Is this a steal with low-ish mileage, the V8 engine, and some recent service…or is it a maintenance time bomb? For $3K it’s hard to imagine a better, safer, classier, beater truck.
I love these late W163 generation MLs. They are incredibly undervalued rigs. Check out this 325k mile (and still going strong) example that recently sold for the same money on Benzworld:
For basically chump change, you get a rugged body-on-frame beast with one of the best powertrains ever offered in a modern Mercedes, either the M112 V6 or the M113 V8, paired with the excellent 722.6 5-speed automatic.
These did have some teething issues in the first few years of production (mainly due to bringing the US assembly plant up to speed), but by most accounts they are super solid by the post-facelift years – i.e. 2002-2005 models.
That makes this one, from 2001, a teensy gamble. Fortunately, you seem to be in close proximity of the world’s greatest mechanics, Herbert Richter of German Motor Car Service in Santa Monica. Have him give this one a once-over before you make an offer, and if he pronounces it good then you should be golden.
The one counterpoint, though, is that you could likely find one of the nicest ones on the planet for not a whole lot more than this. Every few weeks, I see excellent examples from the best years (2002-2005) with around 50k miles listed for around $8000, which means they probably are selling in the $6500-7500 range. It might be worth a few grand extra just to pick up a truly great example.