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Old 04-26-2003, 03:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Phoenix Arizona. Ex Durban R.S.A.
Posts: 4,128
I think I may have found one. Help.

OK. So I've done a stupid thing. With a mere $1300.00 in a special savings account set aside for the purpose I drove past an independent MB shop here in Phoenix wondering what they might have in their lot. Pure idle curiosity see as I had nothing better to do this morning.

Turned out that they have a 1984 123 300D (non turbo) with 250000 miles on it for $2100.00. It's an unusual car in that although it has US lights it's not a US spec car in other respects. It was bought by the original owner in Germany and then moved with him to the US. His son was the next owner and now it's for sale. It has electric windows and a sun roof all of which work. And best of all it has European A/C, same as on the 240D, not the awful US spec HVAC system. And it blows COLD. A major plus in Phoenix!

However I have some questions for the forum if you'all would not mind adding your collective wisdom. No problems staring or switching off. But I do suspect transmission work in it's near future. There is a small leak under the vehicle when parked. About the size of a dollar bill after a few minutes. The dealer said he thouht the tranny was beginning to leak. One thing that definately did not work was the kickdown. I could get it to drop down one gear if I floored it while doing about 30 to 40 but at no stage was there any life from the kickdown switch under the "motion pedal" This is the third 300D I've test driven and I hesitate to use the word "accellerator" with them. While it seemed to shift easily, if a little harshly when I worked thru the gears manually it appeared far less interested in moving around between ratios as a normal automatic.

With the car stationary and my foot off the break shifting from N into R produced an immediate and smooth backwards motion. From N into D produced a more interesting two stage forward motion of immediate slight forward creep followed within a second or two by propper forward motion. I repeated this several times so the two stage forward movement is not my imagination. Could that be wear in the driveline? Perhpas requiring new flex discs etc?

There was a considerable amount of black smoke poured out from behind when I accellerated - there I go again, that should be when I moved off from rest - although this did seem to get less noticable as the test drive progressed and it warmed up.

When I turned the key to the off position motor shutdown was instantaneous but there was a sharp metallic knock from just in front of the drivers foot well in the engine compartment. Like somethign large and heavy knocked against the chassis. I'm suspecting a bad motor mount. Would that possibly also be the reason that the whole car had a noticable wobble at idle?

My thoughts are that I might see about plunging into debt if the engine compression checks out in order to get this as a project car which may need mechnical stuff but happily needs no body work at all. I could find no trace of rust anywhere inside, underneath or in the trunk. Not even in the spare wheel well. But the chocolate brown paint was faded on the hood, roof and trunk lid. Indicative of life in the hot dry southwest.

Well, any comments on my recconnaisance mission would be welcome. As a last observation. I was unable to get it above 50mph at any stage during the drive which admittedly was only on surface streets. Assuming the engine is okay what is a realistic crusing speed on a freeway for this car?

- peter.

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Old 04-26-2003, 04:05 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: central Texas
Posts: 17,277
If it does not have some problem specific to it mechanically, it will cruise all day at 75 mph.. and think nothing of it...
It is the long hills, getting onto on ramps on Highways, passing another vehicle on a back road and getting off from a stop light which are sorta tense moments..
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Old 04-26-2003, 04:53 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wakefield, RI
Posts: 2,145
I would have a whole lot of concern about a car with 250K on it, a leaky transmission that acts funky for $2100. I would either look for a 240 stick or a 300 turbo. The only plus I can see is the Euro CC controls. Price seems up there considering the transmission. 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 04-26-2003, 07:12 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: CT
Posts: 1,398
Take a pass on a non-turbo 300. There's alot on Turbos out there for the same money.
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:09 PM
Posts: n/a
Not a bad find, really. It's hard to pass up the good A/C system and a clean body is a major plus. But with the lack of a turbo on an auto tranny, the questions about tranny health and the high miles this is a $1000 car, at best. If you will keep looking, you will find that there are plenty of stronger drivers out there that will be much better overall cars for the money. Rust-free is not so much of an issue out there in the SW. So, I would pass. She's way overpriced. The best deals on these MB Diesels seem to be mostly from private parties.
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:36 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Phoenix Arizona. Ex Durban R.S.A.
Posts: 4,128
Do they really exist

The prevailing opinion seems to be that without a turbo these cars are not worth much. Well, I'd like a Turbo sure. But I'd also consider a 240D - though preferably not automatic - so I'm not too worried about that aspect of it.

