Bank Vault Wagon: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300TE

Among the short list of vintage cars I’ve considered for daily use is the classic Mercedes-Benz 300TE, like this example shown here. The W124 chassis is already near and dear to my heart, and they’ve aged incredibly well. Because of this, many owners have continued maintaining these now-well used cars at a surprisingly high level, and few automobiles that are now decades old still look as good idling in traffic as a W124 Mercedes. This wagon model is listed here on eBay with just under 117,000 original miles and is a life-long California car with not even a spec of rust, according to the seller, and bidding is at $6,300 with the reserve unmet.

The TE looks laser straight up and down the sides, and the heavy window tint may seem slightly cheap but has also helped keep the Mercedes looking quite fresh inside (it’s a necessity in sun-intense climates like Los Angeles.) The seller notes it’s had just two owners, one of them the overseer of a local Mercedes dealership and the other a 96-year-old man – so it seems likely the Mercedes has been well-loved and gently used. The W124s are conservative in appearance, but that’s also why they still look surprisingly modern despite its design being originally hatched in the middle 80s. The seller notes the self-leveling suspension and power antenna both work.

The engine bay is super clean and this is the where the magic happens in W124 land: non-interference engine with the non-biodegradable engine harness. The M103 inline-six will likely outlive you with annual maintenance, and it avoids the pitfalls of the later models with the infamous engine harness that needs complete replacement. The seller notes a sizable amount of recent maintenance that’s been performed, including new radiator, motor mounts, valve cover gasket, hatch struts, tires, and more. The Mercedes shouldn’t ask too much of the next owner, other than keeping up with its most basis of needs. My father’s 1990 300E ate through engine mounts, so it’s good to see that job has been done here.

The blue MB Tex interior is in mint condition, and it’d likely look this nice even if the car had been completely neglected. The only thing that’s missing here is a period car phone, but you can always retrofit one of those purely for effect later. The listing lists numerous desirable spares and extras that will come with the car, including OEM roof racks, thick pile floor mats, full-size trailer hitch with wiring, custom car cover, and more. The W124 may seem like a eminently attainable car given the scale of production they reached at their peaks, but finding a well-loved wagon like this isn’t nearly as easy as you might expect. The seller is right to have a reserve on a car like this, and I think $10K and above is a fair price if it’s as nice as presented.

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Comments

  1. art

    I don’t think I have ever seen a Class III trailer hitch on a Mercedes Benz E Class. I wonder what trailer one of the two owners was dragging around? An important question without an answer.

    Like 4
  2. Roy

    Other than the rear badge is in the wrong location, very nice car.

    Like 1
    • matthew grant

      most likely the rear was hit. that was the first flaw I noticed.

  3. OlyOop

    I’ve had four w124s–two 300TEs, one E320 wagon, and an E400 sedan–and think they’re brilliant. The performance isn’t sparkling, but they handle, are incredibly practical, supremely comfortable and beautifully built. Two of mine were rear-ended at speed (one while parked) and both times the other car was destroyed while mine barely seemed damaged–and one of the offending cars was a modern Mercedes! Everyone cites the wiring harness as a weak spot, and indeed, they all failed, but every car I’ve seen has long since had this renewed with a solid replacement. The failure points at this stage in their lives are the A/C system (never particularly strong) and the automatic transmission.

    Like 1
  4. redwagon

    If the AC is somewhat weak it probably explains the dark tint all around. I’d love to drive one for a week or two just to see what all the commotion is about. Then decide yea or nea. I do like the fact that this one appears white with a blue interior, much better than beige.

  5. Oldog4tz Member

    rnm – $9000

  6. Robt

    I’m on my second w124 wagon and I can’t say enough good things about them. You need to look to find a good one, and they need their maintenance. But well worth it.
    The first was an 89 found for $2,500. I lasted for 10 years of me, family, work etc. And was still a contender when sold, I was ready to move on.
    Current wagon is a 95 E320. It’s beauty is that the previous owner knew a serious M-B mechanic. A C-36 merc motor was located and installed as well as countless other E500 upgrades before he realized he didn’t need a wagon after all. Google ‘Mercedes C-36’ if you are curious. Awesome motor, awesome car. I’m heading into 5 years with this one thinking at minimum 15 more years will be with in easy reach with basic maintenance.
    Your grandma would be happy driving this one but when asked it can and will surprise quite a few machines out there. I’ve been having my fun.

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