Does it seem that new cars need to be everything to everyone? BMWs are now luxurious, Mercedes are now fast, and Lexus and Infiniti were eating everyone’s lunch for a while until the European makers diluted their brands enough to please someone who can’t make up their mind. But if you want modern things like good fuel mileage, decent reliability and most modern power conveniences (wait, what site are we on here??), together with at least 100,000 miles of life still remaining, the W124 Mercedes sedans with a diesel engine are worth a closer look. Of course, there’s no point in subjecting you, the reader, to boring domestic versions you can find in the classifieds on either coast, so instead, check out this 1986 Mercedes 300D for sale for $2900 in Carmel, CA.
You’ll maybe have noticed this car wears hubcaps, a cue this is not your average Mercedes since they were never sold that way in North America. Unfortunately, it did get the federal headlights, an indication that this car was “legitimately” imported. Fortunately, you won’t be subject to emissions inspections – at least in California – for this pre-1997 car, so if it’s already plated, you shouldn’t have to worry about any regulatory issues. While the owner did not see fit to pull the car outside or get some full-car shots, the paint looks in good shape – perhaps a repaint – though it has fading on the roof and shows a minor scuff on the bumper face.
The car is said to have about 225,000 miles, though the broken odometer shows 188,000. Somehow the seller claims oil changes every 3,000 miles, and is said to be a 1984, though according to a quick online search, these were not built with the OM603 diesel until 1986. But here comes the fun part of picking up a German market Mercedes – super-tough cloth seats and a manual transmission. The car is said to be in great mechanical shape, starting well and running reliably.
With most functions being manual instead of electric, and a manual transmission, this car should be ready to go for several more miles. You might ask for evidence of work on the head or head gasket, as these were prone to fail on this engine, though if it’s made it this far it’s either been done or never was needed. While this 300D truly delivers on the slow-but-solid Mercedes experience, it’s also the quickest version of the W124 300D, getting to sixty in a hair over ten seconds. The seller makes much of the greater value of European-market cars, but if you can sacrifice the European features and about $600 for the updated look of second series cars, together with a more comprehensive set of luxury features, you might want to look at this 1995 Mercedes E300 Diesel for sale for $3500 in Orangevale, CA.
Pictures show a truly immaculate car, and while there’s no description of the car’s strengths, it’s got a mere 167,000 miles on its OM606 diesel. This engine is said to be one of the most long-lived of any Mercedes diesel, and some folks will say the automatic transmission is better suited to this car’s slow-but-solid luxury character. Which version would you choose?