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1983 Mercedes-Benz 300CD-T: Pillarless Turbodiesel Coupe Bargain!

Sometimes I find that if I post cars that are interesting (to me…) here, it keeps me from doing something stupid like buying them. This car is an excellent example of me trying to do that. I want this car. I’ve been a fan of the Mercedes 123-series cars since I was a kid, and have owned more than a few of them, including 240s, 280s, and 300s, diesel and gas. My favorites, though, are the 3.0 turbodiesel variants. That motor and the distinctive sounds and smells it makes are among my favorite automotive sensory experiences. I also like the way they look and drive. Find this steal of a coupe here on the PeachParts Mercedes Forum for $4,100.

While the pictures provided by the seller are not terrific, they convey the important messages – straight body, clean paint, nearly flawless interior, no rust, and comprehensive maintenance. What else is there? Well, lots. Recent work to the car includes a complete overhaul of the AC system, oil cooler lines (which are NOT easy or cheap to install), transmission service, valve cover gasket, motor mounts, shifter bushings, and, well, you get the picture. He reports that he paid $4,500 for the car in December, 2010 (out of Atlanta) and has invested another $4,000 into it. Judging by the summary of work, I don’t doubt it. I’d be in big trouble with the missus for flushing at this stage for less than the original purchase price, but a motivated seller is a motivated seller, right?

In fact, the only needs that the seller states that the car has are new shock absorbers all the way around and an oil pan gasket. Anybody who has wrenched on 123s can tell you that both ar easy jobs – so long as you don’t shear the bolts on the shocks and have to have the car towed to your favorite mechanic to fix…. But I digress. All told, it needs about $400 in parts, and you can do the work yourself. To be absolutely perfect, it would need a strip-down repaint along with a replacement blue dash pad – the one thing that lets down the otherwise perfect interior.

123 coupes regularly sell on eBay for between $7,500 and $15,000 (for nice, +/- 50K mile examples), making this car a real bargain. There is a strong support community that surrounds them, and they really will run forever with proper maintenance. Performance is adequate if slightly leisurely, with 0-60 in the 11-12 second range and a top speed of about 120 – downhill in a strong wind. Handling is secure, and they can actually be fun on winding roads. The highway is really these cars’ element, however. They can cruise all day long at 75mph, and get 30+ miles per gallon while they do it. As gas prices climb, the options for economic classic motoring decrease substantially!

There is a bit in the new Steve Jobs biography where the author talks about how Jobs judged people, and one of the factors was what the car they drove said about them – and he was apparently particularly impressed with a classic Mercedes driven by one of his colleagues. The 300CD-T is a car for someone who wants to stand away from the crowd, who does a lot of their own work, but wants to also convey an image of restrained class. Anybody with the means can go buy a new Benz, but it takes a connoisseur to own one of these – and let me tell you, this one is mighty tempting…


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