For $1,498, You Can Never Go Back

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

Quicksand is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning that while appearing solid, a minuscule change in surface stress will cause a rapid change in its viscosity. Once you are trapped within it, struggling to get out will only exacerbate your predicament. I’ll leave it to you to decide what that has to do with today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 300TE, and while you’re at it, you can decide if its price gives you a sinking feeling too.

This week we had double shot of my baby's love cut up Nissan cars. Wednesday’s holy roller 300zx engendering the most rabble-rabble, while yesterday’s soft roofied 1971 240Z hardly caused a ripple. It was its price that doomed that cool drop top turbo to a 58% Crack Pipe loss, but still it hasn’t been a great run for the boys from Nissan Jidōsha KK.


Have you ever considered drowning in quicksand? It seems to happen far more often in the movies than you hear occurring in real life, but I’m sure some people are just so unfortunate as to go out that way. And not just the assholes either.

Today’s 1988 Mercedes Benz 300TE might - and I have to stress, might - be the automotive equivalent of sinking in that non-Newtonian goo. These S1124 wagons are pretty rock-solid cars, although perhaps not so much as their nearly hand-built W123 predecessors. Still it’s a Benz from the era before the German company started feeling Lexus breathing down their corporate neck and began a concerted effort to cheap-out their low and mid-range models.


These are also really good looking cars. Not only does the longroof edition of the W124 (code name S124) maintain elegant lines that still look fresh today, but when painted in a dark hue like this one’s ebony coat, they look downright sporty. Glass - and hence non-myasmic headlamps, as well as a rump cleared of badging adds to the likables on the car.

Perhaps not so, are what might be sizable scratches in the right rear and front left fenders (which admittedly could be reflections) and the ad’s admission of some rust in the usual places. Other than that the chunky factory alloys and complete trim give the car points.


The interior is likewise relatively tidy although the seller notes a loose armrest in back, and the pictures show what looks to be a crack in the driver’s seat leather. Also, maybe it’s the flash but the flesh-tones of the seats standing in contrast to the tan color of the rest of the car is kind of creeping me out in a it rubs the lotion on its skin sort of way.


But here’s where the car may potentially turn to quicksand. The seller notes a litany of parts that he has had to replace on this Benz, and not just the typical consumables. He’s poured over $3K into keeping the 177-bhp 12-valve six running and keeping its cool, and that doesn’t even include the ad’s final zinger, the fact that the reverse gear in the 4-speed autobox has crapped its tranny pants.

He still drives it of course, hoping no doubt not to accidentally drive down a narrow cul-de-sac or be faced with an advancing tsunami on a one-way street. The 4G-Tronic is considered by many to be one of the best boxes out there, and while repairing this one - likely requiring just a new B3 band and maybe a clutch pack - will be expensive, it’ll probably be all that it’ll need for a while at least.


The ad says the car's odo gave up the fight at 153,000, and the engine was replaced (?!) at 60K. Still, since both car and the fuel injected Benz 103 have a strong rep, we'll cut them some slack, what do you say?


Because of the tranny issue the seller hasn’t been driving the Benz much, at least according to the ad just around the block every now and then to keep it young and supple. Instead he’s down to his Saab 900 (Geez, doesn’t this guy have any cars that are cheap to fix?) and is now looking for a motorcycle in place of the 7-seat longroof.

Of course, few of us happen to have a spare bike laying around and so perhaps his offer to give the car up for $1,498 cash is more workable. Considering all that this car has taken to maintain, and the issue with its lack of back-upability, what do you think about that price? Is $1,498 a deal for so solid if potentially wallet-consuming a car? Or, does its price and condition have you backing away?


You decide!


Kalamazoo Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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