As I get older and my head gains an alarming amount of grey hairs, my patience and desire for “projects” is growing thin. I have no problem working on cars, but my time seems to be sucked up by other things that aren’t getting covered in diesel fuel when changing a pre-filter. This is leads me away from saying things like “Oh, this car on Craigslist only needs $2,900 in parts and 10 hours of labor. I can swing that”. Instead, I’m finding myself just clicking the back button and not even considering cars that aren’t nearly turn-key.
Thankfully there are a handful of older cars out there that are still turn-key and need very little. This 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300CD up for sale in Oregon might just be one of those. It certainly looks like a time capsule both inside and out, as well as the most important area, under the hood. I wish this one wasn’t 3,000 miles away.
In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars back in 2016, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.
Like the Quattro, the M1 redefined and refined BMW’s core mission, helping to launch the Motorsport division along with the 3.0 CSL and 2002 Turbo. While Giugiaro had also had his hand in the M1’s design, the genesis of the shape lay in the much earlier Paul Bracq designed Turbo concept. Bracq, in turn, had undoubtedly been influenced by the late 1960s creations of both Giorgetto Giugiaro (at Ghia and ItalDesign) and Marcello Gandini (Bertone), as well as the efforts and splash rival Mercedes-Benz had made in 1969 with the C111 concept and record setter.
But while Daimler was hesitant to enter serial production with such a departure from their tried and true sedan designs, the M1 proved to be just the spark BMW was looking for to ignite the fire in driving enthusiast’s minds. It was, at the time, the Ultimate Driving Machine:
Recently, I’ve been going on and on about how great a car the W116 Mercedes-Benz 300SD is. This came about from my look at the incredible 1980 with 8,200 miles on it for a not-so-inexpensive price of nearly $60,000. Granted, that is the most expensive W116 300SD in the world and it probably isn’t in line with what the car is really worth at all. Thankfully, there are some nice other examples out there – I’m not talking about Craigslist specials that look like they’ve been housing a family of possums for the past 11 years. One such W116 is this 1979 up for sale in Phoenix, Arizona. Painted in the rare Milan Brown, this 300SD has a cool background story of being in the same family since new, but most importantly, has been thoroughly loved throughout the years.
Update 12/23/18: This 300D sold for $14,600.
TheÂ 1977â€“1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 with the naturally-aspirated OM617 5-cylinder doesn’t get enough appreciation in my eyes. Everyone loves the 1982-1985 OM617A, which is the turbocharged version, and rightfully so. Although, if you told me to pick one of the engine solely based on simplicity, I would probably pick the naturally-aspirated version. Yes, it barely has enough power to keep up with modern traffic withÂ 115Â lbâ‹…ft of torque, but no W123 is winning any races in 2018, no matter what the engine. There is a caveat however. In the 1977-1981 W123 with the OM617, you were cursed with the Chrysler automatic climate control system which has the same functionality as a pair of roller skates on a lake. When Mercedes updated the W123 in 1982, they realized their mistake and replaced it with a manual climate control system that,Â surprise surpise, still works flawlessly some 30 years later. You can’t have it all, I guess.
Today, I have an absolutely pristine 1979 300D up for sale inÂ Poughkeepsie, New York with a hair under 53,000 miles. Painted in Topaz Brown over Parchment MB-Tex, this is one of the finest W123s I’ve come across recently and it has the story to back it up. Judging by the already fast and furious bidding, it is not going to go cheap.
Update 2/2/19: Price fluctuations continue on this E21, which is now listed for $23,323.
Update 12/11/18: After a year on the market – no surprise given the $25,000 asking price from January 2018 – this Euro-spec 323i kitted out with BBS attire has moved apparently from Virginia to Texas and been relisted with a new seller. The photos and description haven’t changed (right down to leaving the original “I drove the car to VA” and the original seller ‘Mike’s number) other than the mileage now listed as 119,999 and the price has dropped from $25,000 to
$19,323 today $21,323 for Christmas. It could be a fake listing and the price is still high enough that it probably won’t sell, but 323is come up for sale here so infrequently it was worth another look.
It’s easy to lament the U.S. bound 320i. Powered by a fuel injection M10, it managed to kick out only around 100 horsepower in the early 1980s and felt like a disappointed follow-up to the fantastic 2002tii, which was lighter and sported 130 horses. While the smart-looking Bracq-designed E21 ticked the right 3-boxes and scaled his vision down well, the U.S. bound models got the unfortunate impact bumpers that made them look heavy and unappealing. It was like a cute kid wearing orthodontic headgear; you were pleased to meet them, but couldn’t help but feel bad for the way they ended up looking. Sure, there was a sport version of the 320i towards the end of the run, and it looked better because…well, it had BBS wheels and everything looks better with BBS wheels, but aside from that the U.S. 320i was the relatively forgettable holdover until the E30 redeemed the small sporting sedan range here.
But in Europe?
Update 1/17/19: After failing to sell at $14,999, this oddball limo has been relisted at $9,999.
