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1999 C280
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Discussion Starter #1
The family is growing and I just sold my '99 C Class to get my wife a new Passat wagon. I'm left with my Lexus ES as my daily driver, but I can't be w/o a Benz for too long (don't know what it is, but there's just something about them). I was originally looking to sell the Lexus as well and go to a 94-95 E320, but I think I am going to keep the ES as my daily driver and get something to drive on the weekends. I think that the late 60's through the mid 80's were the best years for MB as far as styling, build quality, and reliability. I am looking at the W123 Benz as my first choice option.

I was thinking about a 280CE or 300CD (although if I could find a nice 4 door in black I'd jump on it.) I'm having trouble deciding if I want a gas engine or a diesel engine. I have some questions about both.

Are the gas much more "peppy" than the diesels? It seems to me that a Coupe should have some sportiness to it. How does the 280 gas engine compare to the 300 diesel? I like the thought of the bulletproof Mercedes diesel for longetivity, as well as the thought that I could run on some of the bio-diesel blends that have popped up in some local stations. Also I know that there are some non-turbo diesels - how do these stack up compared to the turbo version?

From a mechanical standpoint, are the diesel engines fairly easy to work on for a DIYer (I have never messed w/ diesel engines before) What should I look for in a used W123 (gas or diesel)? I realize that there are other condition factors, but is there a mileage limit you would not exceed in purchasing one (gas vs. diesel)?
 

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1999 C280
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Discussion Starter #2
No replies - I guess gas & diesel are the same.


Seriously, if anyone has any pointers/advice for the diesels please let me know. I'm going to look at/drive an 84 300CD tomorrow. The guy is asking $4000 w/ 200K miles (seems a bit high priced for the mileage) At that point I'll have some real experience with it as far as power, but any advice would be appreciated.
 

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1994 E300 Diesel
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36 Posts
I don't think we ever got the diesel here in Aus - so I'm driving the 280CE. I wouldn't say that the 2.8 litre engine is overly "peppy" but it does what you need at a respectable rate.

Mine has done 317,000 kilometres with no appreciable signs of problems - I do over 40,000 kilometres per year 160km round trip to work. My opinion is that the 280CE is perfect for the highway - just cruises along (I have cruise control) with no signs of strain at 110kph.

The only experience with diesel engines is with my Ferguson FE35 4 cylinder diesel tractor built in 1950, its only young so I couldn't comment on its longevity [;)]
 

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There are pros and cons to both. Gas models will be quicker than the diesel, especially the euro models which had more horsepower. The gas models do have more engine electronics to go wrong and are harder on fuel mileage. The diesels are slower but the engines last longer than the gas, even up to 300,000 miles or more. They have better fuel economy as well, but with diesel priced higher than gas lately, that is probably a wash. Up to 1981, the diesels were normally aspirated. In 1982 a turbo was added for better acceleration. Newer style pencil glow plugs were added to the diesel in mid-1980. Personally I prefer the non-turbo (my need for speed is not high) because of the lessor complexity, but the turbos are equally as good, and better power-wise. And gas cars start better in cold weather, below freezing, when a diesel may need the engine heater plugged in.

Body-wise, the the 280CE and 300CD are identical, though the climate control was updated in 1981 and a few other minor changes were made in 1982. Mechanical parts are the same as a sedan (read plentiful and cheap), and from the dash forward are identical. Check the climate control for operation, a weak point in these cars. They can cost a few hundred dollars to repair. The cruise contol often doesn't work as well, which normally requires a $200 to $300 rebuild of the amplifier.

Either way you go, both models are good. If speed is top on your list, go for the 280CE.
 

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1990 300SE, 1983 300D
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First off, bad move selling the C for a VW Wagon. VW's are terrible. Im not just saying that cause I like Mercedes, but they have alot of problems. Electrical. There garbage. My friend has a 02 Jetta and all he has is problems with that car. He never abused it, and its a piece of crap. Other people I know who have VW's hate it, and wish they could return it. All Ive been hearing are bad things about them.

As for the Gas and Diesel thing, I would go with the Diesel. I never drove a gas Coupe. I think my Diesel is quick. It gets to 60 pretty fast. If you dont mind the noise, get a Diesel.

I wouldent go past 200k without service records (for diesel) and gas mabye 125k without service records.
 

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1991 300 SE
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Because the diesels are so simple and rugged they are easier to live with than the gas engines and you’ll also be more likely to find one in good condition. The M110s are awesome engines but you must be careful to find one that was well maintained.
 

