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

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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

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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

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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

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

As some readers will know, while I toyed with the idea of replacing my W201 with another old Mercedes for daily driving duties, on a whim I went with a similar era BMW instead. My E34 is a fine car, but I really miss driving a Benz. For that reason I like to torture myself by browsing them online. Lately, I’ve been obsessed by the W126. There’s one always parked outside my apartment building in DC. It has rust, faded paint, a broken bumper and a broken headlight. You could say it’s pretty beaten up. And yet, I’m still charmed by it every time I see it. I often think about buying one myself. At the moment I have a very long commute, which rules out the V8s on grounds of fuel economy. The diesels have their own problems, leaving the 300SE/SEL. I wouldn’t exactly call these “frugal,” but they do offer the best fuel economy in the W126 without going down the diesel route.

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

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1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE

1I daily drive an E34 525i. I have to admit that while I like the BMW, I don’t love it. What I mean is: I haven’t developed the kind of visceral emotional attachment to it that I shared with my previous car, a 2.6 190E. There’s just something missing, and lately I’ve been thinking about getting back into an older Benz. It would have to be comfortable, safe, have a passenger airbag (a not unreasonable request from my wife), get fair gas mileage (ruling out V8s, sadly) and have that legendary Mercedes build quality that makes the doors close with a reassuring “thunk.” A W124 keeps coming to the top of my list. We went camping last weekend and spent a gorgeous few days out in the far western reaches of Maryland. While the E34 served us well, when I got home I kept thinking about how cool it would have been to have had a Mercedes wagon on the trip.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE on eBay

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Trio of Affordable W124s: 400E, 300D and 260E

1After I wrote up a nice looking W124 the other week, a few of our enterprising readers did some further digging and uncovered a number of discrepancies in the car’s history, suggesting it wasn’t such a great deal after all. To try to make up for it I’ve found three more examples of the venerable old E-class for consideration this week. What these cars have in common is that they all present nicely in the ads, appear to have been well cared for by their previous owners and are all priced very competitively. Hopefully at least one of these is a winner. First up is this white 400E.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 400E on Craigslist

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300E

3 In the past I’ve sung the praises of the W201 as a classy yet affordable daily driver (see here and here). But for some, the compact Baby Benz is just a little too small. The good news is that all the best features of the W201 – the classic styling, bank vault build quality and over-engineered platform that yields surprisingly high levels of crash protection  – can all be had in the roomier W124. Produced between 1984 and 1996, this generation of the E-class is in many ways the definitive 80s-era Benz: handsome, practical and built to outlive its owners. Indeed, since these cars are so long-lasting, there’s no shortage of them out there for sale, with a wide variety of examples available to suit all manner of tastes and budgets – sedans, wagons, coupes and convertibles, gas or diesel engines, hoopty or minter. Most of these fall on the affordable side (with the exception of the 500E super sedan), offering a lot of substance for very little money. This particular car is a fairly basic 300E, but it caught my eye because it ticks all the right boxes: a nice color, low miles and a good price.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300E on Autotrader

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1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

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It’s no secret that several of us here at GCFSB are fans of the W201. The last time I wrote one up, I mentioned my habit of scouring the internet for nice examples, a form of self-torment since losing my own car to an accident earlier this year. While the 2.3-16v Cosworths have some serious 80s DTM street-cred, most of the ones for sale are tired and in need of a lot of work. The Sportline models, a limited run of mostly stock W201s upgraded with stiffer suspension, tighter steering, lower ride height and some interior trim tweaks, are a tempting alternative. But sellers often demand large premiums for these cars on the basis of their relative scarcity. To tell you the truth, I don’t think they are worth the extra money. I test-drove one prior to buying my own 190, and I thought the harsher ride was ill-suited to the car. Since the engine and gearbox are unchanged from the ordinary models, the sporting pretensions of the Sportline just don’t make a lot of sense to me. No, to my mind the best W201s are the stock, low mileage and unmolested examples that show up from time to time in seemingly mint condition. They represent the W201 at its best: a classy but affordable form of basic transportation.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

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1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

White190E1

I intended to keep my 190E forever. Unfortunately, the snow bank that I hit after spinning off of the I-95 this past winter had other ideas. I walked away from the accident unscathed but my Baby Benz ended up in a ditch to the side of the road, the right front wheel pointed inward at a disconcerting angle. The front suspension was ruined and the frame slightly bent, but the rest of the car looked fine. I waited nervously for a few days to learn of the car’s fate: ultimately, the insurance company refused to pay for the necessary repairs and the car was totaled. I came very close to buying the wreck back and having it rebuilt, such was the strength of my emotional connection to the car. But calm reason prevailed and I let it go.

Nearly every day since then I search the internet for another one just like it. Apart from the color, this car for sale in Maryland is almost identical to the one I lost, even down to the mileage and condition.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay

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