High Quality, High Mileage: 1984 Mercedes 300 Turbo Diesel

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In the late seventies and early eighties, automakers were experimenting with diesel engines.  Some of these experiments were a huge waste of time, money, and customer loyalty.  Others managed to nearly perfect the engines, only to find that customers had moved on.  If you are looking for a solid yet sinister ride with a hint of burning oil scent, then this may be the Benz for you.  Check out this 1984 Mercedes 300 Turbo Diesel for sale on eBay in Tulatin, Oregon.  With a current bid of $8,599, what do you think this Teutonic Bahn burner will ultimately sell for when the auction ends?

The auto industry across the world was struggling in the seventies.  Oil wasn’t nearly as plentiful as it had been in years past.  It was, however, tied to political strings in many cases.  Detroit’s suffering was magnified when they found themselves trying to market heavy, fuel inefficient cars in an era of rising fuel prices and gas lines.  European manufacturers had dealt with high fuel prices and customers had been “gently encouraged” to purchase smaller vehicles for some time.  The Germans, who we all know build good stuff, had a lot of development time in diesel engines.  The move to put them in cars was a relatively easy one for them.

This Mercedes 300D is a very well-kept representation of just what the Germans brought to worldwide markets.  The W123 was introduced in late 1975, and over 2.4 million of them were built by the time the last was produced in early 1986.  These cars developed a stellar reputation for reliability and durability.  While considered luxury cars in the United States, these vehicles also were put into taxi service in Europe.  Many racked up impressive mileage totals.  Part of this was due to the excellent engineering that went into everything from the drivetrain to the bodies themselves.  Mercedes Benz automobiles of this era were known for being a step above in quality from almost every other manufacturer.  A common plan for owners in America was to purchase a new Mercedes every year because depreciation was so scant.  Demand for these was that great.

As for this car, it is advertised as an adult owned, all original car that has never been smoked in.  There is no rust to be seen and is in running and driving condition.  All of the factory literature comes with the car.  In addition, over $12,000 in service and repair receipts are included.  The car is original from the three-pointed star hood ornament to the factory wheels.  A complete set of studded tires is also included in case you want to play in the snow and ice.

Inside, we see that it is a car produced with a leather interior and a factory sunroof.  It even comes with the original factory radio.  A close look at the dash reveals no cracks and no obvious blemishes.  The wood grained accents are glossy, and the car presents almost as new inside.

In the rear we see that the back seats look to be almost untouched.  There are no cracks in the leather and no evidence of any sun fading.  While the ad does not say, it is likely that the car was garaged all of its life.  In the fine print of the ad, it is revealed that the car has 176,011 miles on the odometer.  Given the condition of the interior, that is almost impossible to believe.

Under the hood is the turbocharged five-cylinder engine that Mercedes offered to the American market.  Horsepower was fairly low at just 87 hp, with a not much higher 127lb/ft of torque.  Yet it was reliability and fuel economy that drew American customers into Mercedes Benz showrooms along with a desire to have an exceptionally well-built automobile.  Power in this Mercedes was sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.

Overall, this is a very nice Mercedes and a testament to the build quality and the top shelf materials used at the time.  Of course, a car like this should be inspected by a competent Mercedes mechanic before plunging headfirst into ownership of a nearly 40-year-old German car.  Chances are the mechanic will tell you whatever needs fixing will be worth the investment.  These cars are just that good.

Have you ever owned a Mercedes Benz?  Please share your experience in the comments.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. alphasudMember

    Car is in beautiful condition as current bids reflect. I believe you quoted HP and torque figures for the NA 300D engine. The turbo diesel made 123HP and 184 ft./lbs, of torque. Still somewhat sluggish off the line but the turbo makes a huge difference. You don’t see many W123 cars in black. Makes the car look executive. 173K is barely broken in and with the way this car has been cherished this could be the last car you own if you keep up with maintenance.

    Like 29
  2. Vince

    I had an ’84 300 SD, loved that car. These are some of the best built vehicles ever made. At that time Mercedes produced all of their own parts, even their own nuts and bolts!

    Like 13
  3. Mike Shaw

    Mike S., In 2000, I had a ’87 450SEL, great car, 90,000 miles, one of the best car I ever owned until the dealer repair bills came in. I believe every man should own a Benz once in their lives, and after the warranty is over SELL it.
    I didn’t think I could install 4-Blousten (?) gas shocks with out putting the car on a lift. Bottom line, never buy an older Benz unless your a mechanic.

