At $19,995, Is This 1992 Mercedes 300TE A Gray-Market Gift From The Gods?

Illustration for article titled At $19,995, Is This 1992 Mercedes 300TE A Gray-Market Gift From The Gods?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Look at the specs of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Benz. It’s a six-cylinder, manual-shift Euro-spec wagon with the rear-facing third row seating. All that kit might just make some of you swoon. Let’s see if its price makes you flat-out faint dead away.

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When it comes to Mopar products, the mantra of many is “give me a Hemi or give me death!” Unfortunately, yesterday’s 2007 Dodge Magnum didn’t have a Hemi under its hood. Instead, there was the 3.5-liter V6 which, to its credit, had been imbued with police-grade hardware. That was due to the car rocking the Police Package and having recently been retired from actual cop-car duty. That, however, didn’t sway the majority of you into appreciating the overall car at its $3,500 asking. The result was a 55 percent No Dice loss.

Yesterday’s Magnum was built on Chrysler’s LX platform which itself was a rudimentary riff on hardware from, among other Mercedes cars, the W211 E-Class. That makes the Magnum almost an E-Class wagon. You know what? Instead of jumping through all those hoops, let’s just take a look at a real E-Class wagon. While we’re at it, let’s check out one that itself checks a lot of the right boxes.

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Photo: Craigslist

This 1992 Mercedes Benz 300TE is, like Monday’s VW T3 pickup, a gray-market car. That means it’s equipped more for European tastes than that of Americans. That’s evident in both the handsome cloth seating surfaces — the U.S. got MB Tex or leather almost exclusively — and the three pedals resident in the driver’s footwell. Yep, this wagon has a stick.

That shifter is connected to a Mercedes 717 five-speed gearbox which, in turn, is bolted to a 2962cc M103 inline-six. That single overhead cam six was factory spec’d for 177 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. The manual should make putting those somewhat modest numbers to use a lot more fun than would an automatic.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Uncommon upholstery and a manual transmission aren’t this car’s only attractions. The bodywork presents in Pearl Blue Metallic and is debadged save for the hatch-mounted star. According to the ad, that paint is a respray over an original coat of Bornite Metallic. That is evident on the radiator support in the engine bay.

Respray or not, the paint looks to be in excellent condition, albeit with one minor compromise: The monochromatic treatment eliminates the contrasting color of the lower cladding, which is kind of a hallmark of the W124 estate. Making up for that somewhat is a full-circle body kit and AMG monoblock wheels.

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Photo: Craigslist

The wagon appears to have been lowered a bit on those wheels, which adds a nice hunkered-down look. The aero kit looks great in the pics, although I’m OCD’ing a little bit over the one shot where one of the jack point caps is missing from the rocker. What happened there?

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The interior looks just as well kept as the bodywork and has both wood trim and some of the biggest door speaker boxes you’ve ever seen outside of The Fast and the Furious. Unlike many European four-door wagons of this era, all the doors feature electric windows here. The killer in here, however, is the third-row seat. That makes this a seven-seater as long as three of those seven don’t mind rubbing hips and two don’t mind being child-sized.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Photo: Craigslist

The ad notes a clear title and just 92,500 miles on the clock. The seller claims the car to have “no major mechanical issues or flaws” and says there’s plenty of tread left on the Michelin Pilots it presently wears.

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There is no mention of when this car was imported, nor if it carries a current U.S. title. It’s over 25 years old so registration shouldn’t be too much of a bear, at least outside of places like California where they don’t like to play by federal rules.

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Photo: Craigslist
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W124 Estates are creeping up on their earlier W123 siblings as far as price. Despite that, you can still find the occasional fright pig around for a couple of grand. This car is about as far from that as possible. That naturally means it should command something of a premium, but what we’ll need to decide is whether the car’s $19,995 asking is just too premium for our tastes.

What do you think, is this uniquely-kitted estate worth shelling out that $19,995 asking? Or, does that price make this gray-market car a black hole of value?

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You decide!

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New York City Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Apexer for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I’m not opposed to eating at a place like Carrabba’s. If it’s what you have around you, the food is good, but not great. You’ll pay $13.99 for a well executed pasta dish, and a $7 glass of wine.

Now imagine if Carrabba’s was $39.99 a plate, and they decided that Rombauer was the house chardonnay. All of a sudden, it’s a bad deal.

That’s what happened here. It’s a nice German wagon, with good paint, a proper handshaker, and nicely styled exterior bits. But it’s also $20K. At $10K, hell yeah. At $12K? Maybe. At $16K it’s a price that gets your wife hiring a divorce attorney. At $20K, your family is having you committed.

Love the car, but it's still a pasta dish. I got a max price I'm gonna pay for good spaghetti, and it's about half what this asking price is.