Larry, for that price range he has got to be talking about the 124. I just purchased a '95 E320 with around 81k miles and I absolutely love it ($23.5k including tax). Prior to the purchase I test drove a C series 4 cylinder that was around '97/98 year model and the E320 made the C class ride like a truck.
I have a 33 mile drive to work (two red lights, two lane all the way) and I am getting right at 26mpg, which I think I can live with for awhile.
In addition, I have been reviewing the way things look under the hood and it looks like it will be easier to maintain than the Hondas and Toyotas that I have owned over the past 20 years. You can look at the design/engineering involved and you can tell a difference between the Japanese cars and the German cars as far as ease of getting to stuff.