Turbo Diesel Survivor: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 300SD

This 1981 Mercedes 300SD is awaiting a new owner and is currently in Oakdale California. Showing 342,889 miles on the clock, this “{tank of a sedan” is offered here on eBay with a $1,500 Buy It Now price. Powering the full-sized luxury sedan is the well known 3.0 liter inline 6 cylinder turbo diesel. Often thought of as an indestructible power plant, these sluggish but dependable motors have proven the test of time and endurance. Many are documented with over a million miles. Mercedes offers badges to display proudly on the grill called “High Millage Awards”. The “bragging badges” start at 155,000 and are offered up to 1,000,000 miles. This unit qualifies for two badges but appears to not adorn either. While the mileage may seem high, the car itself doesn’t betray the miles traveled.

Inside the cab, the once ultra-luxurious seats and dash are almost standard fare in today’s market. The driver’s seat appears fully intact but does show some wear in the form of some minor wrinkling in the seat. The dash does appear to show some minor cracks, but that could also be the lighting in the pictures the seller has provided. The door panels and carpet appear in good order. Other interior features include a power sunroof and full-grain wood in the dash.

The seller states the car has been sitting up and is not currently registered due to the owner’s passing. Seller further states a good bit of maintenance has been recently performed, including glow plugs, front brakes, and calipers, thermostat, and coolant, changed the oil and filter, air filter, front tires. The car comes with new rear brakes to be installed and a full take of fuel.

While we can discuss the features of this once top of the line car, the heart of this beast is the inline turbo diesel. These motors are incredibly dependable, and truly “engineered like no other car”. They were designed to meet both challenging fuel efficiency requirements and ever-changing emissions standards. The 300SD delivered 30 MPG on the highway, at a time when tiny subcompacts were challenged to produce similar results. These were not a car to hit the drag strip with, but with the addition of the turbo would navigate around securely with poise and ease. Many collectors enjoy these sedans, and while this specimen may be just a driver, there is a strong market for those as well.

Outside the car presents itself well, with a handsome understated beige paint job. The seller notes some surface rust on the roof but not pictures are provided to assess the issue further. One advantage of this diesel Benz is its ability to run alternative fuels absent expensive retrofits, just will it up with biodiesel and go. Many buyers today not only long for simpler cars of yesteryear but also desire to “unplug” from the fossil fuel industry. This ride will do just that and then some.

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  1. Alan Brase

    Apparently not quite as well known as you think, seeing as it is a FIVE cylinder diesel. These were know to be pretty long lived engines, but not as smooth as the six that came later.

    Like 6
  2. JOHN Member

    Sold, seems like a deal to me, $1500!

    Like 4
  3. Ward William

    After the end of the world, the cockroaches will all be driving old Mercedes diesels.

    Like 8
  4. David Frank David Frank Member

    That sold quickly! Even for parts, that was a great deal.

    Like 2
  5. Scirocco

    This was the venerable OM617 engine with 5 cylinders. Bulletproof. AKA the million mile engine. The Mercedes W123 chassis (300D Turbodiesel) used this engine too. Then they came out with the OM603 engine which was 6 cylinders. This engine was installed in 300SDLs. It had some issues with the trap oxidizer which caused head gasket failures.The 6 cyl never was not as popular as the 5 cyl. Although the 5 cyl required frequent valve adjustments which the 6 cyl did not.

    Like 2

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