The Best Older Mercedes to Buy Right Now

Best Older Mercedes To Buy

W124 E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz W124, produced from 1984 to 1997, is widely regarded as one of the best older Mercedes models to buy. Renowned for its exceptional build quality, durability, and timeless design, the W124 E-Class offers a compelling blend of classic Mercedes-Benz virtues.

The W124 was available in various body styles, including a sedan, coupe, wagon, and cabriolet. Powerplant options ranged from fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines to powerful six-cylinder and even V8 engines. The model's reputation for reliability stems from its robust engineering and over-engineered components. The W124's suspension system, for instance, was designed to withstand demanding road conditions and provide a comfortable ride.

When considering a W124 E-Class, it's essential to prioritize models with comprehensive service history. Look for vehicles that have been well-maintained and have documented evidence of regular servicing. Pay attention to rust, as it can be a concern in older vehicles. Common areas to inspect for rust include the wheel arches, undercarriage, and around the windows.

The W124 E-Class, particularly the later models with updated interiors and features, offers a compelling combination of classic Mercedes-Benz styling, durability, and driving enjoyment, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable and stylish older Mercedes.

R129 SL-Class

The Mercedes-Benz R129 SL-Class, produced from 1989 to 2002, is considered by many to be one of the best older Mercedes models to buy. Its timeless design, robust build quality, and advanced engineering make it a compelling choice for classic car enthusiasts.

The R129 SL is renowned for its luxurious interior, powerful engine options, and impressive safety features. It was one of the first cars to feature a pop-up roll bar, a testament to Mercedes-Benz's commitment to safety.

When looking for an R129 SL, it's essential to find one with a well-documented service history. Pay close attention to the condition of the soft top, as replacements can be expensive. Models with lower mileage and meticulous maintenance tend to hold their value exceptionally well.

While the R129 SL offers a fantastic driving experience, it's essential to remember that it's an older vehicle. Regular maintenance and occasional repairs are to be expected. However, for those seeking a stylish, well-built, and enjoyable classic Mercedes, the R129 SL-Class is undoubtedly a top contender.

W140 S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class, produced from 1991 to 1998, is a compelling choice for those seeking the best older Mercedes models. Renowned for its over-engineered design and exceptional build quality, the W140 offers a unique blend of luxury, performance, and durability.

Consider these factors when exploring the W140 S-Class:

best older mercedes to buy

Engine Options: From the smooth and powerful inline-six engines found in the 300SE and S320 models to the potent V8s in the S420 and S500, and the magnificent V12 in the S600, there's a W140 to suit every taste and performance preference.

Luxury and Features: The W140 S-Class set new standards for luxury. Features like dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and advanced sound systems were groundbreaking for their time and remain impressive today.

Durability and Reliability: The W140 was built to last. Its robust engineering and high-quality materials contribute to its reputation for longevity.

Maintenance: While generally reliable, the W140 is a complex car. Regular maintenance by specialized mechanics familiar with these models is crucial to keep it running smoothly. Parts availability can be a consideration, although online resources and specialist suppliers have made sourcing parts easier.

Overall, the W140 S-Class remains an icon of automotive excellence. Its combination of luxury, performance, and durability makes it a compelling choice for those seeking the best older Mercedes models. However, potential buyers should be prepared for the maintenance demands and potential costs associated with owning such a sophisticated machine.

W202 C-Class

The Mercedes-Benz W202 C-Class, produced from 1993 to 2000, presents a compelling option for those seeking a blend of classic Mercedes-Benz qualities and affordability. This generation marked a significant shift for Mercedes, introducing a smaller and more affordable model without compromising the brand's commitment to engineering and luxury.

The W202 C-Class offers a range of reliable petrol and diesel engines. The petrol engines, particularly the four-cylinder variants like the C180 and C200, are known for their durability and fuel efficiency. For diesel enthusiasts, the C220 Diesel and C250 Diesel provide a compelling blend of performance and economy.

