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My daughter has about $5000 and wants to buy a Mercedes-Benz 230E. Can you outline some weak points such as timing-chain wear, good and bad model runs and rust sites to look for, and perhaps recommend a reputable service/survey agent for appraisal purposes?

The Mercedes-Benz W123 series was released in the 1970s so there are lots of cars out there with high mileages on their odometers. Obviously the older they get and the further they have travelled, the more likely you are to strike trouble. The 230E is the pick of the bunch, but go for a late example, from 1986, which is the best equipped. It will handle unleaded fuel without a problem and will have fewer kilometres on the clock. Another car to think about is the Volvo 240/244 series. I know that might seem a boring choice, but it is solid and reliable. Mechanically they are sound and parts are available at reasonable prices. For more information check Jon Johnson at Voldat Automotive, ph: 9553 1091.

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