I've been looking for a 240D with a manual tranny in decent shape for 3 or 4 years now. The ones I've seen don't compare to my 240D with an automatic, so I just keep this one. I live in the midwest. Maybe if I was in Cali, or florida, or texas, I could find one.
I owned a 1987 300SDL for 10 years, and I must say that the different between the cars is extensive, even though they were both diesels. The 87 needed a lot of work at 160 to 180K miles, and it wasn't really the type of work I could do. My 240 at 240kmiles has not needed the same parts, but when it needs something (usually minor), I have a pretty good chance of doing it myself.
This is a long way of saying that my perfect $3k MB would be a 240 with a manual tranny, or a 300D, with less than 150K miles, and no rust, ...