In an effort to make cars more eco-friendly, Mercedes (along with several other car manufacturers) decided to use a biodegradable plastic to use as insulation for the cables. These cables connect to sensors that control essential components such as the computer, transmission, braking, steering, emissions, fuel, lights, locks, air conditioning, stereo, etc... Some 18 years later and that insulation around the cables is well on it's way to bio-degradation. So much so that if the bundle is disturbed by any movement, the cracked insulation turns to dust exposing bare wires. When those exposed wires touch - boom!
So this new Mercedes 190E is an older, 1989, 1.8 litre manual model with working sunroof, windows, mirrors, radio and speakers! It also has half the mileage of the 320E and no rust (always a good thing!)