As expected, there were plenty of attractive contenders, not least an Alfa 166 3.0, but the temptation of this Mercedes 190E was too strong to resist. Harking back to the era of monoblade windscreen wipers and airship-popping radio aerials seemed like an appropriate celebration of the fact that the new budget brings us comfortably back into the land of usable classics. Hurrah! As proof of that, the last decent 190E we featured was over four years ago. That's because sub-£1K specimens are rare now, their reputation for being 'the last properly made Merc' (yawn) having reversed the glacier-flow of asking prices back up the moraine of value, or something.
Anyway, the W201. It arrived in 1982 with a mission to take on the BMW 3 Series and lower the entry price of Mercedes ownership. With nearly 1.9 million sold, you could argue that it succeeded, even though many nations spurned it, regarding it (not entirely unfairly) as boring. You might think the same, but design genius Bruno Sacco rated it as one of his best efforts. That classically strait-laced body is what keeps it looking fresh today and, from most angles, certainly no worse than the contemporary E30 BMW.
The credit for what clever bits there were on the 190, like the cunning rear suspension arrangement, was usually matched by a debit elsewhere, in this case the area behind the front seats that would normally be occupied by the rear seat passengers' legs. It's still intended for that purpose, but you need legs like pipecleaners to fit in there, not giant legs such as those being dragged around by the human oil rig called Mrs Shed.
Being the 190E, this one has the 122hp version of the 1.8-litre slant four petrol plodder correctly mated to an auto gearbox rather than the muleish manual that Mercedes was kindly unloading on people at the time. Timing chains like to jump off the guides now and then, and injectors and head gaskets can fail just like they can in any car, but in general it's a pretty robust sort of drivetrain.
It's 25 years old, so despite the vendor's assurances about its solidity, the next owner would be mad not to watch out for approaching rust in areas like the boot floor, rear window frame, front strut top mounts, rear jacking points and the gearbox coolant pipe running from the top left corner of the radiator.
Apparently our Shed was SR in 2007, which may or may not be good news depending on what SR means. Given that the same family of doctors has owned it since 2000, we're going to go for 'sustained release', a medicinal term meaning a predetermined and consistent rate of drug administration.
Funny word, tranquil. Tranquil. Keep saying it. Tranquil. Mmm.
Ow. Put that bat down. Here's the ad. Oooh, it feels all posh.
1992 K reg Mercedes Benz 190E 1.8 AUTOMATIC, Blue with Cream cloth interior, 1 years MOT, 106,000 miles, Owned by same family of Doctors for last 17 years, 3 keepers, Garage kept hence rust free body and very clean interior, All old MOTs and lots of Service history. Electric windows, Mirrors and Sunroof, Power steering ABS, New rear brakes (need adjusting), was SR in 2007