Short version: A classmate of mine just hit a deer in her 300TE (supposedly purely cosmetic, but I'm waiting on pics). I've been told I can have the car for $900. I have a 5spd Civic right now, and would have to get rid of it to get the wagon. What do, Oppo?
Longer version: I've owned a W124 wagon in the past and loved the thing. It was a project car of sorts with a friend of mine, supposedly needing a new transmission but ultimately needing only electrical stuff to be able to drive reasonably well. It could fit more than my dad's Legacy wagon (a huge plus for me, as a videographer), and had a rear-facing third row (I film cars, so this was good - a lot of HRL videos from early summer featured shots from the back of this car). However, the trans ultimately got worse, reverse was lost, and I traded it for a sad but low-mile E24 that is the current project (it's awaiting paint prep, but roads are too bad to get to it's garage right now). Naturally, I regret getting rid of the Merc. A lot.
(Important pros are bolded. Cons are underlined.)
The Civic is awesome. I love the Civic. It's beige on beige with beige accents, and looks pink in certain lighting, but it's a helluva fun and very peppy ride (especially with intake/header/JDM Integra exhaust). It's an '02, so the forgotten generation of Civic, but it only has 85k on the clock. Rust along the drivers side at various points, and some scrapes from when an RV from Ohio decided it wanted to streamline the side of my car and take out the driver's side mirror and scrape the door/fender. All door locks and poppers are broken. It's also a manual. Because funcar. And it's fine in the snow, but I usually drive one of my parents' Subarus if I need to go anywhere in deep stuff anyway. Cheap to maintain.
The potential W124 is more practical than the Civic, but it's also less dependable. I know from the past that they can be grounded by electrical issues, and that transmissions go in time. I also know people with well over 300k on these cars (it's a W124 - don't we all?). As a RWD car, it would be not so good in the snow, although once again, I don't drive the Civic when it's really bad anyway. It could also carry a lot more gear/be a better film platform, but the Civic also works for that. It's also comfortable and smooth, but it's still an automatic. Mileage unknown, but I'm guessing for sake of argument that it's around 180k. One might suggest that at $900, this wagon is cheap, but to that I would counter that this one is cosmetically damaged and that it still costs $900 more to buy than my last one.
As for car limitations, I can't keep both because I have three cars (the nice E24, the project E24 that my friend and I need to fix before we can sell, and the Civic) and would need it to be a daily if I used it.
What say you, Oppo? Keep the Civic or get the Merc? It would only be for a few months, in any case, as I'll get something sturdier for work/school next fall (thinking Legacy GT, Acura RSX, or E36 M3, or for something larger, a nice E34 or E39).