my $.02 worth
I just recently purchased a 1985 300D turbo with 215k miles showing on the clock for $1500. I have already spent about $500 on it (approximately 1/2 of that amount on fastlane.com) and after this coming weekend will have a dependable commuter car.
I purchased the car for the following reasons:
a) I wanted a cheap commuter car to drive to work and beat around town in (I am not worried about "making an impression" so looks do not matter)
b) I wanted a diesel vehicle (my first)
c) I wanted a "project" car because there is not enough to do to the Honda and the E320 to keep me busy with my hobby (tinkering with cars) on weekends
d) I am sure by the time it is all said and done I will have put more $ into this vehicle than what I will be able to sell it for. I am trying to "pace" myself and want to take 1 to 2 years to get it where I want it.
Just about every time I drive or climb underneath the vehicle I find something else to add to the "to do" list. It even has a dent in the trunk that I may or may not resolve (I have never done body work). If I did not enjoy it I would not do it.
Based on everything I have seen and done to the car to date it is my opinion that this vintage 300D (early 80's) has got to be absolutely one of the best vehicles ever built. I would probably feel the same way about a 300SDL but that may be the next project.