Admittedly there's no manual option, which might blunt the C43's appeal a little, but the automatic transmission does match the Mercedes' muscular V8 well. You won't have to break the bank to get a good C43 AMG either, with prices drifting around the £4000 mark.
Most mid-1990s Mercedes have fallen into disrepair, however. The company's accountants were holding the reins at the time, rather than the engineers, so the quality of many of its products from that era is often questionable. That's not to say that they weren't good cars, just that they became prone to failures that you wouldn't otherwise expect of the brand's formerly robust offerings.
For example, this W202 generation of C-Class featured wiring covered with a poorly specified biodegradable insulation which would prematurely disintegrate in normal use, causing myriad shorts and countless headaches for owners as they tried to trace intermittent electrical faults. Corrosion was a problem, too, with rusty panels being a common sight.
Depreciation also took its unkind toll, as with any other luxury car. Because they became so cheap, owners began taking less care of them. Consequently finding one that's got some semblance of service history, and one that hasn't simply been run into the ground, is no mean feat.
This £3500 1999 example, however, eschews most of the common issues. It's got a sensible-sounding 124,699 miles on the clock, a substantial wedge of service history and - importantly - it's claimed to be in great condition and free from rust in the usual places.
It also benefits from a comprehensive service, including fresh fluids, filters and plugs. The seller additionally notes that it's had a recent water pump, auxiliary belts and a viscous coupling for the cooling fan, so any new owner should consequently have little to worry about. It's well equipped, too, with air-con and heated leather seats, and that large boot will prove ideal for the odd - and very rapid - tip run.
All in, then, this looks like a fast estate that should soldier on for some considerable time with minimal investment. Save a little each month to cover the cost of any unexpected repairs and you should be good to go. A combined economy of 24mpg isn't great, of course, but then it's unlikely you'll be covering vast tracts of ground.
So does this V8-engined Mercedes estate leave you pining for some practical entertainment, or does its automatic gearbox and potential troubles drive you away? Cast your vote in the comments section below.
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