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This might be off topic, but does anyone know why Diesels cost more than the 93 grade gasoline? It's ridiculous. I remembered back in the days when it was 99 cents [:)]
 

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W-1-2-3 Go!
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Here in CA I'm sure it's the emission laws and something to do with it. Just got 10.xx gallons a while ago and cost me $2.49/gallon[xx(]

In the Philippines I think diesel is as cheap as $1.50, converted...(PhP16.50/liter). Maybe a bit higher for the metropolis...
 

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1999 C280
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Discussion Starter #9
1985 300CD - 3/2/2005 6:52 PM

First off, bad move selling the C for a VW Wagon. VW's are terrible. Im not just saying that cause I like Mercedes, but they have alot of problems. Electrical. There garbage. My friend has a 02 Jetta and all he has is problems with that car. He never abused it, and its a piece of crap. Other people I know who have VW's hate it, and wish they could return it. All Ive been hearing are bad things about them.
The C was just too small so it had to go regardless. I didn't want to replace it with a SUV, and only Subaru and the europeans still make wagons. What we really wanted was a W124 wagon, but I couldn't find anything that made sense price or mileage wise in the three months that we were looking for a new car. I really like the W210 wagons as well, but I have heard from several MB mechanics that they aren't quite as reliable as the 124s. That aside I had quite a few electrical issues with the C class when I had it (MAF sensor 2X, wiring harness, climate control head unit, stereo head unit, etc.), but fortunately they were all covered under warranty. Everything else on that car was bulletproof though.

Personally I don't think the Germans can make an electrical system worth a S#!t anyway - at least when compared to the Japs. (Other than a new alternator and headlight bulbs, I have never had a problem with anything electrical on my ES in the 8 years I've owned it.) It wasn't until the redesign of the C Class after 2000 that Mercedes fully got away from the vacuum systems they used for years, so they are somewhat behind in the electrical arena. For that reason alone I wouldn't consider buying a Mercedes made after 2000 (OK, maybe a W210). (Look at Consumer Reports and all new Mercedes models have a black circle under electrical systems.) I'm certainly not claiming that VW is better or more reliable than Mercedes, but I just couldn't justify the price difference given Mercedes recent slip in reliability.

I've heard about the VW issues as well, but we've had really good luck w/ the Passat so far. I had the cam seals replaced recently (under warranty), but so far that's it. Ours didn't have the bad ignition coil isues that the earlier models faced. I also purchased a very comprehensive aftermarket warranty that will cover all electrical system probems right down to the wiring harness through 100K miles.

I have heard the same nightmare stories from Jetta owners. All of the research I did before buying the Passat indicated that most of VWs reliability issues are in the Jetta and Golf/GTI models. Go figure since all Jetta sedans are made in Mexico and I think the Golf/GTI's sold in the US are coming from Brazil.
 

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1989 W201.029/M103 3.0
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Petroleum engines are more efficient and easier to work on than a comparable diesel motor. Due to their limited operating range and necessarily sturdy design, many diesel engines have a greater initial longevity however.
A well engineered, turbo diesel motor is tolerable when stacked against a naturally aspirated petrol engine, but then turbo the petrol engine...

I dunno, if you live in the Sahara and there aren't a lot of mechanics or parts around, maybe you'd prefer the diesel. There was certainly a market for them in Europe when Mercedes started putting them out. Or maybe you just like the sound. It's a truck, it's a car, if it could juggle you could put it in a circus.

You *can* engineer a nice performing diesel if you want respectable performance, spend a few hundred grand and there's an aftermarket Merc diesel option capable of 300km/h I hear. If you want to sit it in the driveway and forgetaboutit too they're good value.
But if you keep any kind of maintainence schedule the 2.8 starts off with respectable performance and responds immediately to a little aftermarket attention.

Don't forget they used to race high performance sixes from all the top Euro manufacturers in 60's GP, that's where the 70's Merc, Aston Martin and other sixes were bred.

I'm sorry, but every 300D I've driven was a total slug and I could think of things I'd much rather do with one than put a turbo on it [:D]
Some people around here seem to like 'em but.
 

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83 300d turbo, 79 c123 AMG
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I was reading in the paper that diesel is expensive right now because apparently one of the oils or something used in it has been needed back east and in europe so here in the west california is producing the bulk of the diesel and washington and oregon are buying it up so because of the tight supply the prices are up. They are supposed to be down in a few weeks when production catches up in the rest of the country.
 

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2017 Police Interceptor Utility, 2017 Police Interceptor Sedan
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Hi,

Welcome to the club. I presently own a 1979 280E in navy blue with 62K miles on it. I absolutely adore that car! Plenty peppy, built like a tank and looks great. Having said that, I should mention that it took me over 5 years to find one in that condition with miles that low. I should also mention that the other members are unfortunately right about the climate control and cruise control issues. I have now fixed both for about $400. I paid $6000 for the car. I would say look around and you might see a nice one some place. Budget another $1000 on top of whatever you pay for the car for the various little things that are always going to be wrong with a two-decade-old car.

