Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

With its front-fender vent, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe E320 might look like it’s a diesel, but it’s not. That subtle disguise may not stump you, but will its price?

When I was a kid, a popular rejoinder for those outside of one’s social circle was “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.” As an adult, I can see how hurtful that can be. I also see that’s it’s apropos for yesterday’s 1991 Jeep Wrangler with its “Landrunner” body kit, at least based on the comments it drew.

Yes, the Hummer-aping kit did replace the YJ’s unpopular rectangular headlamps, which was a plus. The rest however, was a bit of a mess, and at $6,700 it was deemed by 66 percent of you to be too expensive a mess to clean up, earning the Jeep a Crack Pipe loss.

Hey, quick question: what do you think has been the most effective of automotive disguises? Could it be the Rolls Royce grille and hood kit for the old-school VW Beetle? Maybe it was the Mustang II’s COBRA badging which promised performance but only offered copious amounts of disappointment instead.

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For me it’s always been phony-baloney elements on cars. Whether its glossy black plastic pretending to be a window, or the fake allen head screws on the dash of the third-gen Camaro, those non-functional elements really don’t float my boat.

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Today’s 1995 Mercedes Benz E320 estate has an appended visual element that you could easily consider superfluous. That’s its five-fingers-of-fate vent that sits proudly on the left-front fender. This was a semi-iconic design element of the later W124 diesels. Here? Who know what it’s doing.

I can tell you that there is no diesel engineunder this wagon’s hood. Being an E320, what it gets is the 3199cc M104 inline gas six. That’s a DOHC engine and from the factory produced 228 horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque, decent enough numbers to move the wagon’s modest 3,600 pounds.

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That’s matched to the standard Mercedes 722 five-speed automatic, and both engine and transmission are claimed by the seller to be “solid” and, as is typical in ads of this nature, to “run well.” They have been doing so apparently for more than 240,000 miles and before you get all jaw-droppy over that number, remember that this generation of E-class is considered one of the last great Benzes when it comes to build quality and dependability.

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None of that matters if it’s not kept up and the ad claims that on this Benz, “most maintenance has been done.” Part of that includes what the seller says are “new brakes.” I would expect that to mean a set of fresh pads, but the work could have been more extensive.

Wrapped around those brakes are what he humorously describes as “Other model Mercedes wheels gives it an updated look.” Okay, I’ll allow it.

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The Black Pearl Metallic paint looks reasonably serviceable up top. There’s an edge trim on the hatch needs attention however, and there’s some sort of sticker above that that will also need to go.

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Moving inside things look pretty tidy. The grey upholstery seems in decent shape with only some cracking in the passenger seat leather about which to complain. In back there’s a missing ashtray in the off-side door but everything else looks intact. We don’t get a shot of the load area so who’s to say what’s going on back there.

On the downside, the ad notes that the Benz “has cut springs by the previous owner to lower the car.” Who on earth does that to an E-class wagon? Those springs will need to be replaced lest someone think you did the drop and consider you a doofus for having done so.

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A set of stock-height springs should set you back under $250, but you will need a spring compressor and a lot of courage to switch them out so take that into account.

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Another issue noted in the ad is a bit of a wander at idle. The seller says his mechanic told him cleaning the MAF or IACV would address that, but were it that simple I’d guess it would have been done. I’d also guess that the true culprit will be a challenge to detect. That may be the reason for the sale.

That’s likely one of the reasons for the car’s $2,800 asking price as well. You now need to decide if that’s a fair bit of change to ask for the car as it’s described. What do you think, could this diesel-fendered E320 be a deal at that price? Or, is that just disguising its poor value?

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You decide!

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Orange County, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to EdHelmsBakery for the hookup!

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