My 1987 Mercedes 190 2.0l Carb Auto Review
I have always fancied an old Mercedes from the 1980’s.
In fact, I like quite a lot of German metal from that era. It is the slab sided, straight lines solid look that resonates so much with me.
They feel solid and there’s a simplicity and no fuss nature of the switchgear and interior design.
There’s often an argument regarded as what is classed as luxurious.
Some may say luxury is about lots of gadgets and options ticked for a car, whereas others would it is considered design and materials that represent what luxury is.
For instance, I currently have a Toyota Camry, and while it is loaded with kit, extremely durable and wants for nothing, I would not call it luxurious.
The materials and design are just very average in the Toyota.
So, when I saw a blue 190 automatic for sale with barely any equipment, not even fuel injection and steel wheels I jumped at the chance to buy it, unseen obviously.
What struck a chord to me about the 190 was the considered design elements. It was Mercedes foray in to the smaller class of car, but it did not mean it was a mere afterthought.
It had the big car elements that had trickled down to a narrow-tracked saloon car.
The build quality was what you would expect of a German luxury car from the 1980’s. Solid, heavy steel, solid doors, upright, firm and steel sprung seats with reliability.
Everything about the car was solid. The switchgear to the glass light lenses.
I think it was 87000 or thereabouts.
Driving and Performance
For normal day to day driving it was an utter peach.
The 2 liter inline four engine was smooth and ran like a sewing machine. The performance was not fast, but it was not supposed to be. It was supposed to be adequate. Just enough.
The rear drive was predictable and even though it was a four speed auto, you could get the back end out.
I feel the engine was tuned for torque rather than out and out speed. Just for a reference 80mph was at 4,000 rpm.
Regarding the transmission, it was seamless. There was a sport and comfort mode.
Either option just encouraged relaxed and considered driving. This car would offer steady, brisk transport for many miles.
The steering was predictable and while powered, it was reassuringly firm and heavy. The steering wheel was like something from a battleship.
The suspension was advanced for the time, and soaked up the lumps and bumps with finesse. Highway driving was comfortable and long distances were a breeze.
On tight fast cornering there was a bit of body roll, but that was to be expected.
Behind the wheel
It was all very blue inside. Everything was very solid and firm. The switchgear was positive and everything had a positive action.
The kit list was not particularly high, it was very basic.
However, the design was strong with many straight masculine lines and this to me was more important than having a/c or alloys.
All of the dials and instrument cluster was clear to read and was refreshing when compared to modern cars which feature dials infotainment systems reeling off pointless information and digital displays with bewildering colors.
The wing mirrors are also different sizes, this is a deliberate and much lauded design feature whereby the common consensus with be fans of the brand was that the engineers beat the accountants.
Every design feature was for a reason.
Comfort & Features
Overall, it was reassuringly comfortable and spartan inside, the seats were firm, wide and supportive.
There was no lateral support for the corners but the seats were firm enough to cover long distances.
There was no air con but it did have dual heater and cooler controls, I always found the electric sunroof and front electric windows were enough.
There was the factory cassette player plus the original and unopened first aid kit.
Electric mirrors were good and there was the familiar multi function indicator stalk.
Alas, how could we forget the single windshield wiper? A technical masterpiece in itself.
I really liked being in the surroundings, it was light and airy which made up for the compact dimensions and had some wood detail which was very much of the period.
Another area of note, and just like the over engineered wing mirrors and wind shield wiper, the door seals were absurdly thick and kept everything whisper quiet.
Economy and running costs
I guess at the time I was getting about 30 miles per gallon.
The 2.0 liter engine only produced 90 bhp.
Plus, it was carb fed petrol, not a diesel.
I spent no money on the car whatsoever apart from fuel and cleaning it.
It was rock solid. The only issues I ever faced were more to do with age, rather than reliability.
In fact, I would go to say that I have suffered many more technical problems with more modern machinery.
The things that stuck out were:
- Slight bubbling under the front wings
- Bolster on the driver’s seat was worn
- The door cards had parted from the door near the top of the door just beneath the glass
All of which I am lead to believe are common issues.
However, the car was around twenty-six years old when I had it. That said, my Camry is twenty years old and there is not one fault or issue with it in terms of build quality or material quality.
- No bolster wear.
- No separation of the door card or insert
- No rust
Surely, with luxury we expect durability of the build and of the material quality?