SOTW: Mercedes E300 Turbodiesel


Pride, so they say, comes before a fall. That motto pretty much sums up Mercedes' fall from grace at the turn of the millennium.

We'll leave the fine detail to the automotive historians, but nobody - not even Mercedes - disputes the Chrysler alliance went badly wrong. Coincidentally or otherwise, a nosedive in Mercedes quality kicked in shortly after the 1998 merger/takeover, blighting Benzes for years after. Indeed, many Merc diehards have foresworn the brand for ever as a result of their experiences in the early 2000s.

Not exactly racy but frees funds for a toy too
Not exactly racy but frees funds for a toy too
This week's Shed, a W210 E300 Turbodiesel, was born in that troubled year of 1998. Fear not, though. By the looks of it, this one came off the line before the accountants replaced 'only the best' on the material procurement sheets with 'Borat grade'.

Superseding the oblong-headlamped W124, the four-light W210 was launched in 1996, facelifted in 1999, and succeeded by the more slope-fronted W211 in 2002. This classic three-boxer reeks of respectability and solidity. It is a saloon, full stop. The only hatch you'll find here is a square hole grudgingly cut into the middle of the back seat for ski toting.

Even before the Chrysler debacle, Mercedes electrics were showing signs of weakness, so the best W210 Sheds are the ones with the lowest toy count. Being an Avantgarde, which (outside of AMG models) was top spec if you ranked its sportiness above the Elegance's comfort, this one does have a few features, but none of them are mission-critical. The absence of the potentially troublesome sunroof is a particular relief.

It's all very sober ... apart from the upholstery!
It's all very sober ... apart from the upholstery!
Two more plus points about the Avantgarde are its firmer suspension and slightly less urgent cabin wood. The original buyer didn't specify moo for the seats, which means it is blessed with a fabric design so abstract a painter and decorator could do a rolling programme of improvements on it just by throwing his cans and brushes straight in there at the end of a day's hard graft.

As you'd expect, it does have automatic climate control, which can fail, as can diesel injectors and glowplugs. A weird one to look out for is the transmission cooler housed inside the radiator, perhaps not the smartest piece of engineering design in M-B's history.

But can't you just taste the potential smugness of being behind the wheel of such a beast for under a grand? For a feel of what you'd be in for, here's a video walkround and 0-60 run up the road in an American one of the same vintage.

Shed does 'sensible transport' shocker
Shed does 'sensible transport' shocker
As you can see, hear, and possibly even feel depending on the quality of your speakers, that 3.0-litre TD lump isn't the last word in refinement, but you can expect 30mpg-plus, 135mph and 0-60 in under nine seconds - all very decent numbers.

Digital images can flatter to deceive, but those shutlines look bankvault-tight and there's no sign of wheelarch or wing rust. OK, so it's not an estate, and the wheels will need a refurb, but once that's done you're all set with a one-owner, low mileage, Mercedes exec from the good old days (just), with FSH, a semi-desirable reg number, £220 road tax, and a Shed price. Surely worth a gamble as a relaxed daily smoker.

Advert is reproduced below.

300E Avantgarde Turbodiesel Salon (£995)
Parktronic, Rain Sensor, Electric Folding Mirrors, Headlight Washers, Automatic Climate Control, Memory Power Driver Seat and Steering Wheel, Blaupunkt radio/CD player, Ski Hatch to Boot, Avon tyres, Serviced May 2012, MOT to April 2013, FSH, Two keys, One driver from new

 

 

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Comments (170) Join the discussion on the forum

  • big_boz 10 Oct 2012

    Also,

    That will run on Bio Diesel for definite so about a £1 a liter to buy, or sub 50p if you can be bothered to make it yourself, or i think it will run on straight veg oil from the shop.

    In any case fueling it will be cheaper than running on £1.40ish a liter pump diesel......

    But....its a load of rubbish i had a '98 230 avantgarde as a company car when i was 19....when i got told about it i was over the moon, then it arrived...in purple with the fake MB leather which was like sitting on plastic and made you sweat like a pig, then it started going rusty after about 3 months, the gearbox was super dim witted and my god was it slow. I wouldnt touch this shape of E under any circumstances.

    The '88 190E 2.0 Auto in gold that i had before was a much better car, even with the windy down windows

  • fluffnik 08 Oct 2012

    court said:
    Weren't late 90's seat fabrics awful? They're almost as bad as the ones on sporting Peugeots of the same era.
    Nope, grey leather is far, far worse.

  • pSyCoSiS 08 Oct 2012

    confused_buyer said:
    There is something wrong with that mpg. An auto E320 CDI should be about 10% better than an auto 530d in like for like driving.
    My 530d was a manual, which is why the mpg was better. The W210 just seems like a bigger, heavier car to drive.

    Having said that, it's pretty good for what it is, just these annoying faultsd have put me off them!

  • pSyCoSiS 08 Oct 2012

    Hellbound said:
    And now for something a little different...

    Forget about that diesel crapper, you can't beat one of these at this price;

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C306715

    It's the wrong fuel and wrong colour, but you get the feeling it's worth more in parts alone.

    And then there's this little beauty, at just over twice the shed budget it's about ten times the quality of any SOTW I've ever seen. I can't remember the last time I saw a 190E this clean and sensibly priced. No battered and abused Cosworth rubbish here.

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C336606
    That W126 is quite nice actually. Not the best colour for it, but still looks good with the cream leather.

    As for the 190E - I have seen better examples. And would look nice with the OEM indicators, not the clear ones.

  • philkermeen 08 Oct 2012

    Hellbound said:
    And now for something a little different...

    Forget about that diesel crapper, you can't beat one of these at this price;

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C306715

    It's the wrong fuel and wrong colour, but you get the feeling it's worth more in parts alone.

    And then there's this little beauty, at just over twice the shed budget it's about ten times the quality of any SOTW I've ever seen. I can't remember the last time I saw a 190E this clean and sensibly priced. No battered and abused Cosworth rubbish here.

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C336606
    Nice choices!!! Such solid motors!!

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