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1998 Mercede E300 Turbo Diesel with 58,400 miles
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25 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I'm new to this MB stuff and accidentally fell into this idea of purchasing a 1987 300D turbo diesel. I currently have a 2011 VW Golf TDI but want to get out of it for financial reasons. I thought it would be fun to get an older MB diesel. Am I crazy? The one I'm going to look at has 37,500 miles on it and according to this owner who bought it from an old lady in Florida and drove it for a year, is mint, needs nothing. While this might be well and good and the pictures he sent seem to support that it is all there, it's still 25 years old and old things deteriorate. He is asking $14,500 for it. Is this a good car to consider as an everyday car and what is the value of such a car. Would you folks help guide me please? My wife is pissed that I'm even considering this.
 

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Cruise Control
'87 300TD/'90 300D/'94 Quattro/'89 Vanagon TDI/'01 EV Weekender VR6
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52,233 Posts
It could be an absolutely fabulous car, and if you were to just sit on it as a future collector, it may pay off in a decade or two. That was a one year only car with I believe less than 3k brought into North America.

On the other hand, if you plan on driving the car, then you are opening up a world of hurt my friend. Cars deteriorate both by chronological age and mileage, and most of the stuff that gets beat up by the latter is also prone to suffer from the former. The rubber bits, seals and the like will all need to be gone through, even though it has so few miles. If you're prepared to throw a few thousand in preventive upkeep in preparations for putting it back onto the road as a daily driver, then you may very well have the key to unending happiness...but if not, then you will find that life can be cruel.

Post pics if you have them. I think we'd all love to see a pristine low mileage version of this rare highly desirable car.
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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17,384 Posts
The '87 300TD are excellent cars, but you should be aware of a few things. The engine has a bit of a troubled past. First off, there was a recall back when the cars were new due to disintegration of the oxidizer traps which usually resulted in massive turbo and engine damage.

Most cars were recalled, but not all. The best way to tell if the recall was done is to look under the hood. IF you see a football looking device by the turbo, then the car was NOT recalled. The recall consisted of a whole new exhaust system which eliminated the football and a new turbo and in most cases a whole new engine as well.

Second Achille's heel is the cylinder head. The original head (head #14) was prone to cracking. The cracking can be minimized and almost avoided IF the owner was gentle on the turbo. That means idle the engine at startup before driving away, and most importantly idle for at least 90 seconds prior to shutting down the engine.

The updated head (#22) does not have this issue, but does not take kind to abuse either.

It is critical you use genuine MB coolant or Zerex G-5 mixed 50/50 with distilled water. Nothing else.

Based on the age of the car it WILL need things and as it sits I can assure it needs a few things even though I have never seen the car. I bought my '95 diesel with less than 50K and it needed quite a few things. Some of these things, which apply to the '87 as well, is the condition of the steering and suspension components. The rubber bits, even at such low mileage, are likely due for replacement.

Another thing is the AC evaporator. It is a HUGE job, and they ALL go bad. Make replacement part of the purchase. I did, along with the suspension & steering components overhaul.

I think the price is a bit optimistic too. I paid $12K in 2008. I don't think you should pay more than $10K top, $12K IF they address the issues mentioned especially the evaporator.
 
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