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1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

When I got my first job out of grad school, I needed a cheap daily driver to commute to work. Everyone told me to just buy a Honda and be done with it. But I knew that wasn’t going to work. I wanted something unusual, safe, classy and preferably German. And that’s how I came to buy a W201. I didn’t really know much about them at the time. But a nice looking example popped up for sale near me, and as soon as I drove it I was hooked. The 190E rides like a shrunken S-class: luxurious, sturdy and solid. The straight six motor is creamy and robust. And the design of the car is really quite handsome, under-appreciated even, especially when seen from the rear three-quarter angle. True, the 190E is not fast, the KE-Jetronic fuel injection system is a real pain when it goes wrong and, owing to the gearing on the old school four-speed automatic, the 2.6 is not as fuel efficient as it should be (the 2.3 isn’t much better either). Still, a nicely kept W201 can be a neat and satisfying entry point into budget-friendly German motoring. Provided you pick a good one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on Central NJ Craigslist

Year: 1992
Model: 190E
Engine: 2.6 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 134,000 mi
Price: $5,000

Selling my ’92 Mercedes 190E 2.6 with 134,000 miles. Originally from California without any rust, this car has been meticulously maintained and garaged for most of its life. I’m the 3rd owner and I have a large file with all maintenance records since new. Mechanically it has no issues and no cost was spared. Cosmetically looks great with an excellent MB-TEX interior. The only thing not original to the car is the stereo. Everything is operational in the car, and it’s been my daily driver (except in the winter).

I am a Mercedes enthusiast, especially from this era. I have addressed most of the basic and preventative maintenance, so the next owner will inherit a solid, smooth and reliable ride.

Below is a list of most repairs performed in the last year and a half:

  • Ignition tumbler (with key)
  • Four tires
  • Four Bilstein shocks
  • Front wheel bearings
  • Engine mounts
  • Muffler
  • Heater core
  • Radiator & antifreeze flush
  • Water pump
  • Power steering pump
  • Drive belt & tensioner
  • Alternator
  • Battery
  • AC refill
  • Euro headlights
  • Bosch spark plugs
  • Sunroof/antenna/mono wiper system/window regulators have all been lubed with synthetic grease to prevent issues. All door jams, trunk lid and hood as well.

Four snow tires installed and balanced in a matching rim set to be included with the sale.

Only selling it because my work commute will increase significantly. Hoping to find someone who appreciates this car as I have and will take good care of it.

This car presents very nicely in what appears to be Diamond Blue (355) over a gray MB-Tex interior. Being a 1992 model, it has the slightly smaller, more modern looking steering wheel and zebrano wood trim on the dash. Everything appears stock except for an aftermarket radio. The exterior of the car has been gently updated with Euro-spec headlights. These look better and throw out more light than their US-spec equivalents.

The M103 motor on this car has 134,000 miles under its belt, and is said to be in excellent mechanical condition. These engines will easily crack half a million miles or more, so there should be plenty of life left in it. A known weakness is the headgasket, which tends to let go somewhere around 150k miles and spew oil all over the block. A/C work can also be very expensive on these – the air is routed via a network of vacuum-actuated pods that lie hidden deep underneath the dash and fail over time, requiring everything to be torn out –  so potential buyers should check that the system functions correctly.

The asking price of $5,000 is a little on the high side. Much to the chagrin of W201 fans like myself, these cars have never really caught on like the E30 3-series. Prices have therefore remained very low (with the exception of the 16v Cosworth), and it’s not unusual to find these on Craigslist for a few grand. Still, this car is clean, appears to have been well maintained by an enthusiast owner and it comes with an extra set of rims and snow tires. That’s not such a bad deal in the end.

– Craig


  1. rick ambrose
    rick ambrose July 21, 2017

    The w201 may be the best car ever built. It does everything better than you expect. Having restored SIX of these, I can say from personal experience that gas mileage is good (mid 20’s/2.6) and better for the 2.3.
    Both versions drive the same once above 40mph – the 2.6 just gets there faster. The estimated 0-60 in this 2.6 is 7.8 – not bad. Plenty of room front and back, enormous useable trunk and a great ride with fully independent and multilink suspension.

    The zebrano shown in the photo was not limited to 1992; it was in every US standard version since 1984 thru 1993. Maintenance and parts are relatively cheap and readily available.

    $5000 for a 134k mileage example in this condition approaches a bargain. To say the crap on Craiglist for a grand compares to this is just not fair.

    Mercedes spent over $1B developing this car and by the company’s own admission it was over-engineered.
    If I didn’t already have all my garages filled I would jump on this one immediately. Remember – pay as much as you possibly can for the best example you can find – it is so much cheaper.

  2. Craig
    Craig July 21, 2017

    Thanks for the insights Rick.

    My 2.6 never seemed to get above 20 MPG even with mostly highway driving. That was on premium gas, which the manual said was required. After a couple of years of driving, it was probably due for a tune up and a new set of injectors – perhaps that would have improved the fuel mileage. Sadly, I crashed the car before I had the chance to do the work, and it ended up in this sorry state:

    It died too young!

    As for prices, I bought mine with 62k miles for $3,400 back in 2013, and it was practically in mint condition (all it needed was a new hood pad and set of aux fans – I noticed the A/C wasn’t cooling at idle). Admittedly, that was an exceptionally good price, a real bargain. It had been advertised on Craigslist for $4,200 but had no takers, so the seller accepted my lower offer. I think that’s the problem with these 190s. There aren’t many people looking for them, so they tend to sit unsold for a while until the right buyer comes along.

  3. Brad
    Brad July 21, 2017

    Wonderful. Girlfriend in college had a new one back then, red with black interior. For my taste this one would be perfect with a beige interior.

  4. Kristian Castellano
    Kristian Castellano July 30, 2017

    The W201, I have to agree as mentioned above, is on par with the 123,124,126 as the best vehicles ever built. Their engineering & reliability is above average if properly maintained & AS SAFE as a 2017 compact car.

    For 3-5K $ for a modern W201 MB properly maintained is 1/3 the peice of the entry level Ford Fiesta. You get 10x the reward out this car & puts a smile on my face when I see well maintained survivors like this.
    Anyone who purchases this 4-5K $ will walk away a HAPPY PERSON.

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