Originally Posted by kadman
I would appreciate your elaboration on the best years quoted.
Always happy to hear from the experts such as yourself, .
The W124 went through some facelifts. Series 1 cars up to mid 89, Series 1.5 cars to mid '92 and Series 2 cars to '95 - '97 (depending on the model)
Series 1 cars are the 'last of the bulletproof Mercs' as the worn out saying goes. These were built to the old Mercedes standards with proper steel and proper paint and are recognisable by not
having the plastic panels on the sills and door bottoms. These cars have the M102 and M103 petrol engines and OM 601/2/3 diesels. Some of the best engines ever made by anyone fitted to one of the best built bodyshells and interiors ever built by anyone! Period!
Series 1.5 cars sees the 'cars built when the accountants took over' as the other worn out old saying goes! This is when they changed to water based paints on the 124 and they simply didn't get it right. Cars from around 1990 onwards were affected but not all oddly! What was worse were the plastic panels on the doors and sills and they helped the breeding rust problems as they held all the damp muck thrown up from the road!
Series 2 cars got the new M111 and M104 engines with the biodegradable engine wiring harnesses, poor quality steel for the shell, water based paints that they still hadn't cracked and lesser quality interiors. These are identifiable by the facelifted front end. These cars rust and rust badly in places where the Series 1 cars simply didn't. However, if you get a good one, they are a great car. My 1995 E200 is just that although I had to get a full respray as the paint started to 'spider' on every panel. A good Series 2 car will be hard to find but can be bought in Japan. Good ones are expensive but not as expensive as buying an average one!
Cars like the E500/500E will rust just like the rest of them even though everyone thinks they were built by Porsche - which they weren't! They were partially assembled by Porsche as MB didn't have the capacity. The 4matic versions didn't rust as badly as other Series 1.5 cars and this is because they were manufactured in Austria by Magna Steyr. They look the same as a 2WD but they couldn't be more different. Coupé and Cabriolet rust is a lot more serious as they need the strength but again the later cars had all the same quality issues.
The difference between my 88 and 95 cars is like chalk and cheese. They are all small differences but a fruitcake like me will notice every little thing. The quality of a grommet, a self tapper instead of a nut and bolt, plastic instead of rubber or something missing completely all adds up.