Advice on buying C class (around '96 model)

Hi, I am looking to buy a Merc C class and am planning to spend around 3500. I have seen a C230 Sport Komp (Nreg) with 121k miles on the clock. Have had a good look over it and seen a couple of things,
however is there anything I should look out for? Any common faults? (The car hasn't got a service history with it!) I'm slighlty reluncant to buy as I know little about this car and potential problems it may have but I liked the way it drove and its power. However when the bonnet was lifted there was a slight "grating" noise coming from the engine, is this likely to be a tension roller or something minor or could it be more serious and be a problem with the actual komp? (Has anyone had experience of similar noises on this kind of car)
Also I have seen a couple of C200 Esprit models advertised around the same year, does anyone know its specification compared to the one above? (I'm kean to have some power in the car I buy and for that reason am avoiding C180s.... should I only go for C220s and above or does the C200 have some bite!)
Thanks Colin PS any advice on what to look out for would be greatly appreciated.
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The "grating" noise may be normal sound for a C230. Mine does the same but I am not an expert and hope my engine is OK too..
larry
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