Ah, the W124. Probably one of the all-around greatest cars of all time. And what a sight for sores eyes in this post-Bruno Sacco Benz-era lacking cohesive forms and themes! The W124 is of those rare cars that was better than both the model it replaced (W123) and was succeeded by (W210). And in the true Germanic spirit of frugality and efficiency, nothing is better than a diesel W124. Or is there?
Although the W123 turbo-diesels are the stuff of legend, the W124 diesels are slightly less so. For one, they appeared at a time when gas prices were coming down, and thrift was less trendy. Second, Mercedes fumbled with their introduction on the W124, at first offering a 6-cylinder turbo for just one year, before settling on the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder turbo, then lastly a non-turbo 6-cylinder, none of which seemed to hit the sweet spot for consumers, and very few of which (if any) were mated to stick shifts for extra sport and economy. By the 90s, diesels were the last thing on the minds of American drivers.
This late-model W124 (with an October '95 build date) does not have a turbo or a stick, but it does have the ample extra space the wagon body lends, which is a huge plus combined with a diesel engine. The W123 diesel wagons are now "cult" cars for their old-school style and extreme durability and functionality. But when it came time to replace it, Mercedes-Benz, tragically and puzzlingly, only offered the W124 diesel wagon for just one year, 1987. The W124 was a better car, but Mercedes sealed the fate of their legendary diesel wagons with that model. It was over (for North America, at least).
To make up for the loss of any diesel W124 wagon after 1987, some owner of this vehicle has transplanted a 1995-only non-turbo OM606 6-cylinder engine from the E300 sedan into a 1995 wagon body. Since 1995 was the final year of the entire W124 body, all the kinks were worked out, and some nice cosmetic touches were added like flush Euro-headlights. The seller, unfortunately, provides no details on how or when the swap was done.
Sure, the 6-cylinder is not "fast" and won't win any drag races, but that's not the point, especially in a wagon body. The car is transformed into a purer utilitarian hauler. Seating for seven adults. 35 miles per gallon. A relatively simple and extremely durable engine designed to last long.
The seller says this unique example has no rust and was never in any accidents. Mechanically, they say it runs and drives "perfect", with new glow plugs, belts, tensioner, and fan clutch. They list the odometer as reading 171k miles.
I would look into the exact nature of the engine transplant. Then I'd get any an all maintenance records. And after that...enjoy the envious stares and quizzical looks among aficionados. This is one rare but super sensible car.
Available here on ebay in Orange County, California with bidding starting at a whopping $14,500.