Reader Rides: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Diesel

It’s always great to hear from a reader who appreciates the blog or just sends in a link to a neat car that they spotted. While I don’t always take enough time to acknowledge them, I’ll let you know now that we always are thankful that you’re out there thinking of us! But it’s really special when one of our readership buys a car that we featured, and last fall that exact thing happened with this cool 1984 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Diesel:

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GL Turbo Diesel

I caught up with its new owner, Jesse, who was kind enough to share his story and some images of the car!

Continue reading

Euro Touring: 1994 BMW 525tds

Continuing on the wagon theme, today we’re going to take a look at something in a similar vein – but oh, so very different. This 1994 BMW E34 Touring is in many ways the antithesis of yesterday’s S6 clone; it’s an original European model, it’s very bare bones, and it’s a diesel.

The story behind BMW’s foray into diesel power in the U.S. was pretty interesting. BMW had developed the M21 2.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel in the 1970s with fuel prices rising; it finally launched in the early 1980s with the E28 524td. But you probably best know that motor for its appearance in mid-80s American iron; an attempt by Ford to improve the fuel economy of its large executive Lincoln Continental. The marriage didn’t work; although the M21 was a good motor (especially when compared to GM’s diesel!), gas prices were falling and the economy was recovering by the time it finally came to market. But since BMW went through the effort to get the M21 legal for U.S. shores, they brought the 524td over here, too. It was a slow seller in the E28 lineup; equipped only with an automatic, BMW dealers shifted 3,635 of the diesels.

No surprise, then, that when the E34 launched, the diesel didn’t come back with it. Though the U.S. market didn’t see the M21 in the lineup though it soldiered on. The M21 was replaced in 1991 by a new version, the M51. Now displacing 2.5 liters and with an intercooler in “s” version, the 525tds upped the power from the 114 seen in the 524td to 141 and it had 192 lb.ft of torque at only 2,200 rpms. This motor carried BMW’s diesels through the 1990s, and was available in everything from the 3-series to the 7-series.

So it’s a bit of a treat to see the M51 in North America. It’s more of a treat to see it in a Touring, and in great shape, and hooked up to a manual transmission. Yes, the want is strong in this one!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 525tds on eBay

Continue reading

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GL Turbo Diesel

As we saw with the Dasher Hatchback from last week, just because it’s older and in good shape doesn’t automatically mean it’s worth a lot. If it’s a GTI or a Scirocco, sure – sit back with the popcorn and watch the bids roll in, but that Dasher? It sold for $1,600. Admittedly, it needed at least that amount and probably more in mechanical freshening, but still – you’re looking at a unique classic for well under $5,000 all in.

Today is another such beast, and like the Dasher, it’s a niche car that most will probably pass over for the more exciting metal. But this is one trick little bit of kit as you look a little closer. A1 Jettas are pretty rare to begin with, and this is a claimed rust-free example – always a good place to start. Euro bumpers slim down the look while Corrado Sebrings and a lowered ride height beef it up, but the clean presentation is really highlighted by the rare drivetrain – the CY turbocharged diesel inline-4 mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, good for 68 horsepower and 98 lb.ft of torque. This motor was also briefly available in the first generation Audi 4000. The 10.6 quoted 0-60 time won’t sound particularly exciting, but it was quite a bit quicker than the standard diesel and recorded better fuel economy (Volkswagen claimed it could top 54 mpg!). But the key to this car is the relative obscurity and rarity of the package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GL Turbo Diesel on eBay

Continue reading

1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD Cabriolet

Back in the 1980s when the world was running rampant with small tuning and coach building companies, we were subject to creations like today’s car. This a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD … cabriolet. Yes, someone took a perfectly fine 300CD and chopped the roof off to fully expose you to the wonderful feel and aroma of diesel exhaust. But it was the 1980s and the money was never-ending, so doing things like this made sense at the time. Now that reality has hit us square in the face in 2017 and keeps on punching, we are still left to live with creations like this. Of course with something like this oddity, I have so many questions I can only try my best to explain – poorly.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD Cabriolet on Hemmings

