More photos required but if this really is a one owner garaged CA car, you’ll have trouble beating it for $4500 even if you turn up some deferred maintenance needs. To be fair you’ll also have trouble beating anything other than it’s contemporary diesel brethren off the line.
Ha. Some good news is that it appears to be the 2.6 liter version, so at least you’ve got ~160 hp to work with. Another promising sign: original stickers on the windshield and side window glass. And I like that it appears to be riding on good German rubber (Continental tires).
It’s possible that this car is a good detail (plus maybe some wheel refinishing) away from being an outstanding example.
Sometimes poor quality craigslist ads like these are the best finds of all. You have to make some effort to learn whether or not the car’s actually any good – but if it is, then there aren’t twenty other people waiting in line to make an offer, so you can take your time, get a proper PPI, and then make an informed decision.
I once found a nice one-owner 240D this way and picked it up for $1400. Of course, that was a dozen years ago. But I think the principle holds true.
Definitely worth investigating if you’re interested in a good, original W201. They are very hard to find.
I have to echo your thoughts. A little detailing can make this 190E look stellar. Clean low mileage examples are few and far in between.
The period-correct license plate is also a good sign, indicating that it’s been in California its whole life and likely never seen salted roads or other harsh conditions.