    Like 7
    • Rick


      Like 7
    • OldNSlo

      Same could be said for ANY make of car that is 10 years or older and has 50K or more miles.

      Like 6
      • TheOldRanger

        I still own a 1996 Honda Hatchback that has about 150K miles, and it still runs like a charm…. excellent gas mileage 40mpg, no problems (just normal maintenance) and it’s paid for. My wife drives our 2020 Outback, which has more room, but the mileage differs (she gets about 26 mpg)… but then it is bigger and it is AWD… it’s a fun car to drive as well.

        Like 6
      • JBD

        The TD models were much higher HP and usable torque. These are taxi cabs in Europe and it isn’t uncommon to see 500k miles or more on original engines.

        Like 7
    • RSparks

      I owned a 99 E300TD that I bought with 156,000 miles on it and it was a fantastic car. Mine had the later model 6 cylinder which makes a bit more power but both are great. I only sold the car because of rust, which eventually plagues just about all MB but what impressed me the most after the ride and fuel mileage (38 mpg city) was how easy it was to work on in the rare instances when it needed repairs. Anyone who can work on a Japanese car can much easier work on one of these. Parts are not expensive either. The labor is what makes these economically impractical to own but if you can turn a wrench, give it a try.

      Like 1
    • Lee

      So true. Ad for this car states how reliable it is then in the next paragraph 12000$ in repairs and service.
      My 2005 Camry has 205000, except for tires, oil and filters, one set of brake pads (50$) and a change of serpentine belt(60$)
      the only part that wasn’t a maintenance part was 1 taillight bulb(3$).
      The car looks and drives like new.
      No Mercedes for me.

      Like 1
      • GitterDunn

        To be fair, this Benz was already 17 years old when the ’05 Toyota was built, so it’s currently twice as old. In spite of that, it would not surprise me if it were still on the road when the Toyota is long gone.

        Meanwhile, it’s twice the car.

        Like 4
  4. John EderMember

    My ex-wife was considering the purchase of a slightly used MB from our local dealer. She told the salesperson that she wanted her husband to look at it, as he drove a Mercedes. You should have seen the look on his face when I pulled into the lot in my ex-West German Army Unimog 404 radio van and parked it in the “VIP Parking” area.

    She wound up buying a Volvo 850T with a manual transmission (the only one that I have ever seen). That car was a rocket and beyond fun to drive.

    Like 12
  5. Mistersooty

    Had a 126 300SD and will be buried in my 77 240D.

    Make sure that climate control works. Don’t recall if this had a monovalve or not but the rubber has a tendency to split over time. Hot air at idle, exterior temp at speed. The climate control board can be problematic and may need to be taken apart and re-soldered and cleaned. Same clean and re-solder for the cruise control amplifier under the dash on the firewall if that’s not working. Tach amp can under the hood on the drivers fender can be an issue. Clean the contacts and cross your fingers. These little things are a testament to how well built these cars are.

    Like 6
    • alphasudMember

      That climate control looks to be using the Chrysler control box under the hood. Not the best track record for those systems. The cool thing about the older cars is you can repair the modules and yes there were broken solder joints and faulty capacitors but you can actually fix them.

      Like 7
      • Rick

        Unless replaced with non OEM unit it was mfd’d by Benz.
        Part# 1238301285.

        Like 4
  6. KurtMember

    Beautiful car. I like these Mercedes so much more than the modern ones.

    Like 5
    • KurtMember

      Sold. I am really envious! What a great deal. I could not have gotten it registered here in Kalifornia in any event.

      Like 0
  7. Bunky

    Very nice car. At 187k it’s just getting broken in. I have owned a ‘64 190C (gas) ‘71 220D/stick, ‘72 450SL (repowered with a Ford 6). ‘77 240D (arguably the best of the lot) and an ‘83 300D Turbo. The turbo makes a world of difference, better performance, and better fuel economy. 300D Turbo got better mileage than the 240D NA. Reminds me that I still have a raggedy ‘74 240D out back. Hmmm 🤔

    Like 5
  8. CarbobMember

    I have owned a 2006 E320 turbo diesel since 2010. Rock solid, comfortable, plenty of power and 34 mpg. Best vehicle I’ve ever owned. I’ve taken care of it and it still looks good. Currently it has 216,000 miles on the odometer and runs like new. Yeah I’m keeping it. My son has two: an 1983 and a 1999. The ‘83 has 378,000 miles and still runs strong. He bought it for $500.00 four years ago and put about $1,500 in parts and his labor into it. It is not perfect but it looks and runs just fine. His ‘99 is slightly modified and is his daily driver. IMO you can’t go wrong with these. That being said having the seal of approval from a qualified Mercedes Diesel mechanic is solid advice. BTW, the older they are the more they soot. Not everyone’s cup of tea. Looks like someone will be getting a nice old Mercedes diesel. GLWTS.

