1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E

Someone on the Facebook page recently said I tend to post cars in boring colors like black, silver or gray. They are not wrong. It’s hard to find the models I like in anything else. There are some great exceptions, of course. BMW has some really neat colors available through its Individual program (my favorite is Velvet Blue). But there’s no getting around it; most of my favorite 80s and 90s German cars left the factory with conservative paint jobs. That’s likely no accident. Staid colors are generally well suited to the lines of the cars, especially since the design language of the period was itself quite conservative. Still, I feel under an obligation to find you all some more interesting colors. And this is my opening gambit: a 300E in Crystal Green (256). The W124 can be had for very little money these days, and used as a cheap runaround until it clocks at least half a million miles. Yet it still offers the luxury, solidity and build quality that earned Mercedes its reputation for making some of the best cars in the world.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E

Double Take: Mercedes-Benz 300SE

I planned to leave the W126 300SE alone for a while since I’ve posted quite a number of these over the last few months. But I couldn’t resist when I noticed not one, but two really nice examples pop up on eBay this week. While these short wheelbase, six cylinder cars are often overlooked in favor of the 420 and 560 SEL, they offer all the class and sophistication of the larger models with somewhat lower running costs, making the 300 a nice entry point for W126 ownership. They certainly don’t have the power of the V8. But on the plus side, the M103 motor is famously stout and will run forever without needing too much work. The only real weak spot is the headgasket, which tends to need replacing every 150k miles or so. I’ve test-driven a few of these recently myself, and I was pleasantly surprised by the driving experience. The 3.0 liter engine provided more shove on the backroads than I was expecting, certainly enough to get the car moving, even if it won’t win any drag races. And out on the highway it cruised effortlessly, which is what these cars are all about.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

Time for another of my wistful W126 posts. Although it’s generally seen as less desirable than the V-8 powered 420SEL and the 560SEL, I think the short wheelbase 300SE remains the hidden gem in the W126 lineup (though not for much longer if I keep posting them, I guess.) It’s not quick off the line, but that’s sort of besides the point. These are for cruising along on the interstate at 70MPH in quiet comfort, and a six cylinder model will do that just as well as a V8 while returning slightly better gas mileage (maybe 20MPG on the highway, if babied). There’s nothing quite like the way these feel. When the door shuts with a satisfying thunk like only a 1980s Mercedes door can, and you slide yourself into the helm and stare down the long hood to see the three pointed star at the end, you feel richer than your true bank balance suggests. It’s quite intoxicating.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

I continue to keep an eye on the W126 market. Mint examples of the V8-powered 560SEL can sell for as much as $20k, though higher mileage examples that are rougher around the edges can be had for just a few grand. The W126 hasn’t yet achieved collector status – there are probably too many of them out there – but they remain an attractive proposition for those who want a luxurious, usable car for not too much money. This version of the S-class perhaps marked a watershed moment in Mercedes-Benz history, being among the last cars built to a standard rather than cost. I’ve written before about my love for the short wheelbase, six cylinder version, the 300SE. Though generally less desirable (and therefore cheaper) than the V8 420s and 560s, occasionally a really nice one pops up for sale with a higher price tag attached.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on Raleigh, NC Craigslist

Double Take: Mercedes-Benz 300CE – One cheap, one not so much

To some, the W124 might look like just another Stuttgart taxicab. But to those in the know, the 80s/90s era E-class stands for all those traits that once made Mercedes-Benzes the best cars in the world: over-engineered, incredibly safe (for the time) and remarkably durable, capable of cracking over half a million miles if properly cared for. While I’ve written up a number of sedans in the past, I haven’t posted many coupes. That’s a regrettable omission; the coupe offers all of the aforementioned characteristics only repackaged into a stylish, pillarless two-door body shape. The 300CE, produced between 1987 and 1995, was built on a slightly shortened version of the sedan chassis. Initially powered by the SOHC 12v, 3.0 liter version of the M103 engine – good for about 180 hp – cars sold from 1990 onwards came with the DOHC 24v M104 motor instead, pushing output to around 217 hp.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE on Ft. Myers, FL Craigslist

