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Old 03-05-2000, 05:17 PM
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Whats the Best buy for under $10k? Main considerations are; 1) Reliability, 2) Resale , and 3) Performance (I know this should be first, but...). I'm up in the Northwest so rain is a daily event, other than that I'm game, any idea's? Great post, very helpful!
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Old 03-05-2000, 05:42 PM
Aaron's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935

I would have to say that a 240D is your best bet in ultimate reliability, but if you want pretty decent performance, a 123 chassis 300D Turbodiesel ('82-'85) is your best bet. Many of these cars have already accumulated higher mileages but if you can locate one with a nice solid body from out west or down south, I'd go for it. The OM617 Turbodiesel engine is excellent on fuel economy and reliability as well. The only problem which you could experience would be with the automatic climate control, but otherwise, it's one heck of a great car. I would shoot for one in the 120-150,000 mile range with service history to back it up. You can easily see 300,000+ miles out of one of these cars with regular maintenance. You also mentioned that where you live is a rainy environment, so I'd put a new set of Michelin Energy MXV4 tires on it. In my opinion, they're the best for tricky weather driving. At about $95/each, they can be expensive, but well worth it. If you want a bigger car, then a W126 chassis 300SD would be the next best bet ('81-'85). Same motor, bigger car. Hope this helps!

Aaron Greenberg
MB technician
Precision Motorcars, Cincinnati, Ohio
'67 250SE Cabriolet
'77 450SL
'80 300SD
'85 380SE
'89 420SEL
'93 300E 2.8
'72 Alfa Romeo 2000GTV
'74 Jensen Interceptor Mk.III
'81 DeLorean DMC12
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Old 03-05-2000, 06:56 PM
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I'm not to concerned about weather performance actually. The W126 is one nice looking car, how is the performance compared to the W123? Is the W124 a car to stay away from, I see alot around? There is a 84'W126 with 110K, but the engine is rebuilt, should I bother looking into this car?
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Old 03-05-2000, 08:25 PM
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Aaron is right on the money. Look for a good w123. The w124 are alot harder to find, and will cost more money. The w126 is a bigger car, but it all depends what you are looking for. Want a good, reliable commuting car? Mine money is on the 240D or 300DT.

1985 300D Turbo with 235,000 miles and uses next to no oil betweem changes. It gets 25 to 27 mpg on my 100 mile a day commute.

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Old 03-05-2000, 10:24 PM
Alex Kouliy
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I went through the same process not too long ago and decided on a W124. There is no doubt that the mid 80's W123 diesels are practically indestructible; however, I decided against a diesel due to the cold winters in Canada as well as the sluggish acceleration. IMHO, the W201 is too small, while the W126 is too big. Therefore the W124 was the obvious choice for me, as it is the right size and provides a decent compromise between acceleration and fuel economy. Inexpensive W124's are few and far between, so I settled for an 87 260E with approx. 135,000 miles. The price was $CDN12,000 ($8,000US). There are a few common problems with the early W124's. If the PO has addressed them and maintained the car properly, it should last forever. Those problems include:
-worn valve stem guides and seals (relatively big $$$, the cylinder head has to be taken off to replace those); if the PO has installed the newer type guides and seals you are laughing;
-automatic climate control system (expensive and difficult ot work on);
Those problems are discussed at great length on the Forum, just do a search for any of those topics.
And a little bit of trivia. Did you know that the W124 body has a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.30? Not bad for a fifteen year old design. Even today, very few cars can claim such a low drag.
Alex Kouliy
Calgary, Canada
87 260E
75 FIAT 124 Spider
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Old 03-06-2000, 01:10 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Santa Cruz, CA USA
Posts: 117
I came to the same conclusion that Alex did. I had $11,000 to spend on a good car for my wife to commute in. Her commute is over the most dangerous high speed freeway in the US, highway 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz, California. I wanted a safe car for that! I found a 1986 300e (W124) with 82k on! Can you believe it!!! It was near by, so I drove over, checked it out and bid on it. I got it for $8600.00 Unfortunately the valve stems seals were shot and I had to have the head rebuilt. ( could have avoided all that if I'd discovered this page earlier and knew to ask the group what was wrong with my car before I tried to figure it out myself) Now that's done, I'm smarter and the car runs like a champ!
Hope you find a good deal
Good Luck

