BF Auction: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300 SDL

Bid to: $3,500View Result

There comes a time in most people’s lives when owning a hard-edged performance car is less appealing, and the lure of a more luxurious classic is impossible to resist. Traditional “land yachts” can fulfill that need, although they don’t generally offer responsive handling or reasonable fuel consumption. That is where cars like this 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300 SDL fill the void. It will comfortably seat five people, is loaded with luxury appointments, and is economical enough to serve as a practical daily driver. This German classic isn’t perfect, but lifting it to a higher level should not prove difficult or expensive. If you feel sorely tempted, you will find the SDL listed exclusively here at Barn Finds Auctions.

Some cars blend into the background, while others possess a sense of presence that helps them stand out in a crowd. This 1986 Mercedes fits into the second category, and it wouldn’t look out of place transporting European Heads-of-State in total comfort. It isn’t perfect, but the most important first consideration is that it is rock-solid and completely rust-free. Its Black paint shines nicely, and the panels are free from significant dings and dents. There are a couple of minor blemishes and marks, but a professional could address these without resorting to a complete repaint. The attached photos provide clear insight and reveal that because they aren’t pressing problems, the new owner could attend to them as time and circumstances allow. The Silver on the lower body moldings has deteriorated in spots, but addressing this in a home workshop should be a straightforward and rewarding task due to the ready availability of appropriate paints and other materials. The alloy wheels would benefit from a few hours of work with a high-quality polish, while the remaining trim and glass present well. As you can see, this Merc’s cosmetic needs are unlikely to break the bank, and tackling them would lift the car’s presentation to a far higher level.

Mercedes offered buyers in 1986 a bewildering range of engines across its various models, but the 300 SDL features the 2,996cc six-cylinder turbo-diesel powerplant. It sends 148hp and 201 ft/lbs of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. The combination may not sound exciting, but it does spring a few surprises. In typical diesel fashion, power and torque delivery occur low in the engine’s rev range, making this Mercedes surprisingly agile in heavy traffic. Pointed at a stretch of open road, this 300 SDL should cruise effortlessly all day at 70mph while returning fuel consumption figures of more than 30mpg. Fuel usage in city situations is equally impressive, making this classic a viable daily driver. This car is in generally sound mechanical health, with its diesel powerplant pulling strongly. The seller notes that they treated the turbocharger to a rebuild, but the vehicle began smoking about five months later. There is no performance loss, seeming to reinforce their belief that the issue is probably a faulty turbo seal. It requires professional diagnosis, but resealing a turbo is not expensive. The brakes and transmission received new fluid, with new rear calipers and pads on all corners being another recent addition. The Michelin tires retain around 90% of their tread. There’s a small fluid leak at the transmission that developed while the car was sitting. It’s likely from the oil cooler lines and chances are it’s something you can fix easily. The seller notes that the transmission shifts as it should and that it hasn’t been driven without the proper level of fluid in the transmission. Overall, the car is in excellent mechanical health.

Opening this classic’s doors reveals acres of Black leather upholstery and woodgrain trim. The impression is positive, but there are a couple of issues for the buyer to address. There are a pair of matching seam separations on the rear seat back (refer to the photos below), but a simple restitch of the affected spot should be easy and relatively cheap. The woodgrain trim around the shifter has deteriorated, which is typical. That flaw sparked my interest, and a brief search of a couple of online auction sites unearthed a spotless secondhand replacement for under $100. I also found a shiny new one for around $150, giving the buyer choices to consider. If the new owner feels adventurous, they could attempt a restoration. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. There is an issue with the trim around one door pull, but it appears repairable with a bit of patience. One welcome option with this Mercedes is the factory sunroof. This deserves special mention because they are notorious for leaking. The seller treated the entire system to a rebuild a few years ago, including replacing the tilt risers. It works as it should, although the inner trim has a tear that occurred during the rebuild. It might be repairable, but scouting online sites for a replacement would be wise. The rest of the interior presents well for a vehicle of this vintage. The plastic shows no signs of deterioration, the carpet is protected by some high-quality mats, and the only aftermarket addition is a Kenwood CD player. The air conditioning is inoperative, while the cruise control works intermittently. Both issues require further investigation, but this can happen at the new owner’s leisure. The odometer has been a bit “hit-and-miss” lately, and although it currently shows 189,000 miles, the seller believes the true figure is somewhere around 192,000 miles. Adding to the feeling of luxury are power windows, power locks, a rear defogger, and a power antenna.

For an individual with a growing family, this 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300 SDL has to be tempting. Its needs are minor, and many could be addressed in a home workshop. It offers enough space to seat five people, which is particularly important for anyone with teenagers and their ever-increasing height. As a long-distance tourer, it should effortlessly devour the miles while sipping daintily from its fuel tank. It is worth noting that values are climbing higher than the market average, marking the 300 SDL as a promising investment. If you want to feel like a member of the European aristocracy without spending a king’s ransom, maybe you should give this Mercedes a closer look.

