Junkyard Treasure, Gray Market Edition: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 230 CE
Gray-market 1980s Mercedes-Benzes are surprisingly common in wrecking yards, no doubt due in part to the large numbers of American military personnel stationed in Germany during the final years of the Cold War. We have seen 500 SE and 280 SEL examples of these cars already in this series; here’s a 1988 W124 coupe with 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and manual transmission, spotted recently in a Phoenix self-service yard.
American-market W124 coupes were rare. American-market W124s with manual transmissions were extremely rare.
You’ll find the occasional US-market W124 with a manual transmission, if you look hard enough. Coupes were available in the United States, but American E-Class buyers tended to want four doors, big engines, and shifting decisions made for them.
I probably should have bought the decklid emblem, but my collection of weird car badges has become embarrassingly large.
I can’t swear that none of these cars were sold through Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the United States, and I neglected to shoot the build plate while I was photographing it, but I feel confident the original buyer of this car purchased it at a dealership in what was then West Germany. In any case, its days are numbered; in a couple of months at most, this car will have a date with the cold steel jaws of the crusher.