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1980 Mercedes-Benz 240D: Life Car?

1980 Mercedes 240D

I have been hunting for a “life car” for a while now. You know, a car that is so good that you’ll never have a good reason replace it. I haven’t found that perfect car yet, but the Mercedes 240D does come dang close. Sure, it’s slow and boring, but the diesel engine under the hood is efficient and could run forever. The manual wind windows on this one are actually a plus and the shift-yourself transmission add a few degrees of much needed fun. Inside you will find comfortable seats and not much else. The 240D truly was a workhorse and if Mercedes still built cars like this today, I would a customer. Finding good 240Ds today can be a challenge though as so many have been neglected or converted to run on vegetable oil. Luckily, this one looks very clean here on eBay and, with a sub $3k asking price, seems like a bargain for a car that very well could last you a lifetime!


  1. fred

    Never had a 240D, but I did have a 300D, and it was about as speedy as a VW bus. I’m no speed demon, but life is to short to have a car that performs like that.

  2. Doyler

    It is a nice example. The manual doesn’t really make up for the lack of a turbo though.

    It also has that blue text interior that I absolutely despise and is a deal killer for me

  3. Rev Rory

    This is not the droid you ‘re looking for.

  4. grant

    I love it. Perfect car to put your teenager in. They arent going anywhere in a hurry and they should be well protected. Wish I was closer.

  5. Peter

    I drove a 240d for many years. It is a great work horse and a nice cruiser. For American highways fast enough anyway!

    Like 1
  6. rusty

    I think you coined a new car phrase..”life car” a bit like a life partner eh..fall in love, move in together , years go by then you realise you cant move onto a new …ummmm car yeah thats it

    neat enough but whats that big snow plow like thing doing on the front?

    • z1rider

      I think that “snow plow looking thing” is just shadows from the overhead lights.

      • rusty

        thanks z1rider..

        just making a joke about the incredibly oversized bumper I must assume was US regulation. Its so big. Its still looks ok design wise but looks tough instead of elegant.

  7. skloon

    This and cockroaches are all that will be left someday

    • rusty

      skloon said ‘”This and cockroaches are all that will be left someday”

      hee hee that cracked me up.

      • Dolphin Member

        Me too. Funniest crack since That Guy’s comment on the Portugal collection being auctioned off by Yvette in Minnesota.

  8. Randy

    I sold euro car parts for years, and worked in many euro repair facilities, these cars are absolutely “bomb proof”. FYI, The only car MB made that was slower was the “turkey” 190D
    (201 chassis)

  9. Dave Wright

    These have to be close to the best car ever built. I have owned a half dozen of them over the decades. The manual transmission is essential, air conditioning is the only other option needed. Mercedes has excellent support for there older cars, I think you can still buy a new crate engine from the dealer. I did a brake job a few years ago on my last one, the total bill for all 4 rotors and pads was something like 125.00. Simple clean elegant taxi cab. Common issues are vacume pumps about every 150K miles and leaky fuel injector return tubes that fail more often in hot climates.

  10. Dan h

    W123’s are great cars! I’ve owned dozens of coupes, sedans and wagons. IMHO, the Mercedes diesel (up to 1985) was the greatest family of engines ever designed.

    Gaps are off on this one and the deteriorated seat padding tells me it’s had a bit of a hard life.
    Good that it’s a manual trans, tho. Automatic 240’s are slower than sin.

    Veggie oil has a bad rap with these cars. I’ve got 185k miles on veg with my current ’82 300TD. A client of mine has 526k miles on his ’80 300TDT. Most of that on vegetable oil.
    The 240D is no exception.

  11. geomechs geomechs Member

    If you think the 240D is gutless, try a 220 or a 190D. You’ve got to get out and push to start out going downhill with a tailwind. Well-built to say the least. Some camshaft problems with this vintage (both 240 and 300D), and they are pricey. I might add that at that time the API was fooling around with oil specifications that might have (no one is admitting it) caused camshaft failures in gas jobs on the domestic market as well at that time. When they changed the spec to SF the cam failures all but stopped overnight. I’ve also seen the timing sprocket(s) come loose on the crankshaft allowing the sprocket to rock back and forth, ruining the keyway. Myself, I might be tempted to pursue this little gem. I don’t mind getting out and pushing…

  12. jim s

    car looks a little tired but would still make a great longterm daily driver. the manual transmission makes the deal look so good. it does have belts in the back for child car seats. this is a dealer and still no motor/trunk/underside photos or did i miss something. do a PI looking for rust, then make a offer and tell them to forget about the $ 395 in fees they want. maybe pull the radio and find a correct one. great find

  13. Leon

    Of these and 300Ds. What is the best year model ranges to look for ?

    • Dave Wright

      I think the newer the better, Mercedes is always refining there cars over the production run. That is one reason parts are ordered by Vin not by year. I am looking for a 300GD to buy in Europe and drive while we are there this fall. We will ship it back to Idaho when we return in December. Another simple bullet proof Mercedes with the W123 engine.

  14. Jimbosidecar

    Manual windows, transmission, and no air conditioning? Is this a grey market import? Then it depends on who did the certification work to determine how well the conversion was done. I bought an MB back in 1984 and it caught on fire due to bad conversion work

  15. Grant

    Not a bad car as a whole, but its a pity the US saw fit to put those horrid extended bumpers on these cars. Slow and smelly too, but they do tend to last for ever!!!

  16. z1rider

    I wish mine had manual windows. The power window’s are a bit problematic. Also good it lacks a sunroof.

    This one is utter simplicity and if the engine is sound it is a desirable piece. This car will be the best to have when the Zombie Apocalypse comes or when the Chinese hit us with an E.M.P. Not a single electronic module involved in making the engine run, just a timer for the glow plugs. In fact, the most annoying thing is that when the inevitable vacuum leaks happen (aging rubber and cracking plastic hoses) the engine won’t turn off since the fuel shutoff to the injection pump is activated by vacuum.

  17. achman

    Nice, but you definitely want a 300TD not this one.

    Spend the extra money and get a nice one, even a wagon if you want a “life car,” or else you will sell this in a year when you get tired of almost dying every time you merge onto the interstate, and also not being able to carry anything.

    I love the W123 and everything you hear about them is true…good and bad.

  18. hhaleblian

    I like the term life car. I bought a 03 Cooper S new. 12 years and 80,000 miles later and on the verge of turning 64 been pondering that this will most likely be my last daily driver. Hopefully on my 76th I can install antique plates on it with about 167k on the clock. May we both last that long and then some. Cooper has been a great car. For me a perfect replacement for my old 83 GTI.

  19. geomechs geomechs Member

    Like achman says, the turbo’d version of the 300D has more power as long as the boost control unit is set properly. They tend to leap forward like a jack-rabbit then halfway through the intersection the driver is biting a chunk out of the steering wheel because the fuel was suddenly cut back by the LDA. I’ve tuned up a lot of them to steadily increase fuel output as the boost comes up (I have no idea why the factory setting suddenly has a reduction before further increase is achieved. I might add that the 300D 5 cylinder engine is a lot easier to work on than the newer 6 cylinder version. There’s too much electronic control stuff on the 6, and when it goes haywire, God help you because you’re going to pay through the nose for repairs.

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