recommendations please

I'm interested in buying a used MB. I've driven a few models, I'd be interested in your thoughts on what would be the best choice. Here are my impressions of what I've driven.
'93 190E 2.6 ~90K ~$10K Solid, nimble little car. Reasonable level of creature comfort for an entry-level MB. Smallish cabin. Good value.
'95 C280 ~70K ~$14K Sporty, responsive. Less "solid" in terms of ride and road feel, but still a pretty substantial car. Nicely appointed.
'95 E320 ~60K ~$16K Solid full-size sedan. Less responsive from a standing start than the 190E or the C280. Excellent ride, slightly soft road feel. Substantial, seems like a very good long-term value.
'94 400E ~70K ~$16K As solid as the E320, but much tighter. Much power, both from a standing start and at highway speed. A superb automobile.
80% of my driving is commuting on congested local roads (!#$!). I'm looking for a good balance of value for dollar and fun driving. I am a slightly aggressive driver, but not a maniac.
Any thoughts you have will be welcome. Many thanks!
R
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Give these guy a call.
Automotive Technical Services (ATS) - MB electronic units remanufacturer
4520 S. Navajo Street, Unit D
Englewood, Colorado 8010
(800) 865-6211
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Oops... wrong topic... sorry
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Good objective assessment of the cars and your situation.
For the reason that you're tempted by speed yet thwarted by your heavy traffic commute I'd suggest you not buy the E400 - nice as it is. I once owned a '91 Porsche 928S4 and eventually saw how stupid it was to own a 155 mph car when most of my driving was in local, suburban 35 mph traffic. The 928 was ready to go but there were always too many cars, stop signs and red lights for 928 driving to be fun.
Gas prices will stay relatively high so a six will be preferable to a V-8.
The '96 and later E320 may be a bit firmer than the '95 that you drove; suggest you also try one before committing, their prices aren't much different - same drive train in '96 as '95, '97 has 5 speed electronic transmission. I've owned a'97 E320 since new - nice car but rides a bit firmly for my taste.
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Edmunds put the price of the car at $5200 average private party price... Dealers-only auction put the price ov average at $3000 with range of (3725 to 1525)

Edmunds said $8113 average... Auction at $7800.

Edmunds said $11250 and auction at $8401 for that mileage

Edmunds at $9317 and Auction at $7500
So let me ask you... if you saw all these cars at one dealer... then I definitely do not trust that dealer. These cars are too low of a mileage for that year. I suspect mileage rollback. I would definitely use Carfax to verify this.
Beside the point of mileage, car performance, and ride, why are you considering paying a premium of up to 200% of what the car is worth?
Even if the car checked out... Are you willing to give your money away to these people and still have a good probability you still have to spend money to repair these cars right after you buy it? I always assume $2000 extra in repair bill on top of the car cost to fix up anything that is wrong with it.
Lastly, if you buy any of these cars, you will never get you money back... even if you try selling 3 years later. The depreciation is as bad as new car... you instantly lose $8000 the moment you take the key.
Okay, now back to the car of your choice. Personally I feel the 95 E320 is a perfect car for almost anyone. It is not too big and not too small... perfect for young family or singles who wants to haul friends.
My mechanic swears by the Inline 6 engine... he sees cars with 200,000 to 300,000 miles and some over that on original engine in his shops.
The 1996 E class is bigger in size... ride is perfect in my opinion... seats are stiff... just not enough cushion. Price is not far off from 95... but are in the price range you are considering. It has been reliable enough... very minor issue with A/C electronic sensors going bad. The 5 speed tranny are awesome... must have for fuel economy.
Both cars requires premium fuels for E class you are considering... but the 5 speed will boost city driving from 18 to 20... and highway from 23 to 27 MPG. Well worth it.
V8 are awesome.... no doubt. But the 6 cylinders are great... especially with 5 speed tranny... very awesome and perfectly balanced.
Now, you are probably wondering why I quoted auction price... because I do have access to them.
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Yes, I would agree that the prices look too high.
For what it's worth, I have a 1993 190 E, albeit with 2-litre engine. Fine car and, being at the end of the line, has few mechanical problems.
My car would be worth no more than GBP 2000 I would guess, which puts it in line with Tiger's figure. I doubt the larger engine adds that much to the price.
However, given your choices, I would choose an E-Class for the extra room. I used to have a W124. Engine size is a matter of taste, money and fuel usage.
DAS
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Hey Tiger -
Many thanks for your reply!
I saw these cars at three different dealers, all of whom specialize in selling very well maintained, low mileage, high end cars. All three deal mostly in European cars, one deals exclusively in MB. Most of these cars are one-owner with full maintenance records back to new, and for most of them the dealer has pre-emptively addressed the most common problems that show up on these cars (head gasket, wiring harness, etc.). All are cosmetically perfect. All come with a modest warranty on the drive train -- 30 to 90 days, depending on the car. I definitely will double-check the dealer claims via Carfax, however, that is an excellent suggestion.
My personal feeling is that I'm willing to pay a premium (although not 200%!) above a private sale price in order to have a higher likelihood of getting a good car. I don't have access to the auction market.
I agree that the E320 is probably the best all-around car, and probably the best long-term value. However, in my driving test I found the E320 to be sluggish from a standing start. Since so much of my driving is in local traffic, I think that will drive me nuts. For that reason, I'm leaning toward the 400E or the 190E at the moment, with the 190E the most likely due to much better fuel consumption and lower cost. I need to drive the C280 again, but I think I liked the more substantial feel of the E's (even the 190) better than the C.
The lack of rear seat room in the 190E is pretty much a non-issue. I'd say about 5% of my driving (maybe less) involves back seat passengers. About 80% of my driving is commuting to and from work, with just me in the car.
Any thoughts given the above?
Thanks again to everyone for your replies, they've been very helpful.
R

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If you drive with a lead foot to win in the Traffi Lights Grand Prix the 190 2.6 won't be very economic either.
DAS
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If the E320 feels sluggish, then there is something wrong with the tranny or need adjustment. I driven one myself...W124 is very nice.
Today, I drove the 1995 E300D and I can live with it too. Though you probably hate it.
I still think there is too much premium on these cars. You have to talk them down to at least Edmund's dealer's price... just print it out and take it to them. If you get anything between private and dealer's price, then you got a bargain. Dealer's price is about $1000 more than the private figure I gave you.
If you are in NY/NJ area I can hook you up with my buddy for auction. A nominal fee above the cost of the car won is all you need in cashier check before auction which you hold until you buy a car.
Back to the list... I'd find it too hard to recommend those car you found... it is just too hard for me to give money away like that. Unless, they actually give you one year bumper to bumper warranty with your choice of repair shop... even MB dealer... then I'd consider. Although, they are definitely not likely to give you that kind of warranty.
We used to own 190E. It is very fun car to drive... lots of pep with the 2.3 and decent fuel mileage. Interior is basic and simple.
If you really want to spend $15K, I'd go for 1997 E320 that has 5 speed auto tranny with a 20/27 fuel mileage. Bigger than the 1995 E320... but the tranny makes it well worth it.
V8 is very powerful, but fuel mileage isn't as good and maintenance may kill you when something do go wrong.
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Hey, Tiger can I get an opinion and a price, on the 1995 to '97 S500 coupe, black, with grey leather interior......... auto-erotic- dreaming!
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June 3, 2004 auction result...
1994 S500C White 122K miles $10,700 1996 S500C White 115K miles $13,500 1997 S500C Black 92K miles $17,100
Is it cheap enough for you? ;o)
Wipe your mouth clean and stop drooling...

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