Date registered: Oct 2012
Vehicle: 1972 220 D, 1974 450SL, 1995 E300D 2002 S430, 1976 300D
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Quoted: 228 Post(s)
My $0.02 is to look at diesel if you really want fuel savings. Gas powered mercedes are far from easy on the wallet, getting between 10-18mpg. Diesels, even in bigger cars will travel farther with better mileage per tank.
Look for the body style that really calls to you. If you want a 60's car, be very aware of the rust, as they were not well protected against it and rot away quickly if not well cared for. The design change in the /8 and W116 sedans is more modern, less swooping as the 50's cars. That same aesthetic flowed into the cars of the 1980's. Once you see the body style you desire, then worry about fuel.
Gas engine cars are littering the scrap yard. There is reduced reliability in the older cars, because they will not get the care they need to stay running. The diesels have a following and being a more robust engine, remain on the road longer. They are also VERY simple to maintain. No distributors, sparks, condensers, carbs, computers, electronics to go kaput. If you can push start the thing, it will keep going even after a massive EM burst. The car for post nuclear war.
I will assume you want a sedan and not a sports car. The SL is about the only option there anyway. Do not venture that path unless your pockets are very deep and you care not a whit for fuel prices.
I prefer diesels because they are robust, and if you care for it, even if the previous owner was an idiot, you can usually get them running properly again. The stink is from drivers who do not know how to properly drive a diesel. Unburnt fuel, carbon, crud and poor care all make a mess and stink. Drive it like you stole it. Blow the snot out of the engine, use good fuel and a very low percentage of BioD in the tank. Initially you might get lots of black smoke, back firing, and chunks of carbon being removed from the engine. Once that is over, you should have a clean engine that fully burns the fuel, leaving very little emissions. If you run B-5, you also change the smell to fries or chinese food/donut/mexican as you drive by.
For the earlier diesel, avoid automatic transmissions. They are worthless for forward motion and cost more than the value of the car to repair. A good stick shift will allow you to stay in the powerband at all times. A w115 220D with stick or 240D are very economical. Stay away from a 240D auto, as you will have more bug splatter on the rear windscreen than the front. That goes for the W123 as well.
The w116 300SD is a nice leisurely sedan with good luxe appointments. Built like a tank and solid. Do not expect to race that car, but drive it with style. Jump up to the W126 SD and you get a turbo. The model you really want is the 300SDL from 1986-7. Solid power, long wheel base, and luxe. You can expect between 20-30mpg.
Or, look at a W201. The 190D is a great smaller car with some spunk. You will not want the 2.2 liter, too slow and gutless. Look instead for the 2.5 liter with a stick. That will give you lots of pleasure zipping about and in a diesel gets around 40mpg.
A blessing of the diesels is that patient, thinking people purchased and owned them. Not the sort to mess about with their cars or thrash them. Petrol editions attracted the less loving sort who were prone to junking the interiors up and driving the cars into the ground. At least that is my experience with what I see at PnP.
In purchasing the petrol cars I own, I have looked for near perfection and paid top dollar to get it. On a diesel, you are likely to find the owner took the time to retain value, being conscientious.
74 450SL - Froggy
'02 s320 - Victor
'86 300SDL - Polei
'76 300D - Voldemort
'95 E300D - Cleo
'72 220D - Gump
'87 300SDL - POS SDL
92 300SE - #1 boys ride