Year: 1982
Model: 300CD Cabriolet
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-5
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 80,235 mi
Price: $80,000

1982 Mercedes-Benz 300TD Cabrio, RARE RARE (One of Five produced) I am 2nd owner / all Books/Records / Boca/Palm Beach (35 year History), Full Navy Leather w/Power top & COLD A/C / 35 mpg / $80k obo/trade. John, 561-818-1900, FL; biondo-palmbeach.com

The condition of the 300CD is actually pretty nice. Looks to be well looked after with no major visible flaws. Sure, it maybe or maybe not has a Nardi steering wheel and maybe that shift knob is a quality piece and not an eBay special. But I’ve seen stuff like this many times over. The white wall tires look odd even with the matching white paint as I’m a firm believer that white walls only belong on the W100 600 and even then I’m iffy on them. I just can’t get over the canvas top and what went into making this happen. A bunch of coachwork houses have done these conversions but none have really stood the test of time or functioned all that well and I’d bet this one is another one of those examples.

In case you haven’t noticed, the seller is asking $80,000 for this creation. Doing this quick math here, if this car was just the standard 300CD with 80,000 miles on it, I would probably value it around $7,500. Now we subtract $7,500 from the $80,000 asking price which gives us an increased value of $72,500 — for cutting the roof off and adding a canvas top. You can see how this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. Checking out this sellers website you can see he also has a taste for other fine automobiles such as the Cadillac Allante, Chrysler LeBaron Convertible and of course the legendary Chrysler TC by Maserati. This hacked up W123 must feel right at home with all those other convertibles with poorly fitting canvas tops. I understand this asking price, the seller sees terms like “rare Mercedes”, “one of (whatever)” and “cabriolet” then a bunch of crazy things happen in his brain and out pops the number $80,000. I actually feel kind of bad for the guy in a way because he clearly has no idea what he is doing. Then again, he is living out his golden years in Florida with a picture of him and Jay Leno from 1999 on his website so things probably aren’t all that bad. I just hope the rest of his retirement isn’t tied up in this car.

– Andrew

1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD

Another week, another crazy low mileage Mercedes-Benz. Today’s example is a 1982 300CD in Light Ivory with the wonderful Sienna MB-Tex interior. This C123 for sale in New Jersey checks in with a little over 18,000 miles and while the seller explains this is basically a showroom car, but a lot of times I don’t always agree with those claims. This car is an example why.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD on eBay

Year: 1982
Model: 300CD
Engine: 3.0 liter 5-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 18,488 mi
Price: Reserve Auction

What is presented before you is the grail of all Turbo-Diesels – a 100% all original, 18,000 mile, two owner , Concourse level Mercedes-Benz 300CD !!! This is an unbelievable, unmolested, pristine, like NEW in the wrapper and very rare W123 Coupe !!!
This car is essentially priceless. This is not to say that the car is worth millions of dollars (nor that it will never achieve such a figure in time). I say priceless because there is no way to put a dollar value on a vehicle as rare as this. There is no other comparison that I know of; it is undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind.
A little history of the car from second owner:
The following information was passed on from the daughter of the original owner to the current collector: For propensities sake, before his passing in his 90s, the original owner had instructed his daughter to sell the car only to a collector. He said “the car is much too valuable to go to anyone else”. After her father’s passing, his daughter enlisted the help of a friend who is a licensed dealer in the state of North Carolina and deals only in high-end European cars. The car was sold to the current collector who has driven the automobile less than 80 miles while in his stewardship.
The original owner was a Mercedes-Benz enthusiast. In his middle-aged 50s he went to his local Mercedes-Benz dealership and placed an order to have this fine Mercedes-Benz built and shipped back to the states to his humble little town in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He purchased the car not as a daily driver, but as a pure pleasure vehicle. He was absolutely in love with the Turbo-Diesels and also had a Mercedes-Benz 300TD for his daily driver.
It was said that he would take this car for long drives in the foothills and through the mountains on the North Carolina Blue Ridge Parkway. These were some of his favorite weekend countryside drives. (Original period correct maps included.) While prepping this car for auction I found myself chuckling and picturing the old man with the windows down, cruising in the crisp cool air through the foothills of North Carolina; what a pleasure it must have been.
He, like most Mercedes-Benz owners, was in love with his car. He took the upmost care and precautions to preserve the integrity and fine workmanship of the automobile. When not in use, the vehicle was stored in his garage with cover. His daughter conveyed that he was so meticulous about the vehicle that when he took it out he would put a red matching towel on the rear of the dash as to not risk any type of sun fading since it was a “hotspot”. (Original red towel included). I always find that Mercedes-Benz owners are some of the fussiest owners of their automobiles any one person can come across.

