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Rare 5-Speed: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300E

This 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300E will catch your eye first for its impressive condition, but the next thing that will grab you is the rare manual transmission. Not many W124s came to the USA with the row-it-yourself option, but they do pop up for sale every now and again – but rarely in this sort of condition. The 300E has 150,000 miles (which is nothing on one of these) and is listed for sale here on craigslist in Pennsylvania with an asking price of $9,500. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. 

Curiously, this 300E appeared on the website Cars & Bids a few weeks back as a registered sale at $8,700. Given it’s still located in Pennsylvania, I have to believe the transaction didn’t go through, especially since the reported buyer even indicated he was expecting some flack from his wife about the purchase. Who knows what happened – it’s possible the seller was hoping for more, and worked out an agreement with the buyer to not move forward if they sensed some hesitation – but it still seems like a decent buy at the current asking price given the condition on display in the photos.

Cars from the northeast rarely look this good after this many years on the road and 150,000 miles on the clock. It was sold new on Long Island and hasn’t gone very far, so it’s likely to have been a northern car all of its life. Fortunately, rust doesn’t appear to be a factor at all, and the interior looks far better than its mileage would suggest. W124s historically have aged quite gracefully with interiors that are extremely resistant to weathering and showing the typical signs of wear and tear that show up by now. The woodgrain trim has lost some of its luster, but the next owner will likely be too distracted by the stick shift to care much about it.

The description notes that fewer than 300 examples were brought over with the manual gearbox, so it’s certainly rare. But in this case, rare doesn’t mean difficult to live with, as parts supply is still quite robust and there’s lots of support for these W124s given how many Benz enthusiasts are keeping them on the road. In many ways, this was Mercedes’ Buick, selling them by the truckload to everyone who needed a reliable daily driver, so they still turn up in you-pick junkyards today – even in the snow belt states. Whether this one was a no-sale or a quick-flip, it still seems like a good buy at the current asking price.


  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Seems like a fair deal Jeff. I have 2 Bimmers with manual trannys. Both a riot to hammer on. I do not know much about MB’s, but I bet it would be fun. Now that I think about it, I don’t know much about Bimmers either!

    Like 10
  2. On and On On and On Member

    I knew a Benz mechanic in Chicago a few years back. He said this series was the best Mercedes of all to own. He had one himself. They were developed as the 100th anniversary model and he said the company put a lot into their development and engineering. Awesome cars that can last a lifetime.

    Like 6
  3. Keven

    I bought a 300CE with a manual shift in Spain and used it there for a couple of years. On frequent highway trips were the speed limit was not much of an issue, that car was an awesome ride! I would totally recommend it.

    Like 3
  4. Bobby Davenport

    If I had the money and the room I would buy it I’m a heart beat Mercedes is my number 1 favorite manufacturer could be the German blood in me 😁

    Like 1
  5. William R McDonald

    If I had the money I’d snap this up in a heartbeat!!!!!!! This car will easily do 300k with regular maintenance!!!!!! I’ve not seen one this clean in a long while!!!!!!

    Like 3
  6. JoeMac JoeMac

    This car really presents well. Kudo’s to the owner for the great pics…undercarriage too. Very nice! 150K is just broken in. Great buy here.

    Like 1

    I am gonna try and buy this Car, I presently have an 88 420 sel.

    Like 1

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