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Wagon Week: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

The W123 T-Modell. We would be remiss for not including at least one of these workhorses during Wagon Week. An impossibly timeless design penned by Bruno Sacco in the mid 1970s, these wagons are still seen regularly on the roads from The Hamptons to Los Angeles, a testament to their impeccable engineering. This particular 300TD for sale in Utah is a Euro market car with a 4-speed manual transmission, a rarity on these shores.

Year: 1979
Model: 300TD Estate
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-5 diesel
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 176,000 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300TD on eBay

This Wagon is amazing. It was brought over from Europe by an astro-physicist, garaged for several years, and then I happened upon on it. What makes this 300TD so exceptional is that it has the four speed manual transmission that was only sold in Europe. It is extremely hard to find this model wagon in the States, let alone one in such good overall condition. I have over $10,000 put into this car, and it is set to run for the next several decades. The original miles are low for the year as it is, but taken into the account all that has been done to it, this car can be driven another 500K miles, as these MB diesel engines tend to do. The entire engine has been upgraded with all new bearings, gaskets, pistons, connector rods, clutch system, pumps, seals, hoses, belts and more. Furthermore, the head and block have been completely tuned up. This engine has 500K miles left in it easy. Cosmetic issues include a few normal scrapes and scratches, two small holes in the interior, three scratches in the drivers side window tint, and some small run’s and stains in front carpets and the trunk. Overall, the exterior would get an 8.5/10 grade, the interior a 8.5/10 and the engine/mechanics an 10/10. The car also comes with an extra set of tires and the matching blue hubcaps.

I have to admit I’m always drawn in by vintage Mercedes in light metallic blue hues. These colors suit these cars quite well, highlighting the prudent use of chrome accents. We’ve seen good examples of 300TDs of late hovering around the $10,000 to $14,000 mark. Considering the maintenance done and the mileage, I’d suspect this one might bring shy of $10,000 to the right buyer who is looking for a three pedal variant. This is a neat Benz with an interesting story that would be an utterly practical and economical choice for the times.



  1. Larry
    Larry October 29, 2013

    I have to agree – the W123 300TD estate has a stately and classically attractive design. Even in as unappealing a color as beige, they look good. Painfully slow, so onlookers have plenty of time to see how beautiful they are.

    While the euro manual transmission example presented has a lot of appeal, the seller’s add does not. Apparently, the bidders agree – it’s still sitting at $3250 with less than 1 day to go. It’s safe to assume this one won’t meet the seller’s likely $10K+ reserve.

    Yes, 176K miles is a lot of miles (assuming the odo wasn’t swapped when it was federalized). But the seller claims in no fewer than 3 places that it will go for another 500K miles (and apparently, “the next several decades”). If he’s so confident, maybe he should warranty that for the buyer. And “the A/C needs to be converted to R134a, but this is a simple process.” If it’s that simple, why didn’t he do that already? Maybe because it’s not a simple (or inexpensive) process at all. And what exactly does “the head and block have been completely tuned up” mean?

  2. Kai
    Kai October 30, 2013

    Dear Paul,
    dear Larry,
    dear All,
    just do make clear some details (which I think have been lost in the description):
    This is a 300 TD (T means “Touristik” or “Transport” = waggon) not a “TDT” (Turbo Diesel Transport). So this is the Turbo engine without the complex turbo charger. And this is good regarding the engine durability. As I explained in the other waggon once: This is can drive a lot longer without any issues. The turbo needs a lot more attention…leaks easily and ruins the engine. And due to the turbo the heat during the combustion/ignition-process is a lot higher with these turbos (as everybody knows). On the other hand the turbo is much stronger. By the way: Also in Europe the TDT was ONLY delivered with auto transmission. (The 4 gear manual is the proof for being NOT a turbo diesel.)
    Oh, and something besides the tech-details: The (light) blue MBs very often (mostly?) had the blue dash board, which did not like the sun over the decades and easily brake…just to mention the carpet on the dash board in the pictures 😉 I am not sure what color the dash board of this car has…it looks blue to me.

    So the plus of this car (besides the Euro-bumpers) are the durable engine (the 240D would even more durable but a lot noisier and a bit weaker! The 300 engine has 5 instead of 4 cylinders) and the simpler AC! The automatic-AC (as mentioned in the former TDT ad) is very nice if it works but so complicated to find the issue and repair when it failes.

    So overall it could be a rare and very reliable car 🙂 – the mentioned 500k miles are quite realistic and the 176k mileage is not that much for a non-turbo…

  3. Jason
    Jason December 30, 2013

    Beautiful looking car. I’ve seen plenty of Mercedes-Benz 300TD wagons, but I have *never* seen one with a manual shifting transmission. It’s too bad they were never sold with manual transmission.

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