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Old 06-01-2001, 12:02 AM
RunningTooHot's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2000
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Posts: 775
I’ve found a couple of good candidates for purchase, an ’84 and an ’85 300SD. They are both California versions, and that has me concerned.

After searching & reading numerous threads, it seems that there are some significant differences between these two model years and the earlier versions of the 300SD. I am aware of the unique (expensive) air filter needed on the 1985, as well as an apparently unique transmission pan gasket. I am curious as to why the transmission gasket is different if the car utilizes the same basic 4 speed automatic as the earlier cars – or have there been some significant internal changes in that transmission?

The unique pollution control setup is another concern. California, surprisingly enough, does not require that diesel powered cars be periodically inspected for compliance with smog regulations. I am aware of the trap oxidizer that has been (or should be) eliminated by the dealer. Someone wrote about the boost being computer controlled on these cars instead of the simpler early setup. Unfortunately, that post was lost on the day the Server crashed. Does anyone know if these cars would respond favorably to reverting them back to the simpler boost control setup used on earlier cars? Or am I overly concerned about all of this, and they are just fine just the way they are?

It seems that there are many differing opinions about these cars. I would really love for you knowledgeable people out there to give me your feedback or experiences with these late model California 617.95X engines & transmissions.

Thanks again to everyone!

P.S. – Thanks for hanging in there with me during the last couple of weeks – I’m sorry if I’ve been a pain in the exhaust manifold
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Old 06-01-2001, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Holland, MI
Posts: 1,316
I had an '85 300SD. I got to drive it 8,000 miles before it was Killed in Action at 233,000 miles.

I hadn't had a chance to change the air filter.

The boost was not controlled by computer, it had the usual mechanical injection stuff including spring-valve wastegate and ALDA compensator. No computer chips in the engine bay.

I don't know about differences in transmission pan gaskets, or if there was a California model.

When I bought it I drove it, was impressed by how nice it seemed, and didn't worry too much about much else. I figured I'd deal with problems one at a time.

Having displayed so much ingnorance, I will close by saying that I'd be glad to have to make a choice, and I'd probably just flip a coin. I think either would be great!

Good Luck, Good Hunting and
BCingU, Jim
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Old 06-01-2001, 04:40 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 413
My CA '85 SD is a wonderful car, but it gets 19-20 mpg. My neighbor has a CA '83 Sd and he gets 25 mpg. He doesn't have all the smog equipment on his.
'76 240D-Sold
'78 240D-Sold
'85 300 SD, 165K-Sold
'88 300 TE, 165K-Sold
'64 Porsche 356C Cabriolet
'86 560SL 124K Miles
'94 320E Wagon, 74K Miles
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Old 06-01-2001, 07:36 PM
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Los Angeles, Calif, USA
Posts: 521
If the 617 engine car is running 20 mpg, it possible is running a little rich. I would say 24 or 25 miles is about right. Some people reported 28 mpg.

I will not worry about the tranny different between 84 and 85 since the pan gasket is readily available and cheap. The same pan gasket for the 85 is used on other models too.

The major different between 84 SD and 85 SD is the Catalyst (or trap oxidizer before the recall)in California. It is expenive to replace. If you are one of the unlucky one who needs another Catalyst after one year, it is about $800, part and labor. Also, 85 Calif SD was slowest among all SD due to the trap oxidizer. I do not have data to tell you how fast the 85 SD is with the new Catalyst. I have 300D and 300SD, both 85 Calif, one with the Catalyst and the other is still having the old T.O. As far as the performance concerns, I cannot tell the difference between them. I could modify the turbo to make the turbo kicking in early (about 1500 rmp instead of ~2500 rpm) but I have never tried to do so. The performance right now is acceptable to me and I do not want to put the extra load on the turbo.

SD is comfortable. I think the 84 has no memory seat but 85 does and the aux fan for the AC is larger in 85. 85 SD has ABS but not 84. 85 uses the 9-blade plastic fan and the 84 does not. The plastic fan is better. There are not other differences I can think of now; you already know them all.

As far as California models go, both 84 and 85 have an electronic module (as I call it computer). It is a very sample logic measuring rpm, tempurature, etc. to control the EGR and the turbo operation.

If every thing being equal, I will take the 84. However, price and cosmetic condition are very important to me for deciding which diesel to buy.

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