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Wagon Wednesday: Mercedes 300TD with extra Euro flavor

Kamil Kaluski December 21, 2011 Wagon Wednesday 30 Comments

With each passing day it gets harder and harder to find a clean W123. Claimed by some to be the best cars ever made, many of these venerable workhorses have simply been used for daily duty over their thirty year lives. Very few are therefore rebuilt, most are just worn-out, rusted out, or smelling of dirty hippies and French fries.

None of that is true for this very clean Euro-spec 300TD, currently on Craigslist near Washington D.C. Other than being mint-ish, it also happens to be a European gray market import and therefore has all the über-rare Euro bits, including a manual transmission which should outlast the automatic by millenniums, that dorky enthusiasts (myself included) tent to drool over. I never understood why to Euro makers did not equip their cars with rear headrests, emergency triangles, etc, for the U.S. market, but this Benz has ‘em all.

The seller claims that the diff and fuel injection pump are for “high output”, whatever that means, but it’s the combination of cloth seats and crank windows that makes me want it. Oddly enough, that is exactly opposite of what every eastern European drivers wanted at the time when this car was new. Outside, small Euro-spec bumpers, rear fog-light, and proper Euro headlights complete the Euro look which have forum people drooling on the keyboards.

Unfortunately, there is just one problem with this car, and that is its price. The seller is asking nearly ten grand for it and that’s just a lot. This price range gives you a choice of many modern, if not less cooler, Euro wagons from Audi, BMW, Volvo, and VW. Even if you want to stick with the MB brand, a nice W211 can be had for that price (and a prayer). Want reliability? There is Subaru. Want quirkiness? There is, gulp, Saab. Now if it was six grand we could potentially have ourselves the official wagon of the Hooniverse.

  • Syrax

    For that money you can go to the other end of spectrum of reliability and get a W8 wagon.

  • What is under the driver's seat? A Christmas present? A fire extinguisher? A purse with $4k in $20s? I must know!

    • Syrax

      Probably just a purse with $4k worth of fire extinguishers as a Christmas present. Standard equipment.

      • If that is standard equipment, I don't want sub-standard.

    • Scandinavian Flick

      Emergency bacon.

  • joshuman

    "Dude, you can totally brew your own biodiesel in your garage. (Random acquaintance with chemistry skills) knows how. You should buy it." (Sips Pabst and twirls mustache.)

    The hipsters inflate the price of cheap 10-speeds and MB wagons alike.

    • pj134

      They ride one speeds though.

      • topdeadcentre

        Vintage Schwinn steel-frame bicycles weren't made with "fixies", so they must be converted.

        • pj134

          True, and then you're stuck with the hipster paradox of "Needing to do work to continue being a hipster" and "Not able to work because you are a hipster".

  • Scandinavian Flick

    How does something with over a quarter million miles on it stay that clean and intact? I seriously want to know. Impressive.

    Edit: Oh, wait… that's kilometers. This thing really is Euro as f**k. Still, that's 160K miles, which, while barely broken in, is a lot of ass miles on those seats.

    • Haha, yea, despite what the ad says the seat springs and padding do look a bit… worn.

      • Alcology

        and full of farts. Carpet cleaner to the rescue

      • floatingboy

        the car is 26 years old. yes, they're somewhat worn. but for their age, they're actually quite good.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    This price… Did someone lose their job?

    <img src="http://i.lv3.hbo.com/assets/images/series/the-wire/character/the-port/frank-sobotka-160.jpg&quot; width="200">

    Normally-aspirated 3L diesel. Yeah, it'll run forever, but you'll get run over by a bro-truck trying to get on the freeway.

    Plus, the blue interior. No. Just, no. The self-leveling rear suspension is great…until it fails…and it will.

    FWIW, I have one of those Becker radios in my garage, was in the W126 when new. Meh. Have a vacuum headlight switch pod, too. Still haven't gotten around to putting it in my W124.

    Sure, it has all the Euro goodies, but all that can be had, eventually, elsewhere.

    • floatingboy

      Yes, the SLS will fail. And then you fix it. Easily. Also, have you ever driven one of these cars? No, they're not meant to be fast, but one that is running properly will get you on the freeway just fine. Bro-trucks be damned.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        In fact, I have. My wife, when I met her, had an '81 W123…240D.

        Could. Not. Kill. It.

        However, the whopping 65 HP, or whatever it had, wasn't enough to merge onto certain north Texas high speed roads. Central expressway, in its old configuration, wasn't going to happen. The Tollway wasn't a good choice, either, as top speeds on it routinely exceeded 80 MPH. That car could do it, but it sounded painful.

        That car was comfy, spacious, and very well-built. However, non-turbocharged diesels leave more than a bit to be desired when using them as a daily-driver.

