1980 240D with 4 speed manual, purchased about a month ago. Having lots of fun driving a manual on a regular basis again, after 15 years with automatics.
As for longevity of auto boxes, the one in my 99 E300 was just rebuild at 88K miles.
A lot of the credit for the E300's performance should go to the awesome 5 speed auto transmission. But I may have to be gentler with it from now on, because there's only 10K miles of warranty left and I don't want to pay for another rebuild anytime soon!