Kyle De Priest
1986 300e
1972 BMW R75/5 (Best there is)
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Old 03-06-2000, 08:19 AM
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I have a 124 and a 123 car. I've had five 123 cars over the years, they're indestructible, reliable and parts are inexpensive. In the Dallas area there are jillions of them around, it doen't take much patience to find one with reasonably low mileage in great condition for $2,500 to $5,000 depending on whether you want a 4 or 5 cylinder.

But if you're budget is $10,000, I would chose a 124 car. They are faster, quieter, and better handling. You don't give up any reliability either. In the Dallas area you can get all the '90 and earlier, rust free, low mileage, well cared for examples you want for under $10,000.

Check out the Dallas Morning News. I don't know if they have classifieds on the web, but it would be a good source of a good rust free car.

Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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Old 03-06-2000, 07:03 PM
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Thank You all for your replies and advise, and Thank You MercedesShop for providing such an informative site! I was weighing on the W124 side for the styling and performance, and thought the choice would be easy, however, it looks like its hard to beat the W123 for longevity (wife has always loved the 300TD's style). The W126 does look like a rather large car (I will be mainly be using the car for commuting) but again, I should buy as much Benz as possible. Maybe I should look for a W116 450SEL 6.9 and..... Choices, choices.
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Old 03-06-2000, 07:19 PM
Registered User
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Berkeley, CA
Posts: 199
A word of advice. Forget the 6.9 if you intend the car as a daily driver and don't intend to spend wads of money keeping thing maintained. Don't get me wrong: they are fabulous cars. Its just that, if you are on a budget and this is your or your loved one's primary mode of transportation, this car will eat a hole in your pocket like battery acid in a hot room. An example: a new water pump? $1,200. A new steering gear? $1,200. A new front shock? $500...Each. Leaky leveling valve? $400. I think you get the picture.

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Old 03-06-2000, 07:27 PM
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What an informative thread. What if the price was a little higher? What would you say for the best benz under $20,000?


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Old 03-06-2000, 09:17 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 152
I agree with all who like the 124 300E. I found an execellent 1987 example with 49,000mi for $10,500. This is my second 300E. Foolishly I sold the first and regretted it foever. Previously I owned an '84 300SD. It was a great road car but rather on the large side. While the fuel economy was great, it was not as much fun to drive as the 124. I sold it to buy my first 124 chassis. IMHO the first generation 124 (86-89) design is a classic. I don't care for the lower plastic moldings of the later models but that is stricly a matter on personal taste. I think you will enjoy whatever BENZ you buy, but you should seriously look at the 124 chassis.

Hope this helps
87 300E
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Old 03-07-2000, 02:06 PM
Bill Wood's Avatar
Retired Webmaster
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Johns Creek, GA, USA
Posts: 5,013
For what it's worth...
My vote goes to the W124 300E family for best Benz for the buck.

Bill Wood - Webmaster, LLC
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Old 03-07-2000, 02:51 PM
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BOUGHT A 83 500 SE HERE IN UK FOR 1400 OR ABOUT $2000.



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Old 03-07-2000, 05:26 PM
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what, no one likes a 107 for the money? best resale, not bad on reliablility or performance. I love mine and stole it for $8500, nearly perfect condition.
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Old 03-07-2000, 05:47 PM
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W124 is the choice. Much more advanced than W123 or W126 in every way. In addition, if you are going to be driving in the rain often, W124 has much better rust protection than W123s or W126s which seem to always rust from water leaking past the rear window seal and from dirt/leaves plugging the engine compartment side of the A-pillar drain hole.
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