Now to describe the condition of the car:
The exterior finish is show quality and is beautifully complimented by bright and clear show quality chrome trim!!!

The anodized aluminum trims around the vehicles glass is in excellent condition!!!

All glass is crystal clear and free of nicks or chips, with the exception of one teeny tiny minuscule chip under the passenger windshield wiper; other than that all of the glass on the car is flawless!!!
The interior is the nicest I have ever seen with zero sun fade!!! Seats, carpeting, the entire interior is impeccable and as close to flawless as you can get, literally factory fresh and new!!!

Zebrano wood inlays have a mirror-like shine and a deep beautiful clear luster; excellent condition!!!

All power options functioning 100%, Becker Radio sounds beautiful and the A/C is ice cold!!!

Engine bay is factory fresh and THE nicest I have ever seen in its class!!!

The under carriage is in exceptionally preserved, like new condition. The Cosmoline looks as if it were applied yesterday, and the under carriage paint and factory coatings are the absolute best I have ever seen!!! This is without a doubt the best under carriage I have every laid eyes on in the vehicle’s class!!! It well represents fair weather usage and in my expert opinion, no rain weather operation!!!

The vehicle still wears (very rare) its original matching factory issued Continental tires including spare which has never been down!!! The tools are still sealed in the wrapper!!!

The vehicle has been completely serviced, all fluids are fresh and a new battery has been installed…

This vehicle is at 100% optimum running order and needs nothing mechanically or cosmetically!!!

In short: ultimately the vehicle looks like it did back in 1982 the day it rolled off the factory line!!!!

This is one of the most well documented Turbo-Diesels on the planet. Everything is complete including hand written dealer service receipts (that’s the way they did it back then). If you demand PERFECTION, this car is as close to perfect as you will ever get!!!

All Books, manuals, dealer brochures, first aid kit and service records are in order.

Please scroll through over 150 high resolution photos below:
Located in Central NJ, 07753

Just to get this out of the way, this is a really nice 300CD. The interior is the selling point of this car and it delivers many times over. Sienna is one of the least common interior options on the W123 and it’s great to see an example that’s been preserved as well as this one has. The Zebrano wood is what dreams are made of in terms of condition and I still can’t get over how well it shines.

But, there are a few odds things about this car. Under the hood, the hose that leads from the coolant overflow tank and vents onto the ground is routed on top of the air box then routes into the hole for the coil spring. This isn’t a big deal as this car probably isn’t overflowing and dumping coolant from that hose but ideally it needs to be routed in its factory location and not on top of the rattling air box that will soon wear it away quickly. Second, the bottom of the spare tire well looks like it was damaged and repaired rather hastily with some sort of black goo. (I attached the photo of this.) Again, not a huge deal but just a little odd. Third and most importantly, it looks like this car still is riding on the original tires from 1983. I don’t need to explain to anyone why this is a very bad idea seeing as it could turn a very nice 300CD into a 300CD that needs body work and paint.

Listings for cars like these make me shake my head when I see them. If you go out on a limb and say “This is an unbelievable, unmolested, pristine, like NEW in the wrapper and very rare W123 Coupe !!!” and then double down with three exclamation points, the car better be that. Unfortunately, in 1983 Mercedes didn’t sell cars with dry rotted tires and strange repairs to the underside of their cars. I have no problem with sellers who say “This is a really nice example and here are things you should be aware of: … ” but to go off the deep end and proclaim this is the best car ever just doesn’t work for me. I literally feature cars just like this almost every week and many more that I pass on because they just aren’t that interesting sometimes.

