Probably the best car I've ever owned! We purchased our 97 E300D with confidence because it was steadily serviced and well maintained by a family member. I would snap up one with that kind of a track record. We purchased with 200K miles. The most notable repairs over the past 20 plus years have been replacing the injector seals and the engine mount. From other reviews I've read, most 210s will need that kind of care. Everything else has been typical maintenance and simple repairs. I have not had problems with the electric transmission or window motors but the service man has done simple preventative things to keep them from failing (replacing the tranny fluid and filter even though it is 'sealed' and periodically lubing the window channels and guides). Just maintain it and drive it sensibly, and it will last another 20 years.
Just recently bought a 1997 E320 with 93K original miles, and have (almost) nothing but positive things to say about it. 3.2L L6 has ample power and acceleration. I was particularly surprised with the handling - for a nearly 17 foot long 4000 lb. car, it hugs the corners. Grumbles a bit in lower gear but really purrs on the highway. Cabin is silent with very little wind noise. The ride is very smooth, nearly no engine vibration, although the suspension is tight enough that you get good tactile feedback through the steering. The interior is the best selling point, all wood trim and leather with none of that molded plastic junk luxury car brands try to charge a premium for these days. The automatic climate control is simple and effective. It's a 20 year old car, so obviously the electronics are dated, but a simple aftermarket radio in mine has bluetooth. Your cell phone can cover that gap with navigation and streaming apps. The biggest drawback is the rear wheel drive being very loose in slippery conditions. The transmission has a winter setting that starts you off in 2nd gear, but there's still a lot of torque being applied to the rear wheels typical of an L6. The hood release lever is also awkwardly located, being very easy to accidentally kick when entering the driver's seat (although the manual release lever in the grille prevents unintended hood release). Maintenance costs will be somewhat steep so don't treat it like a beater. Take care of issues when they come up and this car will take care of you. Oil changes are particularly important as this car has a timing chain, not a timing belt. Oil changes will be the difference between getting 200k or 400k out of this car. All in all, if you find one in good condition, buy it! Pleasure to drive and timeless styling.
As can be expected with european vehicles, parts/repairs are expensive. Our '97 E420 was purchased in 2008 from the original owner, with only 23,000 miles to its name (picture trips to and from the grocery store, and that's about it). It is a BLAST to drive, but the number of times and various reasons it has had to return to the shop has me eager to find alternative before something else goes wrong. I refer to some of the more expensive repairs as 'mid-life crisis' items that were bound to happen sometime (e.g. oxygen sensors, various filters), but having to rebuild the transmission at 160,000 miles and repairing the catalytic converter at 175,000-ish miles made me wish I wasn't driving such a *nice* car. However, I must say that it is a tough car. We were involved in a collision on the interstate, when the driver behind us rear-ended us at 70 mph or so (we were going maybe 50-55 mph on the off-ramp). The resulting damage to the rear bumper was much less significant than it could have been. The seats are not the most road-trip friendly; they begin to feel uncomfortable on really long trips (4+ hours). The interior looks nice; it's a really classy ride. I will miss it for many reasons when we do try and sell it and find something else.
Long term owner here. zI've had 4 MB Diesels over the years and the straight 6 engine is legendary; robust and thrifty. I do most all my own work and love the engineering that goes into MB products. I use the diesels as my daily commuter and for trips. I get over 32 mpg and its comfortable and quiet.
Just hit a concrete wall on the CA I15 doing eighty mphr on Feb 17,2017 and my air bags not one of the deployed so long for safety luckily nobody got seriously hurt guess that's what you get for buying a German car guess I'll go back to good ol'usa made vehicle's