        • floatingboy

          ah, true, but the later 123 300D transmissions have a more favorable gear ratio for highway driving. my 1980 euro 300TD got very wound up on the highway, so i know what you mean. this car, however, was a pleasure to drive in all conditions.

  • Irishzombieman

    "smelling of dirty hippies and French fries"

    My first thought when I saw this post was of my one and only interaction with a Merc Wagon that looked just like this. I was driving up a very narrow twisty road, maybe autumn of 2005 or thereabouts and got stuck behind one for 18 miles. The whole time I'm trapped behind this cat I'm cursing and wondering what the hell smells like McDonalds, to the point where I was reaching under seats to see if there was a half-eaten Value Meal getting hot on the floorboard above the catalytic converter.

    Finally the Merc pulls off at a store where I was stopping also. I stepped out of my car, was assaulted anew by the McDonalds smell, then Dreadlocked White Boy opens the door and slithers out of the Merc like his bones were made of flexible conduit. He's straight upwind from me, and added to the french fry smell came an olfactory tsunami of patchouli, weed and body odor.

    "Whoaooo," says he. "Graaaaarly roooad." Then the wind gusted hard and he almost fell over.

    His hand hit the rear window and when he pushed himself up he left a clear hand print in some greasy misty coating that'd covered most of the car. Through this clear, hand-shaped bit of glass I saw 5-gallon buckets. Labeled McDonalds.

    Now this was back before anyone had put much effort into biodiesel, so I was a bit mystified and asked what what he was doing with greasy McD's buckets.

    "Whoa, man, it's my fuckin' FUUUWEL. My, whoa! I run my car WHOA! On vegetableeees.They have to pay to get it taken away so when I tell 'em I'll take it free, they go all 'WHOOOOA' and tell me to come back tomorrow for more." The whole time he's talking he's wiping his hands on his shirt, which I realize is soaked in the same grease that covers–and motivates–his car. He goes on to explain that he added–WHOA!–another small gas tank, which has normal diesel in it and once the car warms up, WHOA! Switch to Mickey D's, dude, in the main tank.

    My initial revulsion turned to fascination as I get what this dude done did. He walked off to the restroom and I just stood there staring at this slimy, stinky Merc wagon. Thinking, to myself, "Whoa."

    • pj134

      And then you pissed on the door handle.

      • Irishzombieman

        Doing so would've improved considerably the cleanliness of that particular car.

      • Alcology

        That sounds like a good ending to any story

    • julkinen

      [youtube n-5F_7DwPpo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-5F_7DwPpo youtube]

      Didn't know this dude drove a Benz.

      • Irishzombieman

        HA HA HA! That could be him with a haircut! Seawater's done him some good.

    • Van_Sarockin

      Sounds like a Trustifarian, which looks like but is completely different from Hippie. But then you said that he actually tried to do something useful, with his hands, on his car, himself. So he can't be a Trustifarian. Yet those Benzes are still too expensive for any of the hippies I know. Very confusing.

      • Irishzombieman

        Paleoneohipsterfarian, maybe?

  • NTIV10

    The couple that owned this car originally also owned an '83 300D Euro sedan, which I bought. I've seen this wagon in person. I don't know what the new owner has done to it, but that is way more money than they were asking for it a few months ago when both cars were for sale by the original owner.

    • floatingboy

      hey there…yeah, this car has had a lot of attention since you last saw it. many maintenance items have been taken care of, original paint buffed up nicely, the small rust spot was cut out an replaced professionally.

      as for your 300D, are you getting any hits on your ad? http://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/2803313145.ht

      i believe that's a bit more than you paid as well, correct?


    10K is a lot of money, but this car looks like it might be worth it. You can buy this car and drive it to the end of days without worries.

  • floatingboy

    You gotta love internet commenter "wisdom". A couple of questions: How easy is it to find a wagon like this? And by "like this", I mean all original, under 200k miles, rust-free, 100% euro, with a 4 speed manual? Look in your local craigslist or on ebay and tell me how many you see. Then tell me if everything works on it. Does it need suspension work? Has some idiot messed up the fuel system with home-brewed veggie oil? Is there rust underneath? Is it leaking lots of oil? Does it need new flex discs, motor mounts, hatch shocks, or any other of the many, many things that wear out on older cars? Maybe you pick one up for $6k that needs $5k in work.

    Start looking and let me know what you find.

    And by the way, this car has had all of those things done. And the person who bought it was happy to pay full asking price because he, for one, knew what he was getting. And he wasn't a trust fund hipster…

  • Fred Olav Mulelid

    Very easy.. Go to Norway! http://www.Finn.no – Bil – Mercedes-Benz