When considering a W202, prioritize finding a well-maintained example with a comprehensive service history. Pay attention to rust, a common issue in older vehicles, particularly around wheel arches and underbody areas. Inside, the W202 boasts a well-built and ergonomically sound cabin. While the design might seem dated by today's standards, it exudes a classic Mercedes-Benz feel. Look for models with desirable features like leather seats, automatic climate control, and sunroof, which can enhance the ownership experience.

The W202 C-Class embodies the spirit of a true Mercedes-Benz, offering a balance of comfort, performance, and build quality. With careful consideration and proper inspection, the W202 can be a rewarding and enjoyable entry point into the world of classic Mercedes-Benz ownership.

W210 E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz W210 E-Class, produced from 1995 to 2002, often gets overlooked in the conversation of the best older Mercedes models. But don't be so quick to dismiss it. This generation of E-Class, particularly with the diesel engines, offers a compelling blend of classic Mercedes durability, comfort, and affordability.

best older mercedes to buy

The W210 was the first E-Class to widely adopt diesel engines in the US market, and these engines have earned a reputation for their longevity. Look for the E300 Diesel, later known as the E320 CDI, for exceptional fuel efficiency and long-lasting performance.

While not as flashy as its successors, the W210 possesses a timeless design and a well-crafted interior. You get that classic Mercedes feel, with comfortable seating, solid build quality, and a smooth ride.

Of course, like any older car, maintenance is key. Be prepared to address common issues like rust, suspension wear, and electrical gremlins. However, with proper care, a W210 E-Class can provide a luxurious and reliable driving experience for a fraction of the cost of a new Mercedes. Just be sure to have a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic to ensure you're getting a well-maintained example.

R170 SLK-Class

The first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class (R170) debuted in 1996 and quickly became a coveted roadster. Known for its iconic retractable hardtop (vario roof) that transformed it from a coupe to a convertible in seconds, the R170 SLK offered a unique blend of style, performance, and open-air driving thrills.

Best Older Mercedes-Benz Models to Buy
Model Years Known For Average Price (Used) Reliability
W124 (E-Class) 1985-1995 Over-engineered, Durability, Classic Design $5,000 - $15,000 Excellent
R129 (SL-Class) 1989-2002 Timeless Styling, Convertible, Powerful Engines $8,000 - $25,000 Good
W140 (S-Class) 1991-1998 Luxury, Advanced Technology (for its time), Smooth Ride $4,000 - $12,000 Above Average

While early models had some issues with electrical gremlins and head gasket problems (particularly in the pre-facelift SLK230), the post-2000 models are generally considered more reliable. Look for an SLK32 AMG if you're after performance. Its supercharged 3.2-liter V6 engine packs a punch and provides exhilarating acceleration. However, be prepared for higher maintenance costs with the AMG variant.

If you prioritize reliability and lower running costs, the SLK230 Kompressor (supercharged) or the later SLK350 offer a good balance of performance and affordability. Regardless of your choice, a thorough pre-purchase inspection is crucial when considering an Pay close attention to the roof's operation, check for rust in the common areas (wheel arches, jack points), and look for any signs of neglect in maintenance.

best older mercedes to buy

W163 M-Class

The W163 M-Class, produced from 1997 to 2004, was Mercedes-Benz's first foray into the luxury SUV market. While not known for its off-road prowess, the M-Class offered a comfortable ride, spacious interior, and respectable performance. Early models had their share of reliability issues, so it's crucial to find one with a well-documented service history. Look for the facelifted models (2002-2005) for improved reliability and updated features. The ML320 and ML350 offer a good balance of power and fuel efficiency. However, be prepared for potentially higher maintenance costs compared to other SUVs of this era. If you're set on a W163, a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a Mercedes-Benz specialist is a must.

Buying Tips

When considering an older Mercedes-Benz, prioritize condition over mileage. A well-maintained model, even with higher mileage, often outlasts a neglected one. Look for detailed service records as proof of proper care. Focus your search on models known for their reliability. The W124 E-Class (1985-1995), particularly the diesel variants, are legendary for their durability. The W201 190E (1982-1993) also boasts a robust reputation. For a coupe, the R107 SL (1971-1989) offers classic styling and renowned build quality. Before purchasing, a pre-purchase inspection by a specialized Mercedes-Benz mechanic is essential. This helps uncover hidden issues and provides a clearer picture of the car's true condition. While older Mercedes models are generally reliable, factor in the cost of potential repairs. Parts can be expensive, so having a financial buffer is wise. Joining Mercedes-Benz enthusiast clubs or online forums can provide valuable insights, maintenance tips, and potential purchase advice. Remember, buying an older Mercedes is an investment. Thorough research, careful inspection, and a realistic budget are key to enjoying the timeless appeal of these German machines.