1991 Mercedes-Benz 300TE

Recently I took a look at an E39 Touring M-Sport, explaining how I’d finally come to see the appeal of the load lugging variants of my favorite German sedans. I couldn’t possibly leave things there without taking a look at the W124 estate. There’s one parked near where I live that proudly displays Mercedes “high mileage” award emblems in its grille. I’m not surprised. Practical and durable, the W124 possesses the kind of old school Mercedes build quality that leads many of their original owners to hang onto them for as long as possible.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300TE on eBay

1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

1The other day I wrote up a Euro-Spec 190E 2.3-16, noting that the seller must have good taste in cars since there was a W126 pictured in the background. It turns out that W126 is also for sale. It’s a 300SE. These are my favorite old Benzes. Imposing and timeless, these old S-classes still look beautiful today and remind you of an era when Mercedes built stately cars of bank-vault solidity. It’s a real treat to see one in mint condition, which is not that uncommon. Many of the original, wealthy owners have held on to these since new and maintained them at whatever cost necessary. Looking like it just rolled out of the factory, this appears to be such a car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

The W126 generation S-class is stately and sublime, hailing from an era in which Mercedes built their cars to standard rather than cost. These cars offer graceful and classic MB styling, tank-like solidity and a relaxing and comfortable driving experience. The good news for anyone looking to pick one up today is that there’s a car out there to suit every budget. You can find everything from two grand hoopties to $20k+ museum pieces. While the 560SEL, the unadulterated, full-cream model, might be the most obvious choice for those looking for an 80s German luxury car, I’m often tempted by the more humble 300SE. The short wheelbase model is arguably prettier and better proportioned than the SEL, and the six cylinder engine in the 300 is cheaper to run and maintain than the V8s in the larger models.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

You know that feeling you get when you stumble across a car that resembles one you used to own, and now sorely miss? That pang, deep down in your stomach, of gut-wrenching remorse that you let it go, mixed with familiarity and excitement (“hello, old friend”), and the irrational urge to buy another car just like your old one, even though you probably shouldn’t (because: reasons)? I got that feeling when I saw this listing for a 190E. Outwardly it looks almost identical to my old baby benz, whose life ended ignominiously and prematurely in a ditch to the side of the I-95 on a cold, icy day in February. I still think about that car. This is my “one that got away.” If I hadn’t crashed it I would have kept it forever, because the W201 is the best kept secret in the world of cheap daily drivers that still, after all this time, feel expensive and luxurious. (A side note: after the insurance adjuster told me he was going to total it, a mechanic who was observing the scene, and who must have noticed the sadness on my face – as well as a lucrative opportunity – pulled me to one side to say he could probably rebuild it for less than the cost the adjuster had estimated, if I wanted. But because I was exhausted, broke and feeling upset and confused, talking to an unfamiliar mechanic who I was not sure I could trust, I said no. I should have said yes.)

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE AMG Mosselman Twin Turbo

There is a fairly substantial problem with pre-merger AMG products: documentation. At this point, the newest of the pre-merger cars are on the verge of being considered antiques in many states, and with Mercedes-Benz takeover of the Affalterbach company, much of the documentation of the early models production numbers is lacking. They’ve often changed hands multiple times as styles and tastes have changed, and the paperwork accompanying their builds isn’t always present. Further complicating this was the model that AMG followed. Unlike, say, a Ruf BTR, there was no specific mold to most of the AMG products. Instead, individual taste and monetary resources determined how many of the à la carte options would be tailored to your individual Mercedes-Benz. Also unusual was the AMG authorized dealer-installed model, which meant that you could get an authentic AMG install in California, for example. You could also apparently claim your AMG heritage with as little as three accessories installed, leaving a broad interpretation of what makes a “true” AMG build. Lastly, the popularity – especially in recent years – of AMG products means that there are a plethora of replica kits and pieces that are available. And, at first glance, this W124 would seem to be the product of just that – replete with “custom” AMG seatbelt covers and an ill-fitting C126 hood conversion, for example. But this W124 is much more:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE Mosselman Twin-Turbo on eBay