In terms of German marque limos, it’s safe to say that Mercedes-Benz pretty much has the segment cornered. Andrew has recently covered a crazy supercharged stretched E-Class, a classic if poorly executed W126 S-Class, and of course the market-defining Pullman. Even an unlikely G-Class made the ranks of stretched Benzs.
So it would appear that few are looking for “The Ultimate Driving Machine” for a vomit-inducing ride to the altar, the prom, or some Garth Brooks tour date with six of their closest college buddies. Yet that hasn’t stopped someone from trying. But to me, if the marque was unusual, the model which they chose is even more strange:
I sort of stumbled into this 911, but I’m very glad that I did! I had come to this dealer’s website looking for information on a 911 I’d seen listed on one of the various classifieds. As it turns out I hadn’t even been looking for that 911 either, but rather was on a completely different search. But that’s another story. Anyway, the 911 I was seeking more information on apparently has sold since it no longer is listed. But my eyes immediately were taken in by this one and just look at it!
We can’t really call this a backdate, because it isn’t a backdate though it certainly exists in that restomod/backdate universe of 911s. This is a 1979 Porsche 911SC Targa that’s basically been enhanced in pretty much every way. The exterior mostly remains as any other 911SC would look. It hasn’t been widened and it remains a short-hood. But it was stripped to bare metal, all parts of the body and frame were reconditioned as needed, various areas were stiffened, and a roll bar was integrated and painted to match the exterior. I’m not exactly sure what color this is, but it looks quite good. Really the only exterior cues to really tell you this 911 is a little different are the round fog lamps and the center-exit exhaust. It’s an attractive looking car and I’m sure would attract plenty of notice. But it is the interior and the engine where things really begin to take shape.
Update 11/20/18: This 300D sold for $13,700.
On Saturday, I will say goodbye to my 1983 240D that I’ve rehabbed and cared for the past two years. It was a classic Craigslist love story of everything looking great in the photos, but after traveling a long distance to go buy it, the car wasn’t nearly as cherry as the photos showed or the seller described. Funny how that happens. Still, I reluctantly took it home after negotiating a whopping $100 off the asking price. The past two years have been fun as it seems like everyone loves the thing, except my passengers who had to be on time somewhere as 67 horsepower is no match for moms in their 300 horsepower minivans and the concept of time in general. I wouldn’t have bought the car if it wasn’t for the Labrador Blue paint and matching hubcaps, and that is probably why it sold to its new owner. I think the W123 chassis is still brilliant and feels so damn good even after 35 years, but it just can’t keep up with the war that is daily traffic. My W116 300SD is a far better car for that, hence why I chose to keep that one even though it isn’t nearly as handsome. Not a knock of the W123, but the W116 S-Class was made to be the best sedan in the world and at the time it was pretty damn close to being that, even compared to the much more expensive cars from Bentley and Rolls-Royce. I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Today’s car, as you might have noticed, also has a pretty great color. This European-spec Pea Green 1979 300D shows just a hair under 25,000 miles on the odometer and should be a pretty mint example. I was super excited to dig into it to see a time-capsule car, but unfortunately, this falls just a little bit short. Let me explain why.
Update 10/28/18: This 930 sold for $324,500.
If you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, or were an adult, or well, basically if you were alive and paid any attention to sports you will be well aware of Walter Payton. The long-time running back for the Bears and widely considered one of the best of all time, Payton was magic to watch on the field. He combined quickness with strength, hurdling and stiff-arming opponents out of his path. He also was a prolific receiver and upon his retirement lead the NFL with the most career receptions by a non receiver. While the Super Bowl winning ’85 Bears would go down as having one of the best defenses in NFL history, it was Payton who lead their offense as one of the tops in the NFL. He retired in 1987 as the leader in career rushing yards and all-purpose yards (both of which have since been surpassed) and passed away much too young from a liver disease in 1999.
This is the first sports car he purchased for himself after establishing himself in the NFL: a Silver over Black 1979 Porsche 930 that will be up for auction with no reserve this Saturday at the Mecum Auctions Chicago. This 930 has never left the Payton family as it was passed down to his son Jarrett after Walter’s death. It was one of the few cars Payton did not sell off and is reputed to be one of his favorites. It sits with only 9,950 miles on it. For the 930 collector and serious Bears fan it would be a must have addition to the garage.
I feature famous owner Mercedes-Benz from time to time with the scale of their ”famousness” ranging from Rowan Atkinson, Clark Gable,Â BonoÂ and even Elvis. Personally, I just don’t believe that these names do a lot, or anything, for the values of the cars outside of it being just a cool side note. Maybe with some of the Elvis cars it might move the needle at little, but his star is fading as the years go by and the people who truly remember him are also fading away. Today, I have a car that you could argue is on the A-list when it comes to celebrity cars. This is John Lennon’s 1979 300TD. You might remember him as the co-founder of the The Beatles,Â the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. His fame was tremendous until the day of his murder onÂ December 8, 1980 and judging by how much media attention he and his family still gets just by throwing his name into Google, is still quite relevant.Â You would guess that maybe this car, a car that he owned until his death, is probably going to bring big money, right?