To start with an absolutely vital piece of information is (300) means its the inline 6, (S)=S-class (E)=Fuel injected. Being the M104 engine in the early 90's Merc thought it was a great idea to be "environmentally friendly" So some cars from 91-93 had bio-degradable engine wiring, and 94 and on had these harnesses... They were easily damaged by heat, meaning they usually fail around the intake manifold and other parts with extreme heat, causing mis-information to be sent to the computer making the engine search for idle, rev up and down, sometimes stall, and sometimes bog on hills as if it was towing a large trailer. The easiest way to tell is the wires around the intake and fuel injectors, wires should be soft and flexible with bright solid coatings.. if the wires are crumbling or missing coatings or appear to have (dry rot) don't buy the car unless you have deep pockets for a whole new harness. ONCE you understand this issue, you can understand that these are amazingly durable dependable cars, almost indestructible and smooth as glass. They glide down the road like a yacht on smooth waters, then take a corner flat as a pancake.. its un-explainable, NO other vehicle in existence gives this ride quality from a mechanical suspension! That being said, you could of had AIR RIDE in these cars, Do not buy one with it.. Make sure it has regular coil springs and gas shocks, the air models are far more expensive to maintain and will fail you almost as consistently as you need fuel.. Wich is the other issue, they get amazing fuel mileage if your on flat or mild hills, but as soon as you need to go up a hill or are in stop/go traffic expect to burn half a tank within a couple hours of driving.. and its a 26 Gallon fuel tank that requires 93 octane MINIMUM (10.5:1 compression engine) So the moral of the story? These cars are incredibly easy to work on yourself (surprisingly) and have a huge following with plenty of tech support and guys willing to walk you through maintenance procedures (to avoid visiting benz service aka, empty your pockets and remortgage the house) so, work on it yourself or be wealthy... there is no in-between. The good though? the car really doesn't need anything special, they take regular oil (NOT SYNTHETIC) synthetic oil makes them leak, they also take regular transmission fluid... again nothing special for the 91-93 cars. They take regular sized tires... nothing expensive. And its an S-Class, you have the peak of quality in engineering.. the most expensive car EVER made.. over 1 Billion dollars to get that steering wheel in your hands, and you feel it compared to even a brand new Benz, its just not.. the best.. so, you know what that means! The W140 is the King of the S-Class at the price of a Toyota Camry, and the difference? you can drive a W140 through the side of a bunker and out the other and keep going.. where you hit a bird with a Toyota and you'll probably die. That's about it! Oh don't crash it though, they don't make em like this any more.. and never will again (;
Pro: This is THE safest car we have ever owned. Our two daughters were both hit at speed at freeway speeds and walked away. I was rear ended in LA traffic at 50 mph and walked away, with zero damage to the car, even the bumper. This is an excellent freeway long distance car. 3000 lb. curb weight, so lots of German steel here. 3.0 Liter, 24 valve engine. Top speed when new was 147 mph (the speedometer goes to 160). This is a real autobahn flyer, made for long high speed runs. Quiet and smooth. Can carry 5 people with a full trunk of large luggage no problem. VERY reliable IF you keep up the maintenance 100%. You can do the oil changes on this car yourself. The tires can be rotated so we get 50-60 k miles out of our Michelins. We have 300k miles on the care now and its driven daily. Con: acceleration is slow 0-50 compared with modern light cars. Over 50 mph it really goes. It uses premium fuel only. You have to keep up the all the regular maintenance and any problems right away or they compound. This is a precision German car, which means only people who know how to work on a Mercedes should touch it. It uses the old pneumatic line system, so one has to know that system or they will really mess up the car. If it breaks down on the road, tow it however far it takes to get to the correct mechanic. Some people don't like it because it is "old" and has analog instruments, and few computer readouts for service. For me that makes it more usable and friendly to drive and one just needs to find the right mechanic. You can keep this car as long as you wish and as long as you can find a good Mercedes mechanic who likes the car. Taking this car to the dealer is far too expensive. This car has character.
The main problem with these older Mercedes is people who cannot afford to maintain them get them because of the cheap price.
These cars can take allot of abuse and you will not see many cars from 80s and 90s still on the road.
But everything requires up keep, even new cars.
I have a new BMW that I like, but it's not the same love affair as with my 300e.
I drove 2011 E-class before I bought my BMW and still think my 300e is a better car than the new Mercedes E-class. The new E-class is heavy and tiring to drive around town.
The smoothness of the transmission and engine is legendary. Even after 18 years, car rides like a dream.
If you can find one that has been well maintained you will be very happy.
I've owned 3 Benzes, all bought with some miles on them. Our W124 300E 2.8 is the remaining Benz in our garage and though it has 189k on its clock, it is still the most solid car of anything I've driven or ridden in, new or old. Safety is #1 in my book, as it saved the life of our daughter who was hit in the rear by a car doing 50mph. The Benz was properly repaired. I will always own a Benz. Every year, I put money in it to keep it going, but it soldiers on with class and style and is a blast to drive. Absolutely, it is one of the best Benzes ever made and one of the easiest to maintain. Great mileage, as well, as it still gets 28-30mpg on the i-state at 70mph.
Safety, Style, Mileage, Performance & sound of the DOHC 6 is very nice. Easy to maintain.
A 2 car family and wife doesn't drive much so drove about 3k per year. Problems began after warranty expired. Over the years Had to replace Ignition wiring, fuel pump, key lock that required replace steering wheel & air bags, cylinder head, ignition wiring harness. This should not happen to a Mercedes. Maintaining car expensive (is that what they mean by luxury car.Had much fewer problems with my Celica. 2nd car now Infinity.
Car handles beautifully and comfortable on long rides. Drove twice to Florida from Maryland and did not tire after hours on road
Pay as much attention to producing car as done to design