    Like 4
    • Norman K Wrensch

      The soot can be very easily gotten rid of by running Bio-Diesel. The only reason diesels smoke is because of the dirty fuel they run. Clean fuel no smoke and no stink

      Like 3
    • Matt Saunders

      While stationed in Sinai with the Army in ’91-2 I had the opportunity to go up into Israel to tour many of the historical religious sites. Mercedes taxis were everywhere. The vast majority were diesel. Extremely comfortable rides. Many of them were then sold to Egyptians to use in Sinai once they hit 4-500k miles, sometimes more. Always loved them growing up but that time sold me on them. If the opportunity arises I’d buy 1in a minute but owning a ranch I also have to have a truck (currently ’06 Dodge 3500 megacab Cummins).

      Like 3
  9. Rufus

    In the mid 80’s I worked for a major M-B wholesaler as a contract driver. Buzzy would buy them, I’d fly out, visually inspect, do the paperwork and drive out. Within a couple of hours he would usually have them sold, and I would be off to the new dealer. I criss-crossed the continental US for close to three years racking up frequent flyer miles and Benz seat time. Sure, it was more fun in a 560SEC or a 911, but 240D and 300D’s were our bread and butter. From New York City to DFW was a slog, but if I was in a turbo 300D, it was as comfortable and reliable as you could imagine. I only had one car break down, an early 240D with over 200K miles, and I had it towed to the nearest M-B dealer, and flew out the next morning, the boss having sold it to that dealer, made profit as well. 300D’s are “good property”!

    Like 5
  10. wes johnsonMember

    Bought a ’67 230S while stationed in Germany in mid 70’s. What a great car to drive on the Autobahn. Was the 4 sp sedan so a ball lighting them up to suprise to many other GI’s with american cars. Cruised all day at 90 mph and made 2 trips to the Spanish med. coast resorts. Couldn’t part with it so shipped back to states and ran it for 2 more years. Only problems ever had were needing a valve job, heater core leak, and fuel pump. Pump was killer, but sold it for more than I paid for it 5 year before. Now just putz around in my ’91 SLK. Still a blast to feel the supercharger kick in though. life ist good!

    Like 3
  11. Rick

    Agree about that. Back in the day I would buy from a MB dealer in the morning then drive to Jerome Ave in the Bronx, shop it around a little then home. Made a good days pay or sometimes a weeks pay with these babies!

    Like 1
  12. Ben

    I had a yellow one. Loved that car. Sold it at around 300,000 miles, still ran great.

    Like 2
  13. RSparks

    I bought a second hand 99 E300TD with 156,000 miles and it was a fantastic car. It had the later model 6 cylinder with more power and the ride was great. The only high expense was the shop labor. Parts are cheap and it was one of the easiest cars to work on I ever owned. Anyone who can work on a Japanese car can work on these. Great ride and fuel economy (38 city). If you can turn a wrench give it a try.

    Like 1
  14. RSparks

    Can anyone see the comment I made about owning a Mercedes E300TD? I could see it right after I posted and I’m getting the email responses but when I go back to look, my comment is gone. There is nothing political or profanity or personal attacks in my comments so I’m sure they are not being removed but I can’t see them for some reason.

    Like 1
  15. Ward William

    Love it. Buy this and you will never need to buy another car in your lifetime. This is the car Keith Richards will be driving after the bomb leaves leaves a cold dark world to him and the cockroaches.

    Like 2
  16. Robert HagedornMember

    Can anyone explain how a car can have 176,000 miles on the odometer and still look almost like it just left the showroom floor? I’m tempted to believe that instead of turning back the odometer, the owner, for some strange reason, actually turned it ahead about 165,000 miles. As Jeff puts it, it IS almost impossible to believe.

    Like 1

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