So where will this one end up? I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one pass $20,000 or more. We are full into spring and summer is just around the corner so the market for a car like this is pretty warm. C123s always pull a premium over sedans and this one shouldn’t be any different. Let’s just hope the buyer leaves money in their budget for a new set of tires.

– Andrew

1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

Earlier this week I looked at a W124 diesel wagon and explained it’s probably as close are you are going to get to a true successor of the legendary W123 estate. Well today we have one of those W123 wagons that truly show how great these vehicles can really be and why they still command the prices they do. This 1983 300TD in Deep Blue with Palomino MB-Tex for sale in California sports only 71,000 miles and is nearly perfect in every way. But bring your check book, because this wagon will cost you dearly.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD on Benz World

Year: 1983
Model: 300TD
Engine: 3.0 liter 5-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 71,000 mi
Price: $32,000 Buy It Now

1983 Mercedes Benz 300TD turbo diesel station wagon. Code 900 deep blue with palomino MB-Tex interior. 71,200 original miles. Documented one owner California car with service history. The original owner, Mr. Solomon Levy, was a successful nuclear engineer in San Jose, who purchased the car for his wife. This vehicle has always been garaged and highly maintained. This is a numbers-matching, highly-original survivor, presented in a phenomenal color combination. Equipped with the optional rear facing third seat and roof rack cross bars. Much of the original cadmium plating and cosmoline (shipping wax) is still present in the engine bay and undercarriage. A lot of the factory paint markings are still visible on bolt heads. Every system on this car is fully operational; every button does what it should. The engine starts perfectly when cold, transmission is silky smooth, and steering is tight and straight. This is the best turbo diesel W123 wagon currently available for sale in the United States. It would be an excellent addition to a collection. Located Santa Maria, CA. I have gone through this car with a fine tooth comb to make sure it is mechanically sound and cosmetically beautiful. Andrew 805-720-5057

full album with 130 images.

Finalpics by Andrew Villasenor | Photobucket

Taking a really close look at this 300TD, this is probably as close to a showroom car as you are going to get outside of doing a full restoration. Everything is perfect aside for some underside parts that show some normal wear. I think I’m more impressed with the paint on the body and the wheels as it is outstanding for being in sunny California. Bundt wheels are notoriously hard to keep clean and these look like they are brand new which is astonishing for having over 71,000 miles on them. This wagon also has the third row seating option which, in 2017, is far more interesting to look at rather than travel with six or more people.

Now the price tag for the perfect 300TD. Are you ready? It’s $32,000. Yes, I know that is extremely high and you can probably find decent examples for a fourth of this price, but this is what you pay if you want the best. People are more than willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for the golden-era Mercedes cars and I don’t think one will be any different. It’s not going to sell tomorrow or next week, but someone with money to burn and strong nostalgia of the 1980s will find this car and have no problem spending over $30,000 on it. This is easily the nicest 300TD I’ve seen come up for sale recently, so if you’ve been waiting for the perfect wagon, this is probably it.

– Andrew

1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi

Recently, I’ve been spending some time driving an Audi C6 A6 3.2 Avant. While I have a report coming on that car soon, I mention it for one reason – what happened the other day when I was filling it up. The gas light pinged on and I pulled into the station; pop the fuel door, card in, nozzle removed, then I tend to pass my time judging other people’s car choices as they fill up too. As I filled, I made my way all the way around the quite full station and had summed up the rather unhappy lives of most of the vanilla SUV drivers in my head. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was still pumping gas. Filling the Passat generally limits my prejudice party as I run out of room at 12 gallons. The 530xi allows me to make judgements on more Kia drivers, as I’ve hit 16 and change. But I had strode past 16 with ease and the numbers were still going. Concerned, I stopped and began to look for the gas pouring out of the bottom of the car, much to the bemusement of my captive audience. Unable to locate the leak, in wonder I re-engaged the trigger and watched the number on the dial climb past 18 gallons. Now, the A6 gets pretty reasonable mileage for a big, heavy car – around 23 average, over 25-26 on the highway. And all told, if you ran it dry you’d be 21.1 gallons in the whole. That makes a real-world range of over 500 miles per a tank. Sound like a lot? It’s the type of number the B4 Passat TDi laughs at.

