There’s a lot of moaning, and probably has been since the curved dash Olds was phased out, that the real insert-marque-here no longer exists. And so it is with Mercedes – since about the W211 E-class Mercedes, where the company made a distinct shift in thinking, adding more style to their cars and adjusting the quality to the expectation of their clients, not engineers and automotive journalists. They don’t make insert-thing-here like they used to, and while the things they used to make are great in their own way, we probably have fewer people losing control of their cars, getting electrocuted by home appliances, or hurting their kid with a poorly designed toy. For a car that won’t electrocute you even though it is made like it used to be, check out this 1992 Mercedes 300SE for sale for $3500 in Fremont, CA.
Looks in beautiful condition, doesn’t it? You can see a minor abrasion on the bumper corner (or is it a reflection?), but the paint is glossy, and the original wheels and condition support the story that this car was owned by an older gentleman who took good care of the car. Speaking of original wheels, there’s another reason to buy it – save it from a horrible fate involving 26-inch chrome wheels and tinted windows! The car is said to only have 82,000 miles, which represents around 7 years’ normal driving on this 23-year-old car – let’s just hope there were no protracted periods of storage in there. Incidentally, the car is correctly a 300SE, not an S320 as listed, since it was made before Mercedes changed their model-naming system in 1993.
Everything seems to be original on the inside, but for the radio, which is an aftermarket unit. Probably good for sound, but you might want to grab an original one from the local junkyard the next time you’re there, just to be able to claim “all-original”. Blue on tan is a classic color combination (in fact, it’s the color combination on the RustyButTrusty VW Golf fleet support vehicle – okay, daily driver), and is more interesting than the usual shades of silver, grey, beige, and black. Minor interior details – there’s some light staining on the carpets which will need cleaning, while the seats appear in good shape, with even the seat-back pockets tight and sag-free. Isn’t it amazing that this car, which was considered rather ostentatious and over-the-top when it came out, now looks rather austere?
The rear looks just as good as the rest of the car – if it weren’t for that darn sticker, the bumper would be perfect. There are two things that might make you want to run a VIN check on your favorite site – the plates are relatively new, and the smog check history only goes back to 2012, so it’s possible the car came from out of state, or the plates were transferred. Also, the car is either missing its model designation or has been debadged, which might indicate a crash repair. So assuming that all checks out, what’s the catch? Well, can you accept that minivans and compacts will beat you at stop lights? This is the base-level S-class, with the 3.2-liter 24-valve M104 I6, generating 228hp and 229 lb.-ft. of torque to push its porky 4200-lb. body to 60 in 9.5 seconds. But once you get there, your experience will be little different from the guy with the V8, only he’ll be consuming more fuel. And you’ll have more space to work underhood. So what’s keeping you from enjoying one of the most innovative luxury sedans of the nineties?