Must Be Coupe Week – 1988 Mercedes 300CE

If you like the style of Mercedes’ sedan-derived coupes, but don’t want to put up with some of the downsides of the earlier W123 diesels, or the higher price for those in good condition, you can try searching for a European market W123 280CE or 230CE. But if you’d like to own a Mercedes coupe in your lifetime, perhaps it’s worth another look at the W124 300CE. Equipped with Mercedes’ 177hp inline six, throttle response should be significantly better than its predecessors, though you’ll pay for it in fuel costs (especially now diesel is actually cheaper than gasoline). Moreover, while the W123 coupes are certainly attractive, the shape of the W124 seems to have had a more successful coupe conversion. Check out this 1988 Mercedes 300CE for sale for $3650 in Chehalis, WA.

1988 Mercedes 300CE right front

Chrome wheels aren’t everyone’s taste, but they’re certainly correct in a 1980s way. Paint looks glossy, though the roof, which is not shown, is mostly the first place to suffer peeling clear coat. Together with the newer wheels, clear corner indicators help update the look, and they don’t look silly like they do on earlier cars. Bonus points for the seller for photographing his pillarless coupe with all the windows down.

1988 Mercedes 300CE left rear

Lighting conditions make for less than ideal photography, but it’s not like this is an $80,000 Mercedes anymore. Everything looks straight and complete, and hopefully the antenna is up because the radio is on, and not because the motor is broken. This earlier car shouldn’t suffer from the “biodegradable” wiring harness in the later version of the W124, but at the expense of a less powerful earlier engine.

1988 Mercedes 300CE engine

Speaking of the engine, things look clean underhood – an easy way to boost the resale potential would be to clean up the valve cover, and it’s not clear why this wasn’t done when the engine was serviced. That service included a rebuilt cylinder head, alternator, and more. The seller provides on detail on whether luxury amenities like the air conditioning are functional, but everything looks present. That upper radiator hose looks awfully shiny – don’t sellers know shiny does more to suggest “I’m distracting you from the problems with look, shiny stuff!” rather than “it’s been serviced thoroughly”?

1988 Mercedes 300CE interior

Interior shots leave something to be desired, but from this angle it looks like the grey driver’s seat will need a thorough cleaning. The car is said to have an upgraded audio system, including the head unit, but it’s not clear whether this extends to the speakers and more. Wood trim looks decent, though showing some of the expected cracking in the varnish, and all the interior parts you’d expect in the provided photos seem to be present and intact. At this age, with some extra considerations for maintenance it looks like you could even use this as a daily driver. Would you try it?


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