Especially in Variant wagon form, the B4 TDi Passats have become legendary. Equipped with the 1Z motor, they’re capable of a simply bladder-busting range. While the estimates of mileage on the car range from 30-41 mpg from the factory, real world results from some owners turn up with numbers closer to Prius-embarrassing 45 miles per a gallon. Now, if the Passat had a fuel tank the size of the A6, that would equate to a pretty large range. But they didn’t have a tank the size of the Audi – it was bigger. Much bigger. In the Variant, many owners claim 26 gallons fills their tank while some markets even had the option for a 33 gallon sump. The result is a pretty dependable 1,000 mile range and, driven very carefully, some VW TDi-faithful have gotten closer to 1,500 miles. Shocking. That means it’s pretty typical to see these TDis with multi-hundred thousand miles accrued, but that’s not the case here according to the odometer. No, this sedan – while it admittedly has a smaller tank than the wagon – has apparently traveled less than 40,000 miles. Here’s the really staggering part; at 20 years old, even going with the “conservative” 1,000 mile range, this car has only visited a gas station on average twice a year since new.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi on eBay

Continue reading

1986 Audi Coupe GT Turbo Diesel

The flexibility of Audi’s B2 platform and the huge number of engine choices that manage to fit under the hood make it a natural choice for swaps. Most popular are the all-wheel drive quattros, but the Coupe GT models are also well built, hugely capable cars that react pretty well to increases in power. And just about every period Volkswagen/Audi motor has made it under the hood of the Coupe GT; from 10 to 32 valves, rev-happy DOHC 16Vs and turbocharged inline-5s to narrow-angle VR6s and even the 4.2 V8s. But this car caught my attention because of the very unusual choice of mill to squeeze juice from. This no-spark Coupe GT has a tuned and turned up 2.0 inline-5 turbo diesel:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi Coupe GT Turbo Diesel on Vancouver Craigslist

Continue reading

1987 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

If there was ever a car that looked more at home on the forecourt of a country club, it was the W124 series Mercedes E-class estate. This was a car synonymous with the well-heeled housewives or those summer jaunts to New England beaches. While utilitarian, this is a rather stately machine. Take it to the local market and you would have no problem finding this 300TD amongst the myriad of vanilla, look-alike SUVs jamming the parking lot. This 300TD for sale in British Columbia is a Canadian market car, but given its age of over 25 years, is legal for US importation.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300TD on eBay

Continue reading

1983 Audi 5000 Turbo Diesel

The word “rare” gets tossed around an awful lot, and if I’m frank we misuse it often. We talk about rare color combinations, rare drivetrain configurations, or rare specifications. But how about an entire model line that’s rare these days? Now, that’s worthy of taking a second look, and while all early Audis fall into that category, the Type 43 large chassis cars are truly not often seen anymore. There are a few reasons that; Audi’s focus in 1984/5 shifted towards the more popular all-wheel drive models as they looked to go upscale in the market with the new Type 44 chassis. Additionally, many of the early Audis that were sold in the U.S. were sold in areas that left their rust-prone metal fatigued. And the Type 44 chassis was so thoroughly modern, it instantaneously rendered the still fairly new Type 43 a dinosaur of design. If “Video Killed the Radio Star” in 1978, aerodynamics, modern design and quattro killed the first 5000 in 1984. Looking back, though, the 5000 was a lovely design; sure, it was boxy and the U.S. didn’t really get the top-spec European 200 5T model. But by 1983 there were 3 different options to choose from; the base model was the 5000 S, available with the 2.1 inline-5 found also in the 4000 5+5 and the Coupe GT. At 100 horsepower, it wasn’t much of a match for the weight of the Type 43 chassis, but it was available with a 5-speed manual. Step up to the 5000 Turbo, and you got a healthy bump to 130 horsepower but could only select the dim-witted but reliable 3-speed automatic. But the sleeper of the trio, and the one that was seldom selected, was the 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-5 diesel option:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi 5000 Turbo Diesel on Craigslist

Continue reading