There was something just right about the way the 190E departed. You see, it lead a varied life, starting it back in 1992 traversing Scottish glens, only to be sold down south to spend some time by the sea in Bournemouth. And, after a short time experiencing the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke with me, it's back off to Aberdeen, and in good hands.
The new owner was a Mercedes employee for some 25 years, apparently, and owns not only another 190E, but also three SLs and an SLK - let's not mention that last one again. He had a weakness for pretty, white 190s he said, and the next day it was on the back of a transporter heading north. In the end, after two months of patiently putting up with plenty of tyre kicking, head scratching and time wasting, it went for slightly more than I paid for it. Overall I'm still down, of course, but all in I reckon owning the 190E for nine months has cost me around £400, and it's been superb fun.
Utter the name 190E among car folk and out come the rose-tinted specs, and so too do anecdotes of either happy ownership or at the very least positive experiences. For me, it was all of the above. Having now owned three 1990s cars of a similar age and mileage, the little 190E was by far the best screwed-together inside. Sure, there were some issues with starting in the cold, but that improved greatly with a new coolant temperature sensor, and it never let me down.
It was a car, too, that improved with speed. Around town, its modest 1.8-litre engine and simple automatic gearbox didn't like each other much, but join the motorway and the 190E showed exceptional high-speed stability. However, ride quality was very good at any speed, and only improved further with the addition of a new set of Avon ZT5 tyres. Handling was never the car's forte, the main culprit being its lethargic steering and pronounced body lean, but grip was surprisingly high with the new rubber fitted.
And, after some new paint in places, a full machine polish and refurbed wheel caps, it became a very nice thing to behold, too. That is until colleague Will Nightingale decided he'd buy a Series III Lotus Esprit Turbo - it never did look quite a nice with that around the place. All in all, I'm sad to see it go. The Jaguar XJ made you feel the most special, my E34 BMW 5 Series had the sweetest engine, but the 190E was by far the best all-round package
But where to go from here? Well, I've been searching the classifieds and decided it's time to up my cylinder game, maybe to the tune of eight or more and with a budget of around £1500. That narrows the choice somewhat, but I've got my eye on a few possibilities. I'll be back soon with an empty wallet and a big smile on my face.