Euro Pair: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 230E and 1984 200E

These old Mercedes W123 chassis cars are both up for sale by the same dealer in New Hampshire.

They're also both European-specification, meaning they were probably specially imported during the grey market heyday of the '80s.

If you're going to get a W123, these are the ones you want.

Read here to see why the Euro-spec cars, especially Mercedes from the '70s and '80s, are superior to the official versions we got.

With the square single-unit headlights and small chrome bumpers, the W123 cars are transformed into very handsome, still-fresh sedans, and the genealogy between them and their successor, the W124, is much more clear.

The beige car is a 1981 230E with an automatic transmission. It had a 2.3-litre 6-cylinder engine that produced 134 horsepower and was only offered here from '77-'78. In Europe, it was offered until '85, so this must be an actual grey market car.

The listing says the mileage is 193,305. That's high but completely normal for a '81 Benz. This was from the over-engineered era, when the cars were built with an emphasis on ingenious but practical mechanics over electronics. They were workhorses, and this one is probably good for another 100k. The interior looks incredibly good given the age and mileage and also has a rich two-tone color scheme I've never seen before.

The red car is an '84 200E with a 5-speed manual transmission. Again, the 200 was never offered here, but was available in Europe at the time and features a 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder engine that produced between 93 and 108 horsepower. This one only has 77,339 miles. The aftermarket iceberg turn signals work surprisingly well and along with the metal grill badges give it a cold northern-Europe feel. The wheels are later W124 alloys that also work and make the car seem fresh and timeless. I also like it in red a lot.

The seller is asking the same price for both cars: $3,995 and is open to trades. The better car for the money is obviously the red one, with only 77k miles and a stick shift. But maybe both could be had for a special deal. These are good looking, likable cars that can give a new owner affordable, reliable and unique transportation pleasure for years to come.

Find the craigslist ads here and here and the dealer site listings here and here.

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