I don't think you sent me my email yet.
There are a few VCR repair shops in Italy, I'll try to send it to one of them.
Anyway, WHV tapes were usually not low grade tapes. In Italy they started having hi-fi audio only from the late 80s, while in the UK for an example it happened earlier. MGM U/A tapes are really bad in Italy because they were outsourced to Panarecord (a local distribution) company, I use some of them to test the tracking. They did the same in Sweden with Esselte for an example.
Anyway my combo unit also came out the same year as the S VHS player, they even use the same remote layout (with a switch button to change to DVD IR codes). The reason why I wanted to upgrade to an S VHS player, other than the S Video output which isn't really relevant, is because the combos use an inferior control track head, trying to rip hi-fi audio or certain tapes becomes a nightmare.