However what does concen me is that after searching in Phoenix for three years I see a discrepancy between the opinions on this forum and the reality on the ground. Seems the great cheap deals on dirt cheap 123's arn't happening in this town. Looks like I'm stuck in a high price market

- Peter.
81 240D stick. 316000 miles at purchase. 345000 now
2000 GMC Sonoma
2002 Kia Rio. Worst crap on four wheels
1981 240D 4spd stick. 389000 miles. Deceased Jan 08
1984 123 200
1979 116 280S
1972 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1971 108 280S
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:52 PM
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Well, Phoenix is pretty isolated. We live in metro NYC and have a huge market here. I have noticed that Las Vegas advertises some good cars from time to time. If you have the means to pick up a car from that distance, you might consider Vegas and even Albequr, Albekir, Alba... New Mexico.
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Posts: 3,596

Like the others have already noted, the value of a grey market car without any problems is going to be less than that of an equivalent US model. You have noted this car has a transmission problem, which will not be trivial to address, and especially so on a grey market vehicle. I would pass unless you were very satisfied with the rest of the vehicle, and you are willing to put up with the idiosyncracies of a grey market car.

For the most part there are no real problems with grey market cars, as MB, like other manufacturers, has not purposely made parts unique where they can be interchangeable between markets. A non-turbo version of the 300D was sold over here for a few years, so transmission parts should be accessible.

Like the others have noted, I also think the US market cars with turbos (and other US market standard equipment not always on grey market cars) with that mileage will go for significantly less, without transmission failures apparent. So, I would not go into hock for the priviledge of owning the car. Try offering $800, noting it is not a turbo, it is grey market and you see a big bill for the transmission rebuild lurking. I really don't think there will be many buyers for the car at nearly any price. If someone wants it more than you, and pays the higher price, just keep looking. There are some nice ones out there at a reasonable price. Good luck, Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 04-26-2003, 10:18 PM
Posts: n/a
The thing about a Euro spec car is to make sure that the car has had a proper conversion to US spec, if one has been done, some problems can be expensive to repair. Also keep in mind that many parts are different and can be a little tricky to find. Keeping this in mind, a Euro spec car should never sell for more than the US version, unless it is a specific model that is highly desired...

I have always wanted a Euro Spec car, but have been keeping those things in mind. Plus most of the two I have looked at were in bad shape. I would love to own a Euro 230E with headlight wipers, but they are hard to find, option 972 would be a neat plus. Our German friend Eberhard Weilke says that some were imported for the Police in Colorado
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Old 04-27-2003, 09:59 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: PA
Posts: 5,440

The way the transmission works when going into drive may not be a problem. The transmission normally goes into 2nd to eliminate creep and then jumps into 1st when you press the accelerator. So that part of it may be working properly. You should get underneath and see where the leak is coming from. Maybe it just from a gasket or the drain plug.

Make the owner a "loball" offer and see what happens siting bad transmission,grey model, high mileage, non turbo etc. If can handle most mechanical problems your self, your repair bills will just be the price of the parts. You should be able to get a rebuilt trans for $1200 and install it yourself if necessary.

I've had a lot of non turbo MB and I agree with Edge that I would only buy a Turbo. You get 50% more power with no decrease in fuel mileage with a turbo.

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Old 04-27-2003, 10:59 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Posts: 502
To buy or not to buy


A Euro 300D with an automatic is verboten but only because it has a automatic. I made myself one by converting a 240D to a 300D and have a turbo rear end in it. That produces a 300D that's imminently dependable, get 32 MPH on long trips, can wind up to 75 in third gear for onramp merging and has heater controls and fulltime a/c that always function. That confirmgeration allows the use of the York compressor- mine is the original '77 one. Need I say more.

In the event you're really looking for a venue where you can find more great MBZ 123s than you know what to do with, simply go to type in Mercedes 1977-1985 and try not to droll.

L.A. isn't all that far from Phoenix and if you watch the list religiously you may find deals that you can't pass up.


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