I am brand new here, but it's been about five years in the making.
It was sometime in 2005 (I think) when I was driving in an old neighbourhood and spotted a 1985 190e sitting in the back of a church parking lot with a faded for-sale sign in the window. Let's just say that it caught my eye. I had many occasions to drive the same route for the next six months and it was always there, buried deep in a snowbank throughout the winter, and still there in the spring, dirty and forlorn...ya I'm a sucker! So I stopped to look it over and copy down the phone number. The lady told me her sister had given it to her and she had just given up on it. I bought it for $500, was going to try to talk her down, but I just liked it too much to haggle.
It had rust holes, top-sides and underneath, 200,000 miles on the odometer, needed tires, exhaust, the lifters were louder than a freight train, but it wanted to run some more, and I took it in. Three oil changes later, with plenty of Marvel Mystery Oil added, lifters were silent, though timing chain sounded a bit loose. I put an exhaust system on it, new tires, patched holes in the underbody, tie rod end, etc, and got it legally on the road.
What I wasn't prepared for was just how civalized a car it was, even after 20 years and 200,000 miles of gross neglect in the northeast, and I fell in love with it... a fatal attraction!
I bought a wrecked parts car with the same interior and only 93,000 miles on it...with an engine so quiet you could sleep on it, a transmission that didn't slip, and I went wild on Ebay. I bought every last suspension piece and put them all on. I wanted to know what that car felt like when it was new. I up-graded with heavy duty struts, thicker sway bars, and when I was done it cornered like it was on rails, and sounded like a drum when it hit a bump, but it was hopelessly rusty when I bought it, and now it's gone way beyond.
Two weeks ago I bought a replacement. A 1986 190e, same color, (my favorite) gold, with 100,000 miles on it, never been hit, all original body work, no rust anywhere, even the springs and control arms are still black, and it runs great! It does have a few small issues, high/low beam switch doesn't work, tach and clock are "out", but I still have the other two cars, two extra of everything, and am really excited about putting the best example of every part I have on this new virtually "pristine" body.
Between you, me and anybody else that's listening, I think the w201 series is one of the prettiest cars ever designed, with a style that wears exceptionally well, even 25 years down the road, and I just love the way I feel when I'm driving it! Does that qualify me as an enthusiast?
Hope you all are as happy with yours as I am with mine!