1990 Mercedes 300TE

About the 300TE

The 300TE is a station wagon in Mercedes-Benz midsize range.   This would later become known as the E-Class.    The 300TE is part of the 124 series, produced from 1985-1996.    While Mercedes-Benz had been producing the mid size range since before the war, the station wagon was introduced in 1978 as part of the 123 series.   The S124 station wagons were the second generation wagons and built upon the very successful S123.

Mercedes-Benz Australia never seemed to be able to make their mind up if they wanted to offer the four cylinder or six cylinder wagon in this market.   They sort of oscillated between both at various times, with short overlaps selling both models.   1990 was such a year, where you could have the 230TE for $96,200 or the 300TE for $133,966.    To put that eye watering price into perspective, the 2007 E350 Wagon that my wife owns was actually cheaper 17 years later at $132,500.    That would be equivalent to $205,030 adjusted for inflation to 2007, or $296,847 in 2022 dollars.

Needless to say, these wagons never sold in massive numbers, but were status symbols in rich suburbs, in much the same way something like a Porsche Cayenne is now.   The S124 wagons are rapidly gaining in popularity as a classic, as is the W124 in general.   It is considered by many the last of the engineering first midsize Mercedes.

The 124 series had two facelifts during its production run, one in 1989 and the second in 1993.   The first facelift added the sacco panels to the lower part of the car, painted in a complementary tone to the body work of the car.   It also added more wood to the dash and door trims.    There were other minor improvements at the same time.   The second facelift was more substantial, changing the front end to bring the cars into line with the W140, and introducing a whole range of new engines.  These engines had computer controlled fuel injection which made them more powerful and efficient.   The downside of them was the engine wiring was biodegradable.   30 years in a hot engine bay caused them to prematurely biodegrade causing major repairs.

About this car

This 1990 Mercedes 300TE was produced in August 1990.   It wouldn’t get an Australian compliance plate and be sold until January 1991.    It is finished in 888 Beryll Metallic paint with a 175 Cream MB-Tex interior.  I really like the colour combination, but it can’t have been too popular as this colour is rarely seen in Australia.   The options fitted (see below) are pretty standard for an Australian delivered 1990 300TE wagon.

1990 Mercedes 300TE

The early ownership history is quite interesting.   It was delivered to Mercedes-Benz Australia in Milperra by MB Sydney.    They only kept the car six months, before it was sold again by MB-Sydney as a used car with warranty to Sulo MGB Pty Ltd in Frenches Forest, a suburb in Northern Sydney.    They would keep it about three and a half years, before it was again sold by MB Sydney as a used car with warranty (now with almost 75,000km) to a David A Livingstone, in Wharoonga, another suburb in Northern Sydney.   Mr Livingstone would keep the car for more than twelve years.   During all this time, the car wore the NSW plate RQV-984.

Apparently it was commonplace for Mercedes-Benz Australia to assign these cars to employees for a short term such as this.   It was a perk for the employee and also helped inflate the sales figures.   Given the price of the 300TE, it was likely some kind of manager.

There is a small gap of about 3.5 years in the service history after that.   Some time in that period the car made its way up to Queensland and would find another long term owner.   It was purchased  in May of 2011 with 294,000 on the clock.   The car would remain with that owner for 11.5 years and reach 372,00km.    It then came back down to Sydney again to a new owner who planned to keep it long term.   He spent quite a lot on repairs such as a full transmission rebuild, new dash wood and more.    Sadly for him,  moving away from Sydney meant the car had to be sold, which is where I come in.   I’ve been able to talk extensively to the last two owners of the car about the service history which has been great.

I had been thinking of selling my 300SE for a while.   Three W126s is almost too much of a good thing, and the car just wasn’t seeing the same use as it did before.   It’s the car I primarily use to take my kids to various weekend activities.   Now they are a bit older, I thought a wagon would be more practical.   This one with the towbar would also allow for a bike rack and other accessories like that.   And after six years I just felt like a change.

I was specifically after a W124 300TE wagon, preferably one from after the first facelift.   This 1990 Mercedes 300TE wagon really fit the bill with its overall good condition, extensive service history and interesting colour scheme really fit the bill.   I didn’t really want a 230TE, and it had to be old enough (30 years) to go on club rego.   In any case, I wasn’t as keen on a car with the biodegradable wiring harness, if I could find one, as the E280 was only sold for about 18 months, and I wasn’t interested in a 220.

Option codes

Option CodeMeaning
233Foglamp wiring for F/CH/AUS/S/N
240Outside temperature indicator
280Leather steering wheel & gear shift knob
340Additional 3rd stop lamp
412Electronic sliding roof with tilting device
420Automatic Transmission (Floor Shift)
440Tempomat (Cruise Control)
524Paintwork preservation
547Double roller blind & Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors
570Folding armrest, front
586Behr air conditioner and electric windows
598Heat insulating glass for side and rear windows, heated rear window
615611: Courtesy lamps, front and rear doors
613: Lamp unit, Asymmetrical, LH Traffic
625Version for Australia
64015-Hole light alloy rims
677Tropical battery
722Baggage rack, integrated
625Version for Australia
8011991 Model year
844Folding seat bench in loading compartment

What’s next

  1. Fit original orange front corners
  2. Find original roof racks
  3. Find Becker radio and fix front left speaker
  4. Fix tailgate struts

Related posts

  1. January 2023 - Introducing my 1990 Mercedes 300TE
  2. February 2023 - 300TE first improvements
  3. February 2023 - Planning 300TE repairs and improvements
  4. February 2023 - Fitting S124 factory cross bars
  5. March 2023 - W124 fan clutch and other cooling system improvements
  6. March 2023 - 300TE Thermostat change
  7. March 2023 - W124 Becker radio install - part 1
  8. March 2023 - W124 Becker radio install – part 2
  9. March 2023 - W124 Becker radio install – part 3
  10. April 2023 - 300TE Tailgate struts
  11. May 2023 - W124 Gullideckel wheels
  12. July 2023 - W124 Ignition tumbler
  13. November 2023 - Refurbishing a W124 instrument cluster - Part 1: Lubricating the speedo cable
  14. November 2023 - Refurbishing a W124 instrument cluster – Part 2: W124 outside temperature display
  15. November 2023 - Refurbishing a W124 instrument cluster – Part 3: Changing the housing
  16. November 2023 - 300TE speaker upgrade - Part 1 - rears
  17. November 2023 - 300TE speaker upgrade – Part 2 – fronts
  18. November 2023 - Failing at changing the W124 centre vent
  19. November 2023 - Refurbishing a W124 instrument cluster – Part 4: Installation and testing
  20. December 2023 - Preparing my 300TE for a family road trip