Car Suggestions for College Driver (In Depth Explaination)

I know this question has been asked hundreds of times and I've read a lot of the responses. Here's my situation, 2 years ago I totaled a rusting 87 toyota pickup my parents had given me when I turned 16 and
got $1500 because I had full coverage insurance. I looked around for a decent car and there aren't many cars that go for so little, having a part time job and expecting a huge increase in insurance I looked for something cheap and reliable. I ended up finding an 82 240D w/ 200,000mi in decent enough shape for $800 from a old farmer who got the car at an auction and had driven it for a few years. I used the rest of the money for insurance payments and having a complete service (filters, fluids, etc) by a local mbshop. I've worked on the 240D one piece at a time for the past 2 years repairing what I can afford to do myself or was forced to repair to keep it running or what my parents would give me as a gift (ac compressor, very expensive and large battery, glow plug relay, thermostat, door seals, other misc small things). I never have been able to get the car working completely right; the transmission won't shift right unless the ac switch is set to max. The body is beginning to degrade more and more, I was recently run off a small road by a large box truck and the fender under the front bumper was damaged quite badly. The floorboards have pretty much rusted out and need to be replaced as well. I enjoy the lost cost of diesel, as well as a fuel mileage in the upper 20s / lower 30s. However I don't see a wise investment in having the body repaired and painted, cutting out the floor boards and replacing them as well as having other problems solved by a mechanic. I estimate the car will be drivable until next spring by that point the floorboard rust will probably progress to a state that makes the vehicle unsafe to drive. I have the MB123 cds and a Hayne's manual on the car and I feel that I have done all that is within my skill of fixing the car. I can honestly contest to the reliability of the MB123 chassis, this car has never broken down on me, never refused to start and always gotten me where I needed to go.
THE QUESTION
What should I do? I have $1000 set aside, im working full time as a graphic artist at a print shop for the summer, my parents are paying my college expenses and I don't have any insurance payments due until November. I'm open to any / all suggestions. I'm looking for a car of ANY brand that gets excellent fuel mileage diesel or gasoline, preferably diesel w/ automatic transmission that has the reliability much like that of my 240D, that will not be 20 years old and need every part replaced and constantly serviced. A friend's dad used to have a late 90's Jetta Diesel that was rather nice but from what ive seen they only come w/ manual transmission (I hate manuals, maybe it's because the only manual ive driven was an 87 volkswagen cabriolet). Another friend of mine just bought a 93 BMW 5.25i which gets considerably good mileage and is in good shape but I've heard that they run terribly on low octane gasoline.
My apologies for writing a car autobiography, just looking for some insight and suggestions.
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With only a $1000 to spend.... and the old 240D is going bad... Wise investment is definitely not another car of different model or make... because the expenses is going to add up to fix it.
How about another 240D with a good body...and hopefully a good tranny. Then you can use your current 240D as your part car... you see... you got alot of new parts on the 240D... and other parts that are available if the "newer" 240D needs it... you got free part.
Park that junker 240D at your parent's house... and put a cheap car cover on it so it doesn't bother your neighbor...
You have to understand... your current 240D may be a junker... but all the good parts on it are worth a couple of thousands of dollars... just the engine alone is worth it... All the working parts are worth alot of money. If you are short on money and don't need this particular parts... then sell it on ebay...Otherwise, this is what I would do if I am in your situation.
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Very good suggestion!
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I figure i can hold out untill January / Febuary 2005 if i have to, by that time i should have 6k - 7k + tax returns. I have openly looked into this as well, and it reminded me up how noisy the 240D is at highway speeds. I'm looking to hopefully upgrade a little if not much.

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With $6000, you can get a nice car... including a MB. I suggest you not spend it all on just the car... you must set aside some spare cash for parts & repairs... plus some spare for your otherwise rainy days that might occurs. This way, you don't have financial crisis.
Once you bought your car, you can part out that 240D for more extra cash. People are willing to buy if you sell at a very reasonable price.
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With that kind of cash, I would go with a early 80's 300 turbo diesel. That is of course since you said you prefer diesel. If your ok with gas, go for a 380SE or 500SEL. Heck, with 6-7 grand, you could probably get a new hyundai or mitsubishe lancer es (yes, I know, they aren;t the same thing, that's why I can't even spell them, but were talking cheap to keep, and a warranty never hurt). Richard

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I would get another similar car, maybe a 300D (for some reason, in my area - Bethesda, MD - old Benz's that aren't coupes sell for very little). However, to be honest, I would probably go with somethign stick shift. You seem like your fairly handy, so you should be able to change a clutch, and with a stick shift there isn't much else to go wrong. Old BMW's also tend to be less expensive than one may thing. Look for an early 1980's 3-series BMW. Richard

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