Junkyard Find: 2000 Mercedes-Benz C230

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
During my junkyard travels, I see plenty of high– zoot European luxury sedans, as once the owner of one of these complex masterpieces of technology stops getting every problem fixed, they depreciate down to hooptie-Sentra price levels in a hurry.Today’s Junkyard Find is a fairly clean 21st-century C-Class with some rough edges, discarded because it’s not worth spending $2,500 for some minor mechanical repair on a car that’s worth $1,800.
These “Kompressor” supercharged engines aren’t all that easy to find in wrecking yards, so I didn’t include this blower type in my guide to junkyard superchargers last year. If you want a cheap blower that’s easy to replace when it ingests a peck of road gravel, the GM 3800’s Eaton, the Mazda Millenia’s IHI-built Lysholm, and the Toyota Previa’s Aisin units are much easier to obtain. This engine was rated at 185 horsepower, which was decent for a 3,250-pound car in 2000 (the current C-Class weighs 500-1,000 pounds more).
This car was such a recent yard arrival that it hadn’t been put up on stands yet, which is why this nice interior is still there. Mercedes-Benz seats like this get grabbed right away.
These hood ornaments get pocketed within days of arriving in a wrecking yard, too. There’s probably some guy in Denver with 500 of these in his garage.
The paint is good, indicating that the car spent most of its life garaged, but tape residue indicates that its final owner performed some Field Expedient Repairs on a single-digit-dollars sort of a budget. You can get away with that sort of thing on, say, a Chevy Malibu, but not on a modern Mercedes-Benz.
This car listed new at $31,750, or about $47,400 in 2018 dollars; it was the final year of the W202 C-Class, so perhaps prices dropped as buyers awaited the ’01 W203. A new Daewoo Leganza was just $14,399 that year… and is worth about the same as a 2000 C-Class today.
Let’s imagine this car in happier times, with Mika Häkkingen at the wheel.
The W202 wasn’t designed to compete with other cars. It was designed to replace them.
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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • E30gator E30gator on Sep 17, 2018

    Maybe i'm crazy, but I can see value in SOME old German stuff for CERTAIN buyers. Personally, I'd rather drive on old Benz or bimmer than a ragged out Sentra for the same money. My logic... Provided it's a bread and butter model like a basic C class or 3 Series, and not a complex, high-end S or 7 series, you can get yourself a pretty reliable car for dirt. Also, everything that made them more appealing to drive than a sentra when new still holds true today: better driving dynamics, safety, comfort, etc. As long as you can find one that's been maintained and in decent shape and can stomach doing minor repairs yourself, why not? I'd rather buy a good-running e46 for $2500, keep it on the road doing the bare minimum with cheap parts, then sell it for a few hundred bucks or junk it in 2-3 years when something expensive finally breaks. At least I'd have gotten to enjoy driving a BMW than living with a penalty box. If you do your homework and aren't afraid to get dirty once in awhile, they can be good buys. Case in point: I bought a nice Volvo 850 years ago with only 68k miles off the original owner for $3k. I drove it for 50k miles, fixing surprisingly few things in that time, and sold it for $2k 3 years later. I'm working on doing the same thing with my BMW Z3, bought for $3k. 3 years of ownership and less than $1k in repairs. And it's waaaay more fun than an Altima on my weekend errands. Of course, I have a newish Highlander sitting by just in case, but still...

    • See 1 previous
    • E30gator E30gator on Sep 18, 2018

      @gtem I'd pull the trigger if I could get one cheap enough. Especially with the 5-speed. Nice. Most haters are probably the tinfoil hat types who've never owned an old German car. Frankly, I've never found them to be much of a problem to work on or get affordable parts for if you get a popular model, know where to look for parts, and manage expectations. Of course, I have never been faced with owning one when a transmission or an ECU failed, but if I did I'd just cut and run, as you say. Isn't that exactly what anyone would do with a ragged out Sentra? YOLO!

  • Skor Skor on Sep 18, 2018

    Murilee is correct, junk yards are full of Euro luxury cars with straight bodies. The is because these cars cost so much to repair when out of warranty, they even cost a lot for a DIYer, if DIY is even possible, which in many cases it is not. I believe it's by design. By getting these cars off the road before they can become ghetto hoopties, it prevents the brand image from being soiled, which is what happened to Cadillac and Lincoln back in the day.

    • HotPotato HotPotato on Oct 27, 2018

      From what I've seen, in Europe the old luxury cars go to Spain. Or Espain, if you will. "I drive a Mercedes E class," says the stylish middle-aged lady with the voice cigarette-dragged down an octave lower than her husband's. It's as old as her son, who's making good use of his Spanish engineering degree as a waiter in France, but it's a Mercedes. Maybe sonny will inherit it one day, if he doesn't inherit Grandpa's emerald-green Audi A6 2.7 first. The really old luxury cars go to the former Soviet republics. I think a road tour of Vintage Mercedes-Benzistan would be an awesome documentary.

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