I had a US 280E and bought a euro 280E to use for a manual 4-speed conversion. The climate control on the US car was kaka and I spent an afternoon looking at what would have to be ripped out and re-installed and concluded it was 'way too much work. I mean it made the 4-speed conversion pale in comparison.
But I agree totally with your premise that the manual is a better arrangement.
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe