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

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

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

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

1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

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

1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6


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

1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SE


$7,000 doesn’t get you a whole lot of new car these days, but it is surprising just how much old Mercedes it will buy you. In fact that’s the asking price for this W126 S-class. Produced between 1979 and 1991, the W126 represents the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz design and engineering from the period. Penned by the illustrious Bruno Sacco, it remains an extraordinarily handsome car, with taut lines and stately proportions. I saw one parked on the streets of Washington, DC the other day and literally got off my bike to stop and admire it for a few minutes. These cars are timeless and, even today, look perfectly at home parked in front of an embassy, ready to ferry a diplomat to some high level meeting.

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

Tuner Tuesday Pre-Merger Madness: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 and 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG 6.0

Such is the pedestal AMG products are placed upon, perhaps it’s only Ruf that is better regarded as the leading tuning firm from Germany in the 1980s. Combining revised suspension, special exhaust and warmed over motors, AMG managed to straddle the line between outrageous and tasteful in the 1980s perfectly with wild body modifications that somehow worked just perfectly. Inside, they were the most opulent German cars you could buy with power seats and all the luxury items you’d expect from a top-tier luxury manufacturers. But the bad boys from Affalterbach, like the Ruf cars, managed to be more than the sum of their parts – a total package that is still stunning today. They didn’t just bolt on a bunch of bits to make a go-faster car. AMG redefined the packages of the car, bringing them to another level. Today we have two examples to consider from the end of AMG’s independence – which is the perfect creation from the 1980s for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300SL with 35,000 Miles

The first modern classic that my father purchased when I was growing up was a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL. He had often talked about the SLs and how much he wanted one, so when an example of the W113 popped up he grabbed it. We shared many adventures in that car; I was a young teenager, and traveling to vintage car shows was a treat. Back then, although it was regarded as a pretty car, the W113 was already two generations old and was generally overlooked as a classic; indeed, it was easy to find plenty of clean examples well under $20,000. As the market progressed, times changed – the W113 came back into vogue as appreciation for the classic design matured into a greater market presence. It was no surprise, then, that the successor to the W113 – the R107 – slipped in value. To me, the R107 was always stuck a bit in no-man’s land. The W113 hadn’t been particularly sporty, but it was really quite a beautiful design. The R129 that replaced the R107, on the other hand, was a modern convertible with sporty engines and angular design language that brought the SL into modern times. So for many years the R107 languished, unappreciated despite the handsome if understated design and solid build quality. Languish it is no more, though; as the market begins to awaken to the classic style of the SL that carried Mercedes-Benz through two decades, prices have begun to rise – especially on pristine examples such as this Euro-market 1986 300SL:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300SL at The Last Detail

Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300CE “AMG”

We’ve seen before many times that the devil is in the details with the pre-merger AMG modified cars. Like Faberge eggs, they can look the part without actually being a real AMG modified car; but unlike the Faberge art the details of all of the early cars is not particularly well known or documented. So here is a fairly desirable, very clean W124 300CE – already a sought after car, especially with lower miles. Tack on the awesome looking AMG bits and you have one really great looking, desirable package. Despite this, it’s not likely authentic. There’s a line that it was factory equipped with the AMG body kit and sport suspension, and indeed if you scroll through the pictures there are the AMG-spec springs. Outside the AMG-spec body kit is one of the best looking available and really sharpens the lines of the W124 into a more aggressive stance. But is it a real AMG?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300CE “AMG” on eBay