I drive a diesel truck at work (FedEx). They are bulletproof (we have numerous trucks with 300K plus), but the noise does get to me.

Hope this helps.
 

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1980 280e
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The gas engines are faster than the diesel engines, but with a little bit of tweaking a turbo diesel engine will be almost as quick as a US version 280e, and get much better gas mileage.
My 280e is the euro version and it has over 300,000 miles and pulls OK for 185hp, would definately out run any diesel, it gets OK gas mileage for a 6 cylinder (has the k jetronic that was used in the porsche 911), its starting to show it age thou(ie. drips oil, has valve ticking, needs timing chain and other maintenance that will probably be more than the cars worth at a shop), the tranny shifts ok and the rearend is fairly tight, as longevity is concerned this engine will probably go to 400,000-450,000 miles as long as I don't hot rod it. Its not to embarassing to drive and can smoke any 6 cylinder suv or truck, there arn't to many people on this board with a euro 280e thou so you won't get much info about it. They do last along time thou and get OK gas mileage for a 6 cylinder. Any diesel would smoke it (lol) gas mileage wise and maybe get a few hundred thousand more miles out of it.

Edit: Diesels are supposed to have thier oil changed more often which alot of people don't do, if your used to maintaining gas engines a 280e will surprise you with its reliability!
 

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1990 300SE, 1983 300D
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C is a small car. The only thing that happened to my wagon that is electrical, is the left break light keeps on going on. [:(!] Other then that, its been all good. Passat is a nice car, and I wish you good luck (probably going to give you no trouble, my friends just pick out crappy cars)

Like I said before, the Diesel is pretty quick. 123HP is respectable. And you get good gas mileage.
 

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1985 300sd
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vanir - 3/5/2005 6:52 AM

Petroleum engines are more efficient and easier to work on than a comparable diesel motor. Due to their limited operating range and necessarily sturdy design, many diesel engines have a greater initial longevity however.
A well engineered, turbo diesel motor is tolerable when stacked against a naturally aspirated petrol engine, but then turbo the petrol engine...

I dunno, if you live in the Sahara and there aren't a lot of mechanics or parts around, maybe you'd prefer the diesel. There was certainly a market for them in Europe when Mercedes started putting them out. Or maybe you just like the sound. It's a truck, it's a car, if it could juggle you could put it in a circus.

You *can* engineer a nice performing diesel if you want respectable performance, spend a few hundred grand and there's an aftermarket Merc diesel option capable of 300km/h I hear. If you want to sit it in the driveway and forgetaboutit too they're good value.
But if you keep any kind of maintainence schedule the 2.8 starts off with respectable performance and responds immediately to a little aftermarket attention.

Don't forget they used to race high performance sixes from all the top Euro manufacturers in 60's GP, that's where the 70's Merc, Aston Martin and other sixes were bred.

I'm sorry, but every 300D I've driven was a total slug and I could think of things I'd much rather do with one than put a turbo on it [:D]
Some people around here seem to like 'em but.

You have got to be kidding me with that first part about how gasoline engines are more efficient than diesel counterparts. There is a reason that in comparable diesel and gasoline engine powered vehicles the diesel always gets better mileage. Just reading that first sentence indicates to me that this guy has absolutely no clue what he is talking about. You should do some research and come back to us when you get your information straight.
 

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1989 W201.029/M103 3.0
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JR_Rider - 3/8/2005 2:21 PM

You have got to be kidding me with that first part about how gasoline engines are more efficient than diesel counterparts. There is a reason that in comparable diesel and gasoline engine powered vehicles the diesel always gets better mileage. Just reading that first sentence indicates to me that this guy has absolutely no clue what he is talking about. You should do some research and come back to us when you get your information straight.
Diesels have less Volumetric Efficiency to petrol engines, that simple. Check the figures.

Diesels are fuel efficient due to:
a) a very limited operating range (typically a diesel engine never sees past 3000rpm, many not more than 2500rpm).
b) a very significant torque curve (due almost completely to an extreemly high compression ratio, but certain tuning aspects come into play).

Get a 3 litre six petrol engine. Get a 3 litre six diesel engine. Tune them both all you want (in a reasonable sense please...yes I know AMG makes a diesel that can do 300km/h but Porsche makes a petrol one that can do 500). Dyno the pair, make sure you get all the figures. Then get back to me.
Especially check figures like these, right across the engine speeds range:
Mechanical efficiency
Mach number
Volumetric Efficiency
Intake Tuning Pressure
Residual exhaust
and of course power/torque figures.

