If by price in the equation you mean cost of maintenance/repair, I've not found my 124 to be all that expensive to repair or maintain. Maybe I'm numb to the costs, having owned an Audi quattro and a Benz 300D in the past. However, my wife drives a later-vintage Honda and the repair/maintenance costs per item and procedure on that vehicle are comparable to the costs on my Benz. The build quality is not comparable, in my view (or that of most other forum regulars from what I can tell). I also keep some costs down by doing some work myself.
If you're talking about purchase price, in my case, I firmly believe that even though my car is older than hers, the fact that she paid more than twice what I paid for her Honda - a somewhat inferior example of automotive engineering - makes me wonder why more people haven't figured this out (driving the Benz resale prices higher) and have learned to stop making payments on cars that they can't expect to last as long and provide as much pleasure all the while.
Just my little way of thinkin'.
2003 Dodge Durango SLT
2002 BMW E39 530i Sport
1988 Mercedes 300TE
2003 Chevrolet Suburban