I’m sure I’m not the only person who wants both an analog experience in my car along with having the ease of DIY on most everything, but also wants modern tech and these crazy new safety features called airbags. Case in point, my Mercedes-Benz W116 and W123 are both simple enough that I can diagnose and fix almost anything on the entire car in my home garage, but their main safety features are headrests and a padded steering wheel. If you go to the other end with a newer Mercedes-Benz diesel, you see cryptic messages on your infotainment screen saying the car isn’t going to restart unless you fill the tank up with AdBlue fluid, but hey, at least the car will literally steer itself in between the lane lines while you are frantically Googling on your phone what the hell AdBlue fluid is. So is there a happy medium? Well, I think I have one option.
The W210 is a very fine chassis in my eyes. Granted, I’m biased as I own one, but they are seemingly sturdy cars as long as you keep them away from constant moisture and salt. All the gas engines in car are equally as fine, but thankfully the US market was blessed with a gem of a diesel, the OM606. This 3.0 liter inline-six replaced the OM603, which replaced the OM617, so we have good lineage here. It was available in turbo and non-turbo, with today’s car I want to look at, a 1997 E300, being the non-turbo. Much like Mercedes diesels of past, this one has a lot of miles, but probably also has good years left in it as well.