Regardless of how you emotionally feel about it, pound for pound petrol engines are more efficient than diesels (at least until certain manufacturers detune the living daylights out of them, but we're talking engine types aren't we).
Diesels are designed to pull massive torque figures at large engine capacities using as little fuel as possible. Volumetric efficiency across an accelerating engine range is not how they achieve this.


(psst, JR, if diesel was more efficient an engine than petrol, we'd be using them in preference everywhere from Le Mans to your local racetrack)

[;)]
 

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The 110 motor in the US spec 280e has 142 hp and is peppier than a diesel. They have a low gear diferential gear ratio, and have good acceleration from 50 mph to 90 mpg. The 280e is slow to accelerate from a stop.

The 280e and the 300d have different transmission ratios, and as a result it's easier around town to manually shift the transmission to maintain high RPM's in the 280e. On the 280e top speed in 1st is 29 mpg, in 2nd top speed is 55 mph. By manually shifting from L to S at 40 mph, or shifting from S to D at
55 mph the 280e will get you around town and merging at highway uphill is reasonable.

If most of your driving is in town, than the 280e is more fun to drive around town, but it's not a sports car. At highway speeds above 60 mph, there is nt much difference, and both cars are desinged to be highway cruisers, not peppy sports cars. The wheelbase, and length on the coupe is shorter than the sedan, so in theory, it should handle better.

The european spec 110 has 185 hp and the acceleration with this engine is as it should be, - peppy. About the same as the later 104 motorinstalled in the 300e. Depending on the euro spec car and where you live it could be expensive to pass the emission tests. With the Euro Spec you'll have to purchase some of the replacement parts in Europe or England. The diesels will get better gas mileage, cost less expensive to operate, and diesel engines will last longer than the 110 gasoline. If you don't do the work yourself it will be more difficult to fix an old 280e, since there is big money in the repair of the newer Mercedes, (ones that have the numbers before the letter E280).

When purchasing things to not look for are rust, bad paint, oil leaks, noisy or high idle, poor emissions, low cylinder compression, poor acceleration, any problems with the bosch fuel injection, and flaring transmission shifts. A value job, or upper cylinder rebuild is fairly expensive, the engine should idle smooth and be fairly quiet. The rocker arms?? are rigid, so some noise from the values is acceptable. The climate control is old technology and will probably need to be repaired.

I have a silver 280ce and a 280e as a daily driver and my next driver will either be a metallic blue 280ce or a 300ce.

Good luck.
 

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W-1-2-3 Go!
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I think that what JR meant was that diesel engines have better thermal efficiency. They don't release as much heat as gas engines, and hence use up all the energy they produce. Compared to gas engines, a significant part of the energy they produce turns into heat. That is why diesels idle cold and need to be ran to warm up effectively.

Branshew, if you were to get a diesel engine, there are alot of websites about it. Compared to the gas engines, these diesels are gaining popularity and shouldn't be overlooked. They should be easier to work on, but might get a bit of getting used to. It seems that the readily available info on gas engines is enough to keep the 280E maintenance more of a breeze, while you might encounter some crosswinds with diesels if you're not familiar.

The thing is, you might have a diesel engine that will last you for ever without ever having to fix it often. These diesels are tough, with a compression ratio significantly greater than gas engines, hence they need to be tough to withstand all that pressure. You can easily get 200,000 miles off a diesel engine without major repairs.

It's true that gas engines can be more efficient, produce more power, and be more peppier in many ways, but they require more maintenance than a diesel engine. That's why the OM61X engines are still used today in various trucks. Their legendary reliability are enough proof that, for commercial and longevity purposes, they will surpass gas engines of similar and comparable sizes.

The turbo will also really help you if you do lots of mountain driving, get into high altitude areas, or when you need that extra boost. In Virginia where I assume you stay, I don't think diesels are priced higher than gasoline as compared to here in California. So you have the advantage of better mileage there and it would save you alot, for more than a hundred thousand miles.

But like stated above, diesels idle cold and might have a hard time starting up in cold weather, as experienced by numerous members here. The solutions have been varying, but they're in here. So a search for them should lead you to kick your diesel engine back to life again.

Just my .02
 

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1985 300sd
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The efficiency I was referring to was the utilization of power produced by the engine. I would not argue that a gasoline engine will produce more power than a diesel engine the exact same size. What I would disagree on is the fact that the gasoline engine is more efficient. The efficiency to which I was referring was th utilization of the energy produced. I was stating that diesels use a greater percentage of the energy which they produce. I don't feel like looking up some evidence to prove this to you, but I am sure some of the other members will chime in.
 

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1991 300 SE
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OK, everyone needs to go to his bookmarks and reread this page so we can get straight on diesel v. gas:

http://www.mbzponton.org/valueadded/technical/diesel.htm
 
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