In one sentence, it is a beautiful car!
I have been driving Japanese makes for the past 10 years, my most recent one being a Camry. I thought I'd try out a Merc, just to see... But at the same time, I didn't want and couldn't afford an expensive mistake or a lemon, so I played it 'safe' by getting this old, but pretty reliable model (I did my homework).
This car came from UK. The previous owner brought it back with him when he came home in 1993, and used it until recently.
I will venture to say it is in mint condition; no accidents at all, no rust anywhere (I checked every inch), paintwork original, even the wheel caps are original. Air-con is wonderful.
No leaks, squeaks, rattles, funny sounds nor noises.
The interior is pristine. The dashboard is perfect, not a single crack or mark. The same goes for the door fabrics, all the stitches still in place. The MBtex material is still shiny and unblemished. No unsightly grease marks, prints nor stains anywhere. Credit goes to the previous guy, I'm just doing my best to continue his fine legacy.
The manual sunroof is still in good condition and doesn't leak, though I seldom use it.
Whatever that's powered or electrical that's suppose to work, works. Period.
The build quality is simply superb. For an 18 year old car, it's quite incredible that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Structurally sound and bomb proof, I've not seen anything like it.
You need to experience closing those doors to feel what a solid 'thunk' sound like. It is very reassuring.
True, I need to make some adjustments to drive it; placement of hand brake, ignition, main lights, bonnet level, but it is a small matter.
The wagon space is very good for all sorts of stuff imaginable. With the rear seats folded flat, I've actually taken a nap there. Good for two.
The car came with a towing device fitted at the rear bumper, and a roof rack (were these factory fitted?) Very good for the weekend fishing trips with the gang.
It is not a speed demon. You will be disappointed at the traffic lights. At approximately 1,500kgs and 2000cc, it is at best, a cruiser. And what a cruiser!
I think the car is happiest when I'm traveling long distance. Its strength lies not so much in sprinting, but in the marathon.
Then, the engine purrs, the suspension takes in whatever you may care to go over with aplomb. The air con is still strong enough to cool the 7th passenger, and the original Becker is still blaring out the local tunes. (An aside - I found the Becker finger friendly. Much easier to operate than many other modern systems).
This car has a tendency to urge you on. It is a beast to move about at <60 kph, but above that, it excels. If I am not attentive, it will easily go past 140kph without the slightest hint.
It is just so steady and assured, you don't feel any changes in the engine noise; no wailings, no straining, no shudder nor vibration. The car does not shake nor rattle. Just the needle crawling upwards and rightwards.
However, I find the side mirrors a tad smallish. It can be difficult to check for vehicles, especially as the back pillars (D pillars?) are broad. My solution is to stick those little round convex mirrors at the edge of the side mirrors. Ungainly looking, but they help visibility quite a bit.
Though deemed unnecessary, I have also installed rear reverse sensors. (I can't bear to think if I were careless enough to dent the bumper..). Instead of drilling holes in the bumper (classic, by the way), I had the sensors installed just beneath the metal part, so it looks like 2 little black moulds next to the reverse and fog lights. Doesn't look too bad at all, really.
The other sore point is the fuel consumption. I knew beforehand that this is no economical sub 2000cc sipper, but the returns are quite terrible; roughly 60 litres for 350km. As a comparison, my Camry averages 500km. And it's a 2.2
Is this normal? But anyway, given that it is a carburettor, it's old, and pretty heavy, I can live with it. Just another adjustment to make..
Overall, I believe it is a good buy. I love this car and my only regret is I did not own it from day 1.