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

2Year: 1991
Model: 300E
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 50,500 mi
Price: $4,900
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For sale is an Excellent condition Mercedes-Benz 300 E: – Interior and Exterior in Excellent almost mint condition! – Looks & drives great! – One owner – Always garaged – All scheduled maintenance – All records – A/C ice cold – New tires – Title in hand – No accidents – Must see!

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Perhaps it’s because these pictures were taken in the Florida sun, which makes the paintwork pop, but I think this car looks absolutely stunning. The relatively uncommon color of pearl gray (paint code 122) sits over matching gray leather instead of the usual MB-Tex. The paint looks to be shiny and free of imperfections, while the plastic lenses on the front fog lights, which usually cloud with age and exposure to the sun, look clean and clear (although if I were buying this car I’d probably swap them out for the nicer Euro-spec headlights anyway). The interior appears to be in similarly mint condition, with leather seats that look barely used, while the wood on the center stack and surrounding the gear lever appears to be glossy and crack free. Even the radio is still the stock Becker unit. The car presents as nicely as one would expect for a garage kept vehicle with an incredibly low 50k miles indicated on the odometer.

Powered by the 3.0 liter version of the M103 engine, generating about 180 hp and allied to a four speed automatic gearbox, this car will make for one pleasurable highway cruiser. The only major issues to watch out for are the various oil leaks to which the M103 engine is prone (and which usually culminate in a headgasket replacement at around 150k miles) and the biodegradable wiring harness issue that is peculiar to W124s – these harnesses degrade with time, not use, so the mileage is neither here nor there, and they are quite expensive to replace. Assuming it passes a PPI and is as clean in person as it appears online, for $5k this could be a very classy commuter that feels and drives like a much more expensive car.

– Craig

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12 Comments

  1. This car is too old for the biodegradable harness problem since that issue began around 1993. But you’re not off the hook for other expensive problems. All W124s are prone to A/C evaporator failure, for which replacement requires basically disassembly and removal of the entire dash.

    However, this car is definitely in good condition and is probably worth the asking price.

  2. DavidB: I did not know the harness issue affected only 1993+ cars. Thanks for that info.

  3. 1991 could have the harness issue. Car looks to have leather, which is uncommon.

    A good buy if it checks out… specifically harness and head gasket.

  4. In 1990 when soft leather was introduced in the W124 it was standard in the 300E, optional for 300E 2.6/2.8 and 300D.

  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it is……….
    Long story short, it’s neither a one owner Florida car, nor has it 50k miles.
    Here is the carfax:

    01/10/2012 45,990 Hank May’s Discount Tire & Auto Center
    Port Chester, NY
    914-937-0700
    hankmays.com Vehicle serviced
    Emissions or safety inspection performed
    01/10/2012 New York
    Inspection Station Passed safety inspection
    Emissions inspection performed

    View what was inspected
    10/29/2012 New York
    Motor Vehicle Dept.
    New York, NY Registration issued or renewed
    Titled or registered as
    personal vehicle
    Passed safety inspection
    01/09/2014 43,648 Mercedes Benz Of Greenwich
    Greenwich, CT
    203-869-2850
    mercedesbenzgreenwic
    h.com Battery replaced

    MILEAGE INCONSISTENCY

    The mileage reported here conflicts with this vehicle’s odometer history. Ask a mechanic or the seller to confirm the actual mileage – this entry may just be a clerical error.
    03/07/2015 48,662 Florida
    Motor Vehicle Dept. Vehicle purchase reported
    03/17/2015 Florida
    Motor Vehicle Dept.
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Title #0118182824 Title issued or updated
    Registration issued or renewed
    New owner reported
    Titled or registered as
    personal vehicle
    Vehicle color noted as Gray
    10/09/2015 50,551 Florida
    Motor Vehicle Dept.
    Pompano Beach, FL
    Title #0118182824 Vehicle purchase reported
    Title issued or updated
    Registration issued or renewed
    New owner reported
    Titled or registered as
    personal vehicle
    Vehicle color noted as Gray
    11/07/2015 51,544 Poinciana Car Wash & Lube
    Oakland Park, FL
    Oil and filter changed
    03/19/2016 56,556 Poinciana Car Wash & Lube
    Oakland Park, FL
    Oil and filter changed
    04/06/2016 57,001 Pep Boys
    Pompano Bch, FL
    954-784-7676
    pepboys.com Maintenance inspection completed
    Headlight(s) replaced
    06/30/2016 61,677 Poinciana Car Wash & Lube
    Oakland Park, FL
    Oil and filter changed

  6. Well, that’s certainly disappointing.

  7. re: 124 wiring harness:

    The issue is with the M104 twin cam engine – not the M103 single cam engine. The twin cam can be found in cars as early as 1990 – but that would be the 300SL (129 body) and 300CE (124 short body coupe). The twin cam did not appear in 124 sedan until the 1993 model year and in the sedan it is also found in later and renamed E320 sedans of ’94 and ’95. After that – new body and new V-6 engine.

  8. Audifan: thanks for the detective work. It is indeed a shame that this car does not appear to be what it seems.

  9. Sorry to see that it’s being misrepresented. I was seriously looking at picking this one up for a DD.

  10. The 51,500 odometer reading is the last entry on the Autocheck report for WDBEA30D7MB490999. Perhaps the seller thought that was a safe odometer reading to revisit for resale. I guess he didn’t bother to check Carfax.

    I think the car would have been equally valuable at an honest 62K mile reading. But once someone introduces odometer fraud into the equation, any confidence in the transaction is erased.

    I’ve emailed the seller asking about the discrepancy but I don’t expect to receive an answer.

  11. I’ve been trying to reach the seller via phone, email, and text with no success. Could you let me know if they respond?

  12. Nope, I have received no answer.

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