Date registered: Sep 2011
Vehicle: 1985 300D
Location: Washington, DC
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Other than the obvious diesel v. gasoline aspect you have to remember that at the time the 430 SEL was considered by many to be one of the best cars in the word. In today's market the price difference between the equivalent cars is massive (E350 BlueTEC diesel v. S550/S600 is ~$50,000-100,000). Of course back in the 1980's it was a bit different but this should give you a good idea of the range of cars Mercedes makes.
Honestly the 300D is much simpler with regards to maintenance. It sounds like your husband hauls a lot so I assume he drives a 1 or 1.5 ton diesel pickup; a diesel for yourself may be better just because the two of you (plus any heavy duty farm equipment) would share the same fuel type.
If you want the 430 SEL you're going to need a reliable MB mechanic. They're extremely complicated cars and the parts & labor bills can add up quickly. As the saying goes: "nothing is more expensive than a cheap Mercedes". The 300D on the other hand wasn't as expensive when it first rolled off the line and therefore are cheaper used. They're also much easier to fix by yourself if you have an intermediate knowledge of diesels (and it sounds like your husband fits that bill).
Bottom line- you need to figure out what type of MB you want. I used to drive an '86 560 SEL and it was a phenomenal car, but by the late 90's it was spending quite some time in the shop. On the other hand, W123's are extremely popular in the developing world because they're much simpler and easier to fix.
And not to complicate things, MB also sold diesel versions of the 126 chassis (300 & 350 SD/SDL's).
I wouldn't mind chucking my 300D down a dirty gravel road but if I was driving a 430 SEL I would drive quite a bit more carefully.
Hope that helps.
WTB: W123 radiator skid plate
'85 Mercedes 300D Silver Blue Metallic 197,000 miles - my DD
'86 Mercedes 560SEL Iridium Silver Metallic 130,000 miles - SOLD
'87 BMW 635 CSi 120,000 miles - SOLD