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Old 01-22-2003, 07:42 PM
Steve Fortos
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Question Questions about diesels

I'm planning to buy a Merc diesel. Which diesel is the best overall in regard to price and availability of parts, price of repairs, gas mileage, inherent weaknesses, and longevity/dependabililty? I only have up to $4000 to spend, but have seen quite a few good to excellent '60s-mid-80s Mercedes diesels on Ebay and Auto Trader in that price range. I'd like as much feedback as possible, so don't be shy.
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Old 01-22-2003, 07:51 PM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 12,001
In my opinion you will not go wrong with a W123 model. Look for a '82-'85 300D (available with automatic only) or a '82-'83 240D with manual. If you are into wagons then the '82-'85 300TD (this is my favorite). You should be able to find one with no rust, low miles and records in your price range. Being in Fla you will want to keep r12 refrigerant in that a/c system or go back to it if it has been converted to r134 refrigerant.

Try to drive the different models - 240/300D to get an idea of how they drive.
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Old 01-22-2003, 08:38 PM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 1,004
Avoid any of them that has the acc servo...

Just my opinion but this unit appears to be a real drag when things don't work right. It is a box in the front of the engine compartment iont eh passenger with about a million hoses and wires going into it and is directly connected to the engine cooling system although, funny thing about 'em is, when they are connected no one ever seems to be able to get hot water into the heater core... Go figure. Just kidding for those who's systems actually work.
I know it's on the 1980 model because I have one and the troubleshooting manual is about 30 pages long with schematics and diagrams that could only have come from someone who never put his head under a hood.
Seriously though,
For the money you have you can get a pretty nice older diesel.

Then again you could get a decent one for probably 2000.00 if you shop and then do the little things to make it a really nice one yourself. I think that's what most of those on this forum have done because we're always working on em...
'99 S420 - Mommies
'72 280SE 4.5 - looking to breathe life into it
'84 300SD Grey - Sold
'85 300SD Silver - Sold
'78 Ski Nautique
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Old 01-22-2003, 08:44 PM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 12,001
I agree with you Fisherman - that is the reason I specified the years I did. These years have the AC Delco air compressor and the acc unit that, although cumbersome, can be made to work properly without alot of trouble/cost. The manual climate control ('82/'83) 240D IS by far the easiest one of them all.
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Old 01-22-2003, 08:46 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 459
Depends on how you drive. If you just want something for around town, then a w123 would be great. Parts are cheap (believe it or not), they are very easy to work on, and generally very dependable if cared for.

The drawback to the w123 is that they are pretty noisy, have uncomfortable, unsupportive seats, and don't handle well. Consequently, if you want a highway cruising car good for long distances, then go for a w124 ('86-'95) or w126 ('81-'87). The prices for the w124 and w126 cars are generally between $4500 (in o.k. condition), on up to $10k. You can get an older w126 for pretty cheap, and the engines they have between '81 and '85 are very, very solid if well cared for. But keep in mind these are old cars and may have suffered under previous owners and may need some tlc.

You can pick up 190Ds for cheap, but I never liked them. They are very small inside. Personal opinion. They do get very good gas mileage though. Parts will be cheapest on w123 and older w126 ('81-'85) cars.

Good luck,

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Old 01-22-2003, 08:56 PM
Stevo's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NW WA
Posts: 6,285

I suggest you check out the archives as there is endless discussion on which older MB is best for what reasons. My choice is the manual 240d as they are the easiest to work on. If your not a DIYer its cheaper to have things fixed and the parts are less complicated, manual heating system, manual windows. You could get a nice rust free, low millage 300D or turbo 300D for 4K if you want an automatic and dont mind the power items. Those SDs sure are comfy too. nice "road car" These are ALL nice cars, check out the chit chat for a while and drive a few, should be a bunch in Florida. Good Hunting

1985 Euro 300TD 5 spd 220K
1985 Euro 240D 5 spd 130K
1979 240D 5 spd, 40K on engine rebuild
1994 Dodge/Cummins, 5 spd, 121K
1964 Allice Chalmers D15 tractor
2014 Kubota L3800 tractor
1964 VW bug

"Lifes too short to drive a boring car"
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Old 01-22-2003, 09:22 PM
The Bob
Posts: n/a
Hey folks

my humble opinoin is


If you never had to pass anyone you would swear that you were driving a fast car.... It is the only diesel I ever driven that has some throttle response....

Please dont be offended 240d people. I like them But when I saw one in the parking lot yesterday my second thought after, hey nice MB, was that this car is the slowest car ever built... Now that might not be true but they are slow. IF you get a 240d get a stick shift.

Thanks folks

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Old 01-22-2003, 11:58 PM
mikemover's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 5,514
A 123 or 116.chassis..You can't go wrong with either one as far as durability and ease of maintenance. 126 cars are nice, but more complex and has more of a "luxury" feel to it that I don't prefer.

They all have basically the same diesel engine, but the 116 is a bigger chassis/body, and the 126 is bigger still. More leg room, luggage room, etc.

The ACC is troublesome, but is GREAT if you can get it working properly.

1979 300 SD
350,000 miles
1982 300D-gone---sold to a buddy
1985 300TD
270,000 miles
1994 E320
not my favorite, but the wife wanted it
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Old 01-23-2003, 02:13 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wakefield, RI
Posts: 2,145
Get a 300D!

What you need is an 82-85 300D. Simple to work on. Fairly cheap parts. Still has climate control, sunroof, pw, cc so its nice to drive. I disagree that they are loud. When the rubber mounts and other isolation bits need replacing they can be. I just did motor mounts and cruise noise was cut in half. 75mph all day long and plenty of power to pass. You could look for an SD from the same era but it seems harder to find one in nice shape. They are marginally more comfortable on the highway though. I also disagree that 123 seats are uncomfortable provided they have been "rebuilt" New/reworked springs/foam/padding does wonders for seat comfort. There are many nice used MBs in the price range you specified. Do your homework and get one that has been well cared for and you won't go wrong. RT
When all else fails, vote from the rooftops!
84' Mercedes Benz 300D Anthracite/black, 171K
03' Volkswagen Jetta TDI blue/black, 93K
93' Chevrolet C2500HD ExCab 6.5TD, Two-tone blue, 252K
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Old 01-23-2003, 02:31 PM
rdanz's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,158
The best diesel MB ever made was the 5 cylinder TD my 83 300 SD has 240000 with minimal repairs actually nothing on the engine except valve adjustments and fuel hoses original glow plugs, it was -5 here this morning and it started on the first try without a problem. and gets a constant 25 mpg sometimes better on long trips. Love the car.
Secret to success 3000 mile oil and filter changes,and do maintenence as book suggests on other items,good fuel and AP fuel additive with every tank.
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