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The desire for the W123 Mercedes-Benz 300TD never really seems to wean. I honestly think a lot of the desire comes from the car looking so good on paper, and then diving in and hoping for the best. Yes, it is tremendously reliable and sturdy in a world of cars built just to outlive the warranty period, but they are not without many sacrifices. They have just enough power not to be a nuisance on the highway, luxury comforts are almost zero, and safety versus any object bigger than it deploys the “hope and pray” strategy rather than airbags. Still, if you are looking for a stylish cruiser that can haul some stuff a day or two a week, it is tough to argue. However, these cars are getting old – very old. The newest example from 1985 is now old enough to run for president and the earliest 1979s models are ready to go to their kid’s college graduations. That doesn’t seem to bother paying truly crazy prices for them however.
Today, we have a non-turbo 1980 up for sale in Florida in the classic shade of English Red. Yes, it sure looks pretty and would look great in a world of earth tone swarming the land, but I’m maybe not so high on this example. Let me explain why.
Just when I thought I’ve seen it all! What we are looking at is a 1977 Mercedes-Benz 300D that somehow was transformed into a strangely proportioned coupe. According to the seller, the body was modified by removing the rear doors, moving fuel tank and fuel door two feet forward, and extended the trunk lid two feet. Try to wrap your head around that. On top of that, this car already exists and Mercedes made of ton of them! Unless this car was modified right in 1977 when it came out, it made no sense why someone would do this. But here it is, in all its mis-proportioned glory. Just to make it even stranger, it is powered by a 1983 OM617 Turbodiesel engine. Let’s take a look:
I recently said goodbye to one of the cars in my fleet, a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 240D, that I maintained and cared for since 2016. It was a charming and very satisfyingly car that I’m glad I got to experience, but a prime example it was not. While it was finished in the lovely shade of Labrador Blue with a navy MB-Tex interior, it did have nearly 300,000 miles on the odometer. That meant various dings on every panel, rust scabs in all the wrong places, some suspiciously different-colored body panels, and a non-working air conditioning system. If all that was working, it would be a car to keep nearly forever and enjoy, but it just required too much effort considering the list. If I could buy a perfect example, sure, but at what cost? It still only had 68 horsepower when new and was right on the limit of being dangerously slow while trying to merge on the highways and climb long hills. Well, today we do have a nearly perfect example. But it comes at a very steep cost, as you might have guessed.
Was last week’s 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 too much of a project for you? Yeah, I don’t blame you either. That was a little too far gone for most pallets. However, today we have a much less intensive project.
This is a 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300TD. The legendary wagon that will never fail unless you let it sit for years and the fuel turns to mush. If you thought that was really specific, then you are right. For as good as this car looks in the photos, it supposedly does not run and hasn’t been started in two years. You might be saying how does that happen, but the Bentley Bentayga in the background probably helps to explains it. Still, this car looks really good and is claimed to have just a little over 46,000 miles. Is it worth the gamble?
What if I told you that Mercedes-Benz made a W123 slower and less powerful than the 240D? Thankfully it was never sold in the US, but the 200D does exist. It came in at 54 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque, which is impressive that the engineers thought this was adequate for the year 1977. My whole thing is that I don’t care if cars are slow, I care if cars are dangerously slow. When you get stuck on hills, that’s not fun. When the car doesn’t have enough power to merge into oncoming traffic, that is a problem for everyone. So a Sunday evening drive out in the country, sure. Any kind of commuting or highway? Not a chance.
This example up for sale Oklahoma City now only checks in with the impressive 54 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque, but also has the steering wheel on the right side. An odd ball to say the least.