In 1985 I moved from Santa Fe to Oregon. I arrived driving Watergate figure John Ehrlichman’s old 1959 Mercedes-Benz, a car I had rebuilt in my driveway during a Santa Fe winter. So I ‘ve also had quite a few Mercedes as well.

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  2. Dave Wright

    We could licence it here in Idaho. No smog in my county. This is a good color combination. There are a lot of these cars in the wrecking yards now, that lowers the value of the parts. If it has good compression it would be easy and cheep to get back on the road. My 85 190D is totally rust free and straight. The clear coat is coming off so it looks bad. It is the next in line for the paint shop. This car appears to have an automatic (?) too bad, a manual would be more fun. I would be a player if it had a manual.

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  3. Rodrigo

    Save it!!

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  4. Royal

    I wish I had this car. I would fix her up and keep her.

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  5. David

    Sadly, I’ve decided not to try. My friend who was going to help feels it would be just too much of an expensive gamble. It’s off to the crusher next week unless some out of state dealer wants to buy it and that’s not likely. Bummer.

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    • David

      I want some parts of the car.

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  6. Old man

    I’ll take it off your hands I have a dealers license so not worried about smog. Let me know…

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  7. DolphinMember

    A few of the cars on that Hagerty list have already appreciated in the last few years. Some of the rest might also appreciate, but they have all had a lot of time to appreciate and most of them have gone nowhere. For most of the cars, this list would not make me part with my money.

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  8. Luki

    One of if not The worst Benz cars ever.

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  9. audifan

    It has the old headlights, available in 1984 and 1985 only, no airbag which became standard in 1986 and 15 inch alloy wheels (14s for 1984). I’m 99% sure it’s a 1985 model.
    MBZ invested a lot of money to develop the W201. They wanted the same quality and safety as in the W124 and W140 and I think they succeeded. With proper maintenance a W201 can be a “lifetime” car.

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  10. John K

    Years ago I picked up one of these as a winter beater. It had at least 150K on it, and they were hard miles (mostly around the streets of Boston). I was really impressed by how tough that baby Benz was. I served a solid two years of winter duty in Maine – – a set of Blizzaks and it could hang with the best of them. The only issue I had was that it was slow as hell.

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  11. Djs

    Clean it detail it sell it for about 2,000 if it runs have systems checked and fix what it needs cool saytime runner ill buy it if its close to me

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  12. Bruce Joslen

    Brilliant cars. Let ‘Old Man’ save it.

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  13. Zaphod

    Send it to Lebanese taxi heaven

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  14. AMCFAN

    It is interesting to me how insurance companies (or whom ever) can predict the future in the collector car market.

    Ok this particular car is NOW featured on a “list” of future collectibles in an online insurance website. Suppose after reading everyone goes out and buys one because it could be the next 1970 Superbird?

    Don’t laugh. Remember those who bought the collector plates, beanie babies, collector toilet baskets, Nascar crap to the amazing $50 dollar gold collector coins that look like a silver dollar on TV but actual size when you receive it is smaller then a dime?

    Of coarse Hagerty is going to post all kinds of seemingly important yet informative information for you because they are an authority? No they are selling insurance. It makes perfect sense..

    The free collector car valuation is an example. Lets see….. What is my car worth? Click on make….alright….model…OK here we are! Oh…..that’s nice….Crap!..accidentally hit right click. What’s this? A free quote? Well as long as I am here what the Hell?

    It is about selling insurance. Anyone can think of a quirky car, go to Wikipedia copy and paste and they are an authority! College kids!

    Buy what YOU like and never rely on what any so called experts tells you it will be worth. It’s true value is what it is worth to you.

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  15. Bob S

    I quite like 190s, but I do find them very ugly to look at. Still, probably could be a great driver once refreshed. Sell out of State. Just drag it over the border and let it continue as a car.

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  16. Chebby

    This is perfect for a high school kid: get it for free, make it run, fix it up and have a nice ride with some pride in it.

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  17. Ray

    Where in California?

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  18. Boris

    That’s a four-door, so junk it unless it can be used for parts for a two-door.

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    • Jesse Mortensen JesseStaff

      Boris, you’re kidding right? There’s not exactly a lot of two-door 190s around…

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  19. Paul Bellefeuille

    There were 1.8 MILLION of these or variations of these built over the years..
    I’d see could find a parts-worthy one and start dismantling.. I already have a 420SEL that I’m parting out.. so I’d have to clear the garage first..lol

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    • rockribbedrushy

      Sounds like a good idea to part it out if you don’t use your garage for a garage. I have a car port that has a gravel floor and can be used to park my car out of the weather.
      I can always put up doors to keep out the snow.

      Great idea to make an income stream. Take ’em off a few at a time and put them up on ebay or craigslist, non?

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  20. Barski

    At $2k, there’s no meat left on the bone. At $1k, probably worth the hassle.

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  21. Dave W

    I’ve had 4 “fixer upper” 190Es over the years and lost money on every single one of them. The last one, a ’93 with the 2.3l 4 had the engine completely seize one day out of the blue. It had an external head gasket leak (oil) which is common on these as they age, but I was very careful to keep the oil up. Since this one’s an automatic (most were) and has no exciting options (not that there were any since it’s not 2.3-16) I would definitely pass on it. I love the look of the “baby benzes” but I think they’re overrated historically.

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  22. JC

    I just love 190s and think they are very well made cars. My daily driver is a 2,5 turbo diesel with 720 Mm on the odometer. I drive it everyday since 1998 and it’s a model of reliability. More, I love its really nice automatic box and its really nice to drive. Sunroof, Tempomat and Clim, it has everything I expect from a car to be enjoyable ;)

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  23. Tomasz

    It seems to be in quite good shape. Just only needs some care. Still good as a daily driver. MB W201s are solid and long-lasting not like todays plastics.

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