Diesel Survivor: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300SD

The Mercedes-Benz W126 chassis is a masterpiece of over-engineering, and has long been looked at as a benchmark for 1980s luxury sedans. Despite these credentials, they’re not worth a whole lot today, largely because they get driven into the ground and are rarely preserved as collectibles. That’s not the case here, as this 1983 Mercedes 300SD remains in incredible shape despite having over 200,000 miles on the clock. That odometer reading doesn’t mean much on a turbodiesel-equipped Mercedes, as most enthusiasts would tell you it’s just barely broken in. Find the 300SD here on craigslist in Annandale, Virginia for just $3,800.

I really can’t stop looking at this stately sedan, as so many of the details that typically perish due to the passage of time look absolutely perfect here. The chrome trim around the bumpers, the Bundt wheels, the lenses front and rear – they all present so well, it’s hard to believe this 300SD hasn’t been repainted or entirely restored. The listing says nothing about a respray or a restoration in this car’s history, so we’re left to assume it’s all original. The color isn’t going to be to everyone’s liking, but it’s hard to deny just how handsome this cappuccino-colored Mercedes is, especially with laser-straight bodywork.

If the outside didn’t surprise you, the interior is going to blow your mind. First of all, we so rarely see Mercedes of this era with a deep brown interior like this, as most W126s seemingly all wear tan or gray leather. The dark wood trim and still-lustrous dash pad and door panels all speak to an owner who has gone to great lengths to keep the cosmetics in pristine shape while racking up huge mileage. Now, the good news is with a Mercedes of this era, is that both the drivetrains and the interiors are made to last – so as long as the next owner keeps up with the maintenance plan the current caretaker has employed, it should still look this good ten years from now.

I keep looking at that chrome strip on the bumper – so nice. The Mercedes even retails its US DOT headlights, which is rare to see given how many owners upgrade to the European-market H4 lenses. The engine bay is nicely detailed, and the paint matches consistently across the engine bay, fender tops, and radiator cowl. Overall, there’s very little to find fault with, and this is an incredible value for the money. Additional photos show what looks like an unused full-size spare tire and a complete factory tool kit, rounding out the list of impressive original details that accompany this 300SD.

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  1. doone

    It’s a gorgeous specimen, that said why is the star in the steering wheel off center, what is with the stripes on the front carpets and no pictures of the underside…these models were very prone to the tin worm.

    Like 2
    • Daniel Wright

      When cars are detailed for photos they tend to vacuum them this way…I am not sure why.

      Like 1
  2. alphasud Member

    For $3800 it won’t last long. Given the exterior condition and the cleanliness of the engine bay I’m sure the underside is probably good. I have the long wheelbase 560SEL and I agree with Jeff they are over engineered and make great highway cruisers. I like the color combination of gold and coffee somebody is going to get a nice car.

    Like 13
  3. msheiner msheiner Member

    I am the very proud owner of a 1990 560sel with less than 75000 Miles on the odometer. Even after years of ownership, I feel very fortunate to be the current caretaker of this piece of Automotive History. Every aspect of the vehicle interior and exterior is overbuilt and a thing of beauty! This car and my 560sec have the most comfortable seats.

    Like 5
  4. Fred W

    Once had a 420SEL that looked identical. My wife never quite forgave me for selling that car!

    Like 6
  5. OhioLou

    While I agree this generation Benz is the standard to quality auto build, are we looking at the came car ? Front passenger fender/hood fitment is off. Way off for this generation. I don’t think it is as easy as slamming the hood to correct. Trunk lid hanging too low compared to the back fenders. Not huge, but I have never seen a non hit 380/420/560 Benz off this much. I’m also seeing some shade difference in the paint color, top compared to the sides. Looks priced right with mileage, issues.

    Like 5
    • Wsuperman4445 Member

      Seriously? It’s not as if this car were headed to Pebble beach or Barrett Jackson. Door trim? Filiment? Can’t see pics of the underside? (Ask for more pics) It’s not a 38,000 car, it’s a 3,800 car with 200,000 miles on it. If I didn’t have the 3 Benzs I own now, this one would surely be the fourth!