Common Issues

While Mercedes-Benz vehicles are renowned for their luxury and performance, older models, like any used car, can present potential issues. It's essential to be aware of these common problems before making a purchase.

Rust can be a concern, especially in models from the 1980s and 1990s, particularly around wheel arches, underbody components, and door sills. Electrical gremlins can also arise in older Mercedes, manifesting as faulty sensors, power window malfunctions, or issues with the climate control system.

Aging suspension components, such as bushings, ball joints, and shock absorbers, might require attention, leading to a less comfortable ride and potential handling issues. Automatic transmissions, particularly in models from the 1990s and early 2000s, have been known to experience problems, often requiring expensive repairs or replacements.

best older mercedes to buy

While Mercedes engines are generally durable, older models can suffer from oil leaks, timing chain issues, or head gasket failures, especially if not meticulously maintained.

Before buying an older Mercedes, a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic specializing in the brand is crucial. This inspection can help identify potential problems and provide an estimate of repair costs, enabling you to make an informed decision.

Maintenance Costs

While older Mercedes-Benz models are renowned for their durability, it's essential to remember that maintenance costs can be a significant factor. As cars age, components wear down, requiring more frequent repairs and replacements.

Mercedes-Benz parts are generally more expensive than those for mainstream brands. This is especially true for older models, where finding compatible parts might require sourcing from specialized suppliers or salvage yards. Labor costs for Mercedes-Benz repairs also tend to be higher due to the complexity of their engineering.

However, don't let this deter you. Some older Mercedes models are known for their reliability and reasonable maintenance costs. For instance, the W124 E-Class (1985-1995) and the W201 190E (1982-1993) are often praised for their robust build quality and relatively straightforward mechanics. These models can be a good choice for those looking for a classic Mercedes experience without breaking the bank.

Before purchasing any older Mercedes, it's crucial to factor in potential maintenance costs. Getting a pre-purchase inspection from a qualified Mercedes-Benz mechanic is highly recommended. This can help identify any existing issues or potential future problems, allowing you to make an informed decision and budget accordingly.

Why Choose a Mercedes?

Mercedes-Benz has a reputation for building luxurious, reliable, and stylish cars. Even their older models offer a compelling blend of these qualities, making them an attractive option for savvy buyers. Here's why you should consider a used Mercedes:

Build quality is a hallmark of Mercedes-Benz. These cars are built to last, and many older models are still cruising the roads with hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock. You can find a well-maintained Mercedes that will provide years of reliable service.

Mercedes are engineered for a smooth, comfortable ride. They offer a luxurious driving experience that's hard to match, even in older models.

Mercedes-Benz vehicles, even older ones, retain their value well compared to other brands. This is due to their reputation for quality and desirability.

best older mercedes to buy

Consider these models if you're looking for a great used Mercedes:

W124 E-Class (1985-1995) Known for its durability and classic styling.

W202 C-Class (1993-2000) A more affordable option that still delivers a Mercedes experience.

R129 SL-Class (1989-2002) A stylish and luxurious roadster that's sure to turn heads.

W140 S-Class (1991-1998) The epitome of luxury and prestige, even in its older years.

Remember to do your research, get a pre-purchase inspection, and choose a model that fits your needs and budget. A well-maintained older Mercedes can provide a fantastic driving experience for years to come.

Choosing a pre-owned Mercedes-Benz is a great way to experience luxury and performance at a more attainable price. Remember to prioritize thorough inspections, maintenance records, and a reputable seller to ensure a satisfying ownership experience. With proper care and attention, your older Mercedes-Benz can provide many miles of enjoyable driving.