I have done a lot of work on our 190E, but it has 218k miles on it. I bought it for $1k from a wrecking yard. I looked very closely at the car. It needed a lot of work. A lot. But the basic structure (paint and body, major mechanicals were all good).
By fare the worse job in my opinion is the replacement of a leaking heater core or a shifter bushing. The heater core requires the whole dash has to come out. Not too technically challenging but takes a big block of time. The shifter bushing is extremely hard to get to. There are some tricks but a remarkable pain until you figure out an easy way.
Like any car make, there is a "repair culture" and with the 190, once understood, servicing isn't really too bad. I can take a rear door panel off now in 5 minutes.
I have been really enjoying the 2.3 litre engine. Yes only four cylinders but it has 130 hp. Once warm it can be driven quite hard and seems to be very reliable. Its body strength is impressive and I have come to really enjoy its handling. Great to drive aggressively finding myself very accurately placing the car in turns.
Regarding the trans, it starts in 2nd which really ends up not being a big deal once used to it. If you ever need 1st you just mash the gas pedal and it takes off.
Try to find one that has a great documented service history. It is definitely worth the search. The difference between a well taken care of 190 and one that was so so is significant.
I would buy another 190E 2.3 in a minute. I am impressed by this car and its overall durability.
'03 E320 Wagon-Sold
'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
'91 300E-Went to Ex
'65 911 Coupe (#302580)