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Mileage: 189,000 Miles Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 3.0-liter Turbo Diesel Inline Six
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • VIN: WDBCB25DXGA253134
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Auction

High Bid: $3,500 (Reserve Not Met)
Ended: Feb 7, 2023 3:00pm MDT
High Bidder: yomarkm
  • yomarkm
    bid $3,500.00  2023-02-07 10:27:37
  • rlhunter58 bid $3,000.00  2023-02-01 17:28:06
  • bcausey83 bid $100.00  2023-02-01 09:42:38

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. SmokeyMember

    Had an “84 SDL new and it spent more time in the shop than at home. Then got a new 87 SDL (both diesel turbos btw} and it gave me more trouble than the 84!! I had the thickest file of work orders at my independent MBZ garage. I maintained then both by the book . The engines ran great. But mention any others parts and they broke. At the same time I had a series of various Porsches with NO major problems, also book maintained. Sold the last MBZ and got a new Honda Accord for my daily driver and kept Porsches for sport. I am now on my fifth Honda Accord. I have never spent a nickel on repairs for any Hondas, just maintenance. The Hondas all had high mileage when sold.

    Like 12
    • TheOldRanger

      I couldn’t have afforded a Mercedes, but I did love all my Honda cars (new 1979 through 2020, ranging from the 1200 cc engine up through the Acura TL) and only maintenance costs.
      I still own a 1996 Civic Hatchback (130,000+ miles) and still runs like a charm with 40 mpg, which I will keep until I die.
      My girls have joked I will probably be buried in it.

      Like 2
    • Jimmy

      Where is this Benz located

      Like 1
      • Christian

        Seattle, WA area.

        Like 0
    • mark bristor

      I have a 1984SD300.I had 50 WV products and 30 years of semis in my past.Repairs are done at home.3rd owner.Black NO Rust California car.Don’t mid replacing parts.I wouldn’t be afr5aid to jump in her and go anywhere.A real piece of German workmanship.If I where paying for repairs my story would be UGLY!!!!!!!!

      Like 1
  2. MoragaPulsar

    Somewhere back in time, I think Edd China was lamenting about a similar vintage Mercedes and said something along the lines that the climate control stepper motors were made of cake frosting. Too funny, but true?

    Like 4
    • Christian

      Seller here – it’s true the climate control system on these can be trouble. That said, I replaced the control unit about four years ago with a remanufactured one and everything works as designed (with the exception that the A/C compressor does not engage).

      Like 1
  3. MarkC

    On photo 32 the airbag looks like it was deployed. There are white marks on the steering wheel. Is it due to an accident?

    Like 3
    • Terrry

      an ’86 with air bags? I don’t think so.

      Like 0
      • MarkC

        “Driver’s airbags were introduced in 1981 as an extra-cost option for all models and engines. From September 1987 on, the passenger’s airbags were added as extra-cost option for the 1988 model year. The consumers could choose either driver’s airbag only or driver’s and passenger’s airbags. For the US market, the driver’s airbags were standard from 1987 onward due to the federal regulations; the passenger’s airbags were extra cost option until 1989 when they became standard for models with V8 engines only and 1991 for the rest of model range.”

        Like 6
      • mark lawrence bristor

        starting in 1986,every Mercedes sold in the United States was equiped with driver side AIR BAG

        Like 1
    • Christian

      Seller here – airbag has not deployed – you can see the seam due to age and I can see the airbag in there. SRS light is not on either (actually no warning lights are on).

      Like 0
  4. Terrry

    If this car can be had at a decent price and you don’t mind doing a little of this and a little of that to get it right, it could really be a find. It’s hard to kill the engines and transmissions in these.

    Like 1
  5. Peter K

    I have owned a number of diesel mercedes over the years. I put mega miles on them for work. They never left me on the road. This car with the 6 banger in it should be the same as long as you take care of it by doing the required maintenance . Don’t do it and pay the consequences. Being that its in the midwest I would like to know how much rust it has. It will also probably need all the bushings replaced in the front end.

    Like 1
  6. wes johnsonMember

    Des Moines, WA is not the midwest. Though like it, $1000 up to ship it to east coast. Would have to go REALLY cheap to make while to ship.

    Like 2
    • John Guthrie

      It’s in Seattle Washington, if he would drive it to abbotsford b.c. canada for 3000 u.s. I’d buy it. For the geography graduates.

      Like 0
  7. wes johnsonMember

    So is it in Des Moines IA or Des Moines, WA??

    Like 0
  8. Philip R

    This car is in Des Moines, Washington so it’s a west coast car.

    Like 0
  9. 433jeff

    This is a great car, Or luxury liner I should say, Big safe this motor will last a long time, yes the car did have head issues, climate control issues, trap oxidizer recall.

    Small potatoes for what you end up with( for me anyway).

    This motor will last snd last if you care for it, Just like the great 5 cylinder 617,( yes the 617 has more maint required) My 85 Td wagon was an awesome machine.

    But this is a great car, my friend had the twin no rust black car but with yellow interior ( definitely not as sharp as black interior) that car sold cheap at 5 grand 15 years ago.

    That car 87 Sdl would cruise at 110, the faster you went the more it squatted, thats the mercedes way .

    Like 0
    • Christian

      Seller here – this was my daily driver for years and it never let me down. Never had any head gasket issues or overheat in my ownership (~8 years). I always use the correct MB coolant (purple) with distilled water and religiously keep up on oil changes. This was not a California emissions car so doesn’t have the pesky trap oxidizer.

      Like 0
  10. wes johnsonMember

    Nice ride, but too expensive to ship and not enough time to come get. Best of luck.

    Like 0

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