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I am an old-fashioned mom with 3 sons- age 16,13 and 12, who is not about to buy an even remotely new car for my sons to drive. However, I adore them, and do want them happy. I am considering fronting them about $4000 for an older car that they can each "buy" opportunity to drive for $1000 (i.e. eventually I'll get paid back $3000). I want them to be able to tinker and fix it (i.e. I want available parts), I want it to be sturdy enough to be winner of a run-in with another car. I also am looking for a little cool factor (I am not cruel enough to get them a vw bug). So, it seems perhaps a Mercedes might fit the bill. Never having owned one (but seeing the error of my ways) , I need help.

They are tall boys- will be 6'2" plus drivers. Want decent size backseat so 4 can sit comfortably- probably 4 door. Driving will be mix of neighborhood run-arounds and 10-30 mile highway trips to school and sports, etc.

What years? What model? Diesel or no? What should I be wary of?
Any advice appreciated!!
 

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1998 S210 E320 black/mushroom, 1984 R107 500SL #3904 black/black
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The kind of mom we all wish we had . . . . .

is living in Texas.
The first thing that you need to do is go over to the Benzworld.org Classifieds and take a look at the "Sticky" titled Bruce's Guide To Buying A Used Mercedes

We have so many knowlegable and experienced members on the BenzWorld forum that I can't believe that at least a few of them haven't waded in to provide you with their reasoning of which MB would be best suited for your son's first car.

For what it's worth, here's mine:
The guys are going to be tall and you say 6'2" and taller. Any MB will have adequate seating room in the front to accomodate that height. Their car must have adequate seating space in the rear passenger area. Excluding the sports cars and specialty vehicles, there are basically three sizes of 4-door cars that Mercedes sells in the US: small/compact (C-Class), medium/executive (E-Class) and large/luxury (S-Class).

The guys are are not going to fit in the rear of the C/compact, and will be cramped in the back seat of the E-Class. So, my recommendation is the 1981 to 1991 W126 chassis S-Class. And yes, they were the most expensive MB (standard production) 4-door sedan when sold new.

Now, here's the good part . . . Mercedes targeted these S-Class vehicles to a very astute and affluent segment of the buying market offering high performance engines culminating with the large and powerful 5.6 litre V-8 engine offered from 1986 through 1991. But they also offered five and six cylinder turbo diesels and even a 3.0 litre inline gasoline engine which provided substantial fuel economy and performance. Oh yea . . . the good part: these very expensive W126 S-Classes can now be purchased at a fraction of what they sold for new and very close to the purchase price of a lesser model and very good examples are in your $4000 price range.

So, dfwmom, you have my thoughts and advice. If you would ask me to select a car for the boys, it would be a W126 300SEL. With the reliable M103 six cylinder gasoline engine and readily available parts. And room enough to take half the neighborhood to school.
 

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2001 Volvo V40
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I'm 6' 6" and if I adjust the front seat so that I have enough space, there is not enough space in the rear, so the extended S class is indeed the best choice for comfort, but for short trips a normal S class or an E class can work too.

An S class may be cheap to buy, but they are expensive to maintain, especially if you want all the options to work, but normal maintenance can be expensive too, certainly if you cannot do it yourself. Old cars usually have some neglected maintenance.

Rust can be an issue and it is expensive to repair.
 

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1973 Mercedes 220; 1995 Mercedes C280; 1990 Jaguar XJS
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Consider a used C-Class.

We purchased a 1995 C-280 as a daily driver to/from school/work for our son. It's been a great car. Relatively simple (not a ton of bells & whistles), well made, easy to maintain, readily available parts, strong drivetrain, decent mileage (about 21 MPG avg in town), sporty handling, safe. Backseat can comfortably handle 2-3 normal sized adults. Plenty of room for 6-footers up front.
 

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1975 450SL
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Get one of the old Diesels from the '60s or '70s. That way they won't be able to get it going fast enough to earn a ticket, and they'll be spending so much time working on it that they won't be able to get into trouble. :D;)

At least that's what a guy at a local dealership did for his son.

Plus the things are so solidly built that they would survive stuff that could kill a cockroach.
 
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