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Youngtimerkauf: The cheapest Mercedes in Germany

Frank Herzog
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M an already misses it. The big 'pop' when releasing the foot parking brake. A typical Daimler ritual, celebrated before the start of each journey.

Old Mercedes are mostly kilometer kings

The unheard-of nonchalance of Mercedes driving off, supported by the automatic gliding through the backdrop Selector lever, the manganese-brown '86 190 E with 232,000 kilometers is not quite as confident. Before doing this, you only have to finger between the date-colored seats after the handbrake. The engine is still cold, it rattles after a long downtime - is it the hydraulic valve lifters, does it even have any? For only 790 euros it is a promising candidate for the self-chosen young timer contest 'Germany's cheapest Mercedes'.

It looks impressive, harmless rust can only be found under a few flaked paintwork, is almost as good as new inside, still has MOT until September 2010 and enchants with essential extras such as automatic, sliding roof and colored glass. As an important key stimulus for those infected with Mercedes, the attractive extra ensemble is joined by an unusually bright and extremely rare metallic color - manganese brown, code 480.

During the exuberant test drive in the late afternoon light, it kindles its entire mystical fire . Alexander Filin, used car dealer on Truderinger Strasse, a Munich car mile that is particularly popular with professional buyers, admits: 'I mainly took it in because of the color, which fascinated me. Together with the automatic and the flawless upholstery, one becomes ordinary 190s a car enthusiast. '

Exception: All customer services and all papers

Filin is a car connoisseur with a weakness for the special, sometimes the tall man with the friendly boy face speaks like a disguised car philosopher. For example when it comes to the nautic blue 230 GE automatic over behind its small sales pavilion - a short stop, only 83,000 kilometers, for 6,350 euros. 'A very special car', enthuses Filin, 'all customer services, all papers'.

He wants to make me and the photographer Frank Herzog a cheap star package price. The test drive is not only used to warm up the engine. The W 201 is a completely new temptation for me. Typical for the Baby-Benz from Bremen are also a body-hugging feeling of space that pinches a little under the armpits and an inherently good quality impression, that of the badtinny-sounding trunk lid and is only slightly tarnished by the doors that always have to be closed with force.

But even in the car, which is only 4.42 meters long and weighs 1,180 kilograms, the safe, secure and, above all, very familiar Mercedes feeling quickly emerges. It is rounded off by a dash of playful light-footedness. Even with only 122 hp, the car is incredibly agile and manageable, the formidable multi-link rear axle, that ingenious challenge to unsprung masses and a lack of track and camber stability, proud state-of-the-art of several Mercedes-Benz generations in the 201 it once celebrated its premiere.

The Sacco-Mercedes convince with their timeless objectivity

Unlike its more sedate brother W 124, the 190 is tempting to drive fast, to rob bends. It was also the forerunner of the factual, functional Sacco design. Its unadorned, cool and bold created a new standard, a Mercedes without the usual officer's tinsel. It turns out to be timeless, next to a Ford Sierra or an Audi 80 from the early eighties, the 190 E looks like a new car.

Despite the strangely retracted crest, angular wheel arches and a narrow silhouette. The rattling remains even when the engine is warm. The oil pressure drops alarmingly below a bar, the small orange needle trembles. Filin wants to have it checked in his main workshop, 700 euros, 'including a used cylinder head if need be', he implores us, but we're moving on again.

Over the gravel pitches of the Isar metropolis, the sun is beating down from the sky, barbecue smoke rises, glittering flags crackle in the wind. Everywhere we come across dozens of old Mercedes, 124 and 201, a colorful play of colors from a bygone era, from bornite to almandine. Spoiled owner pride - torn seat cheeks, red fine dust stickers on the diesels. Most are between 800 and 2,000 euros. Their price tags are ephemeral artifacts of multicultural fluency.

Iridescent sales promises praise the old star wearers

'Runs well, clean inside' is written on it or 'Driven by the old man'. One even writes about a heavily counted diamond-blue 260 E with velor 'only drives backwards'. A good twenty years after they left the marble Mercedes showroom with a bouquet of flowers on the passenger seat 'for their dear wife', they all bear the marks of the decades. Rust ulcers around antenna holes and trunk locks, welded jack supports, milky laminated glass edges, broken stars, shrunk door panels, smoothly rubbed steering wheels.

The highest odometer reading shows 482,000 kilometers. Silent traces of decay to which Mercedes, of all things, which are considered indestructible, seem so susceptible. They are because of their enormous distribution. Even a Golf II is becoming a rarity. More contemplative in this Russian momentGebhard Reiter rolls past us at walking pace. Age 190 E without side protection, red Augsburg number, two exhaust pipes, diamond blue paint. The car fits perfectly into our loot scheme, only the blackened taillights and the white indicators turn off.

Surcharge drops at 400 euros

Gebhard, himself a car dealer but active in the upscale segment, wants 500 euros from a Turkish buyer. He's on the phone for a long time with 'colleague', murmuring laconically 'three hundred and fifty'. With the presence of mind I hear myself say 'four hundred' - the third-hand 87 190 E 2.6 with 261,000 km on the odometer is mine.

Gebhard is increasingly thawing, wondering a little: 'Normally, despite Euro 2, nobody in this country buys a car like this. Too old, too many kilometers, I no longer ask myself that in the yard,' he says and is very happy to have found a German lover. 'The car is not bad,' he admits, 'it jolts a little when it is stationary and the electric sunroof does not work.' In the times of the scrappage bonus, it is a shameful price that suggests an ailing parts carrier, but not a lively, well-equipped premium compact car with a few annual rings around the strikingly accentuated wheel arches. Even a radio makes the agitated bargain hunter happy, with a distant whirring the electric antenna extends.

Quiet and cultivated, the 160 hp car starts moving. The accelerator pedal is difficult, also a typical Mercedes quirk, but the automatic shifts early and smoothly. Okay, he once had a hit in the back right, but somehow the little one is cute, with the original aluminum wheels and the cheeky blue exterior mirrors. I buy a vanilla miracle tree for the little cart, like an ice cream for a child. And a new, shiny two-six for the back, it deserves it.


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