Barrister Jonathan Roger bought his L-reg Mercedes E 300 Diesel Automatic Estate – the model known as the W124 – two years ago off ebay for £1,076. It already had 230,000 miles on the clock. Wasn’t he bothered by the high mileage? “No, I figured that as it had already gone that far, there must be something good about it. This car felt very special. I knew who’d owned it and it had a full service history.” Originally a Mercedes-Benz fleet car, it was next owned by a newspaper executive for 16 years “who was meticulous about record-keeping”, then passed to his son, and on to a friend. So Jonathan is the fifth owner, and a combination of his daily commute from home in Northumberland to his practice in Newcastle, plus family trips and holidays, has added another 47,000 miles to the tally.
Since buying the car, he has done quite a lot of work to it, changing the brakes, suspension, all the fluids and a long list of other items, from a new aerial to adding extra sound-deadening in the doors. Perhaps most unusually, the car has been given a whole new interior. “It came from a previous W124 we had that my wife crashed, and the cabin was better than this one, so I had it stripped out to go in this car.”
One very beneficial change was replacement of the engine timing chain and vacuum pump. “It has made a great difference, pepped it up and made it more fuel efficient. I’m getting 30 to 35 from a gallon, and I don’t drive particularly economically”. He does his own basic servicing, and changes the oil and filter more often than specified. “They say every 9,000 miles, but I do it every 6,000. I use Castrol GTX. I enjoy doing it and I think it extends the life of the engine to keep the oil fresh.” For bigger services, it goes to the local Mercedes-Benz dealer.
He considers the car a work in progress and has plans for further refurbishment, including new front wings and treatment for some rust. It is, after all, a well-used 21-year-old car. “It has a lovely three-litre, 24-valve diesel engine, not turbo, but naturally aspirated. They just seem to go on forever. There’s a lot more life in this one yet”.