Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1985 Mercedes 190E

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
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rent lease sell or keep 1985 mercedes 190e

Before Lexus began it’s pursuit for perfection. Before Acura had built the Legend and seared the J.D. Power surveys. Even before there was such a thing as an ‘affordable sports sedan’. There was this car.

The Baby Benz was on the periphery of what was class-leading in the early-80’s, and what was clearly class-lagging by the early 90’s. It had great handling but… not a lot of power. Great pedigree but… not cheap at all for an entry level luxury car. Lots of features… but boy did it break your bank account when they broke. And break they did.

Rent: This car must have broke at least eight or nine people before I got it. The prior owners were my once and future customers. They had paid off about two-thirds of a Taurus when one of their jobs disappeared. I gave them weeks. Then a couple months. Then I just had to get the vehicle back. It was depressing. They were nice folks who had simply ran out of money.

I gave them a well-deserved credit boost and they returned the Taurus to the lot, which I then wholesaled for the remainder balance due. Two months later they came to my lot with this car. Let’s just say that renting a 26 year old vehicle with no air would not be the smartest thing to do these days. But financing a 21 year old car? As I always tell folks whenever they go car shopping… it’s not the car that’s important… it’s the owner. That is unless we’re talking about a Benz. They’re different. Very different.

Lease: Who in their right mind would finance a higher end vehicle that is this old? Well, my mentor did all the time. He used to take these old mini-Benzes along with W124’s, and finance them out the door for $600 down and $60 to $70 a week. He did this up to a couple of years ago when he decided to sell his garage and focus on the retail side. It was for healthy and sanity reasons (his employees were mostly nuts). Plus the A/C systems in these Benzes can’t survive a Georgia summer to save their asses from first base.

And God help you if you ever try to dismantle the factory alarm system. His shop had one that stayed benched in front of their repair business for 3 full months. Eventually he had a Benz dealer handle it… for more than it cost to buy the thing. Whether they are young or old. A true Benz is never cheap to own. Never.

Sell: Since it fails the low cost of ownership test that all finance vehicles must pass, I put it on the retail block. Aftermarket chrome wheels were already on it. The sun shined at just the right angle for picture taking. Sunny with a cloud. Plus it was gold in a way only a $300 paint job can offer. Did I mention how people always buy with their eyes? This one was city bound.

Four pictures on Craigslist and $1300 later, it was sold to a fellow whose return on his mouth had apparently doubled in the last year alone. The only with thing more gold than this guy’s mouth was Mr. T’s neck.

Keep?: Like a rolling virus. It sucks gas. Can barely haul it’s own…. but I will say it’s authentic The steering is still genuine old school Benz which is precise, involved and almost missile like on the road. It’s also cheap to keep here legally so long as you do-it-yourself and buy your junkyard parts by the pound. By the way. Us wacky Georgians have some very weird rules when it comes to cars.

A 1985 vehicle in the progressive state that is Georgia is exempt from emissions and title processing. You only need a bill of sale for anything older than a 1987 model. No inspections. Not even a cursory glance.

A signed contract and the ad valorem / tag fee is all you need. The ad valorem on this Benz will cost about the same as a case of Bud Light if you’re in the country… or three Frappucinos if you’re in Atlanta. It’s not bad at all to own an old car out here. But I can’t afford an old Benz. Once you put a pre-Euro version on the road it spends money like…well… a pre-recession American.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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2 of 19 comments
  • Vaujot Vaujot on Apr 21, 2011

    Terríble wheels! I am a bit puzzled by the remarks concerning reliability and cost of ownership. Over here in Germany, the W201 has a good reputation. Its even in the discussion among enthusiasts for last true Benz. Well maybe there's a difference between owning a Benz in the US and in Germany.

  • Jonathan Mizell Jonathan Mizell on May 06, 2011

    I feel like this is way off. You're trying to bash on a car thats over 20 years old and saying its expensive to fix? I bought mine for 1200, put about 2000 in parts in it and it drives like new. Though I can do most of the work myself I did swap in a 3.0L strait six from a 300E (Its a direct swap, same block bored over). The motor, with a referb head was 700 shipped. Midrange power is faster and it gets better mileage than most newer cars. Keep in mind it did this . . . 20 years ago. Buy a 20 year old Civic, see how that works out for you. How much is your car payment? Mines 0, and try and make a car go as fast for 3k. It eats my wifes 2011 civic for breakfast.

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  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriors
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.