Hey, welcome to the forum!
I think you'll find that the "quality" issue of the newer Mercedes models to be a hot topic around here that gets discussed, and probably the majority of those here feel the older ones are better. The 123's, 124's and 126's have large followings.
Don't be too shy to post frequently on the diesel forum. There are many, many guys from Texas that are "diesel heads". They also have get-togethers 2 or 3 times / year, and just had one not too long ago. It is also probably the most active section of the forum, too.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".