Introducing my 1990 Mercedes 300TE

Now I have sold my 1986 Mercedes 300SE, time to introduce its replacement, a 1990 300TE.   I had been keeping my eye out for a good driver quality S124 wagon for a while.    I wanted a car I could use for things like taking my kids bikes around and so on.   The S124 really fits the bill for this.    I think these Mercedes-Benz E-class wagons are exceptional cars, and hugely preferable to an SUV.    Others must agree, as prices have been rising considerably over the last couple of years.

1990 300TE

Surprisingly, the 300TE is a much smaller car than the 300SE was.   It’s shorter and narrower than the W126 was.   It has the folding 3rd row of seats for children, and a huge cargo area that is easy to load as its not so high off the ground.

In Australia, the S124 was offered as a 230TE (1986-1990), 300TE (1989-1993), 300TE 2.8/E280 (1993-1994), E220 (1994-1996).   I was specifically looking for a 300TE, and in particular, a post 1st facelift model (as most 300TEs were).   In my mind, its the sweet spot of the S124 range.   The M103 is a great engine, and some of its early issues were resolved by 1989.    Having driven a 230TE before, I found the performance a bit lacking.   I also wanted something that qualified for historic rego, so that ruled out most of the later models.   In any case,  the E280 was only imported for about 18 months, and finding one with evidence that the wiring harness is fixed properly is not easy.

I bought this 300TE, because I really liked how it had an almost complete service history, and a lot of recent work done including a transmission rebuild and new dash wood.    Considering these cars were often used a family haulers, the interior is really nice.

1990 300TEThe only real issue is the damaged arm rest.  I have a second hand W126 unit I hope to be able to use parts from to fix the one in my car.    I really like the colour combination of 888 Beryll with cream MB-Tex.   It can’t have been to popular when new as I’ve only seen a couple of other cars in this colour, and never a wagon.

The paint is a bit faded on the roof, but this car is going to be as close to a daily as any car I own, so that was preferable to paying a lot extra for one with perfect paint.    There are a few other minor things to address, but overall the car is in pretty nice shape.   For more details about the car and its option codes, click here.

1990 300TEThe car drives really well – you can definitely notice the newly rebuilt transmission.    It also gets much better fuel consumption than my 300SE did.   I think the injectors were replaced not too long ago which is probably a bit part of it.

It’s also a more practical car than the 300SE was, and given I have two other W126, offers something different I don’t have in my other cars.   The 375,000km on the clock would probably scare off a lot of people.  I would prefer a high miler with good service history than lower recorded milage without.   Hopefully I’ll be able to take it beyond 400,000km during my ownership.

1990 300TE

So far I have only found one thing annoying about the car.   Being a post 1989 model, you need to put the key in the ignition and press the brake to put the gear selector into neutral.   I often push my cars back into position when parking them due to tight spaces, and this means leaving the key in the ignition.   At some point I will see if I can defeat this system.

2023-01-26 14-38-20Time will tell, but so far I am quite happy with the purchase.

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