Saddled down with the aftermath of wisdom tooth surgery, I decided it felt like a good day to do a Used Car Face-Off.

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Peugeot, Mercedes, and Volvo. Three European marques renowned for durability, quality, and reliability.

But wait, I hear you say, what about the 1007? The W203? The 440? Those were awful cars that can hardly be considered durable, reliable, or even respectable!

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Ahh, but before those failures there were the three big estates that respectively defined the brand equity of these three European brands: the 505, the W123, and the 200 Series. Today, we take a look at these venerable haulers over the course of their two-decade lifespan and decide once and for all, which one deserves the reputation it made for itself. Sure, none have the pizzazz of their individual successors, the 405 Mi16, the 740 Turbo, and the 500E, but sometimes there’s something to be said for rugged steadfastness and longevity.

The first contestant: 1991 Peugeot 505 - $6,700


Well, first off we have this Tardis of a Pug estate. It apparently hasn’t received the memo that it’s currently 2017 and wears 63K miles on its 2.2 petrol linked to what is likely the 4-speed ZF 4HP22 automatic. Barely any rust (if at all), seven pristine cloth seats, and period-correct steelies keep this giant lion looking just like the day it rolled off the line at Sochaux. Sure, the Douvrin is a bit lethargic in comparison to the turbocharged Simca plants, but I’d be more than willing to take this big Frenchie on a cross-country adventure tomorrow!


The second contestant: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300TD - $6,995


If that Pug seemed to be a time-travelling wonder, then this Merc must be an immortal legend. At 288K miles on its OM diesel, this automatic Benz has somehow meandered the distance from the Earth to the Moon albeit very, very slowly. It looks no worse for the wear, however, and seems perfectly content to come all the way back at the same pace, gliding along with that elegant star at the front of its prow. Is it just too slow, even compared to the naturally aspirated PSA car, or do you appreciate its image and heritage?


The third contestant: 1991 Volvo 240 - $6,495


Settling in right between the Gallic and the Teuton is this Viking with 168K miles to its name. B23 Redblocks are never fast, but at least this one has a factory five-speed to help build momentum. The leather is just as plush as that seen in the Benz, but this socialist brick certainly doesn’t have the cachet of the Merc nor the esotericness of the Pug. Does it strike the right balance, though, between the stateliness of the German and the angular quality of the French?