      Like 1
      • Solosolo Member

        I totally agree with you 4445. What do some of these people want for nothing, their money back?

        Like 1
  6. PhilNC

    Ad says 6 cylinder. This was a 5 cylinder, right?

    Like 2
    • Solosolo Member

      According to Google this is it. W126 300 SD has a turbocharged Inline 5 cylinder engine, Diesel motor, with the engine code OM617. This engine produces a maximum power of 122 PS (120 bhp – 90 kW) at 4350 rpm and a maximum torque of 250 Nm (184 lb.

      Like 2
      • Oldog4tz Member

        Yes, exact drive train as my w123

  7. Cobra Steve

    This is one of the last of the REAL Mercedes, in my humble opinion, back when the engineers ruled the roost and not the marketing bozos. The crap (and I am being kind with this word) coming out of Stuttgart since the early ’90’s has only gone downhill to the present.

    Mercedes-Benz lost me as a customer when they succumbed to the ever-changing whims of the marketing department. Personally, I don’t give a darn about active suspension, air-conditioned seats, heated steering wheels, and all the other so-called necessities which will fail in due time and be horrifically expensive if not impossible to repair.

    Like 10
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking Mercedes-Benz. I remember when these were sold. I was way too young to drive at the time. But at the time, I found them more attractive than the W123 Mercedes-Benz.

    Like 2
  9. Dean

    although the interior is immaculate, the pannel alignment issues are worrying as i have not seen alignment that bad even on cars in poor condition. although these engines are known to last forever, i would be sure to ensure it is running correctly, given the weirdness of the body.

    Like 1
  10. Adam Impson

    What is the aftermarket switch to the left of the steering wheel?

    Like 1
  11. Horris Morris

    I called
    Repainted 6 months ago

    Like 6
  12. Gerard Frederick

    Cannot escape nagging doubts. If it´s too good to be true, it usually is.

    Like 4
  13. Kevin

    I’ve always liked these,and want one,but a gas powered engine, not diesel, very classy, over engineered machines.

    Like 1
    • On and On On and On Member

      Kevin, I had a 380 SE, gas V8 and a 420SEL ……were the best road cars I ever had, don’t be afraid of the diesel unless you live in a cold climate, then they can be problematic as daily drivers…… I’ve had 3 Mercedes Diesels and 2 gas V8s……..now I wouldn’t buy a Mercedes built after the 300E series centennial models………only good while they’re under warrantee, then get away just like BMWs and Audis……..IMHO only…..

      Like 2
      • Kevin

        Thanks on and on,and I do live in a cold climate, northeast Ohio,so diesel is out,don’t like the sound, smell,or plumbing etc.on them anyway.

        Like 3
  14. Kenn

    Gerard Frederick, this is not “too good to be true.” It’s priced right for what it is and will give someone a very nice ride, with nothing comparable even at double the price. IMHO as an owner of one for 240,000 miles.

    Like 2
  15. George Mattar

    Cobra Steve is on the money. Mercedes quality is like GM and Chrysler junk today. The company is a joke. I would not buy any Benz made after 1989. The 80s cars were like bank vaults. I am 65 years young and do not want any navigation crap, heated this and that and active BS suspension. I work at a car dealer. We had in a 2017 Benz junk SUV. The woman complained the car was riding hard. No wonder the active suspension had failed. One shock is $1,700. She needed four and labor. The radiator was leaking at 50,000 miles. That is like $1,200. She junked the car. I rest my case. All high end German cars are garbage. And my daughter just bought a used Audi Q7. She did not consult me. She will find out.

    Like 2
  16. Ian Sights

    I had one of these, same model, year and color 20 years ago. Same mileage too, even paid the same price this seller is asking now. They are great cars. The 5 cylinder turbo diesel is a bit slow off the line, but was a great highway cruiser. I bought a book on the W126 Mercedes and the author said that while they are well designed and built, they are not for the impecunious enthusiast. Mercedes Benz holds its parts in high regard and charges accordingly. A $300 starter was my wakeup call that this wasn’t a sub $4K kick around car, but a $38,000 luxury car with a lot of miles that had some needs. I’d be interested in revisiting the past with this one, but I have an older, even needier BMW to care for now.

    Like 2

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