This was my first ever purchase from eBay. I bought it blind, having won the auction and took a train to go and get it. It looked good. I drove it the 50 miles home and it went well, although there was a slight blow in the exhaust.
I got to it the next day, giving it a full service and a polish. EBay is a mine of old and new car parts, particularly those annoying little trim items that are no longer in the dealers stores.
I bought new chrome blades to go across the outside of the front grill, which I removed to spray matt black, a new leather gearstick gaiter, clear front indicator lenses and orange bulbs, white xenon headlight bulbs, smoked side repeater lenses, smoked rear light covers from Italy, and various pipes and hoses. All were cheap and brand new and fitted perfectly.
The exhaust was a bit different, it was the front section with the Cat in it and that was definitely not cheap. I got the front ball joints replaced, along with the wheel bearings and brake discs and pads and even changed the oil in the tiny, fist sized rear diff. I had the windscreen replaced with a blue top tint one, taking the opportunity to put some Hammerite around the lip of the windscreen surround, before the new rubber and glass was fitted. Oh, and a new set of tyres.
With that lot done, I just drove it. And drove it for 3 1/2 years without a hitch! It drove like new, even though the speedo said 120,000 I think it had done a fair few more miles than that, as the numbers didn’t line up. It didn’t matter, these cars had a well earned reputation of longevity and mine was testament to that fact. It never failed to start or stop in all weathers, including snow, when it did remarkably well with 2 bags of sand in the front of the boot for extra weight and traction.
Pulling up at traffic lights, I would smile through the 3 pointed star that stuck proudly up above the bonnet at Porsches and the like, it just made you feel like that. Partly because it was a Merc and partly because I had bought a classy car, with no loan, for less than the price of a set of their tyres!
It kind of looked dark, menacing and purposeful, particularly with those blacked out rear lights. The tyres I had fitted were not standard and filled the arches nicely. Though the acceleration and handling could only be best described as ‘crisp’, it was inspiring and fun to drive. The unworn chequered cloth covered bucket seats hugged you in place, giving you even more confidence in the car’s ability to do your bidding.
The 190 was Mercedes first compact executive car and the smallest 4 door they had ever made. It shouted their reputation for over engineering with every one of the 1.8 million models that it sold. People loved them. They weren’t cheap when new, but did mean that once you’d stumped up the cash and bought one, you didn’t have to change your car for the foreseeable future, or beyond. The larger 2.6 litre engined auto was the autobahn cruiser of choice for crossing continents for many years.
They had great success on the race track as well, in all their souped up forms. Specials were available, built to the same spec as their race bred cousins – the 190 2.6 16v and 2.5 16v Cosworth being the closest things you could legally get on the road. They were fast and reliable and in their time, with all their skirts and spoilers, looked the absolute nuts. In 1983, they used a few to tear around the track at Nardi, nonstop for 50,000km at an average speed of 154mph. They just didn’t break.
I loved mine and the only thing that made me sell it in the end, was that around the rear lights, under those smoked lenses where you couldn’t see, the rust had started to bite. That and the fact that the gearbox was finally starting to whine and the rear door cards had come away and frayed at the top – a common fault on that model, one of the few.
It wouldn’t have been vastly expensive to put right, though door cards, unlike normal service items, were ridiculously over priced from Mercedes, but I decided that I’d spent enough money on it over the years and that you had to stop somewhere.
I resold it on eBay for more than I had originally paid for it, if you take out all the bits and bobs I had done and not including the service items. You can’t do better than that really.