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1987 300TD - 1981 300D - 1990 190E 2.6 (Non Running for Sale) - 1993 190E 2.3
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285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok, usually I am over in the w124 Forums with my 1987 300TD but....

I have been eyeballing this old Mercedes across from a friends house for a couple years. I finally went over today and inquired. here is the scoop:

1981 300D - Tan, showing 47k on the speedometer (I think) but he said it was most likely 247k. Either way at least 200k. His dad owned it first and took great car of it, then he had it and took care of it. Then his son got a a hold of it and didn't treat it as well. He volunteered that info. He drove it every once in a while and it was fine until a belt broke. He intended on fixing that, but never got around to it and it sat for a year or 2. He purchased a new battery and tried to start it a year or less ago to no avail. The interior is cloth and is pretty clean. Dash and instruments all look fine trunk area is great. No rusting underneath. Shocks seemed pretty solid. Paint is worn all over, but from neglect in the past 5 years of just sitting in the sun. Located in Florida. I have been wanting to get an old 123 to work on and later convert to a 2 tank veggie car. I am am pretty Mercedes savvy (thanks to this Forum) and very resourceful.



So my question is:

Do you think it is worth getting involved with?
What do you think it is worth as a project car?
 

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'73 450SL, '83 300CD, '01 E320 4matic
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2,485 Posts
Honestly... my 81 300D is the biggest pain in the ass I've ever owned.

It's a nice car, but 81 seems to be a bad year. Member IQ678 has one... He has had better luck with it.

I've had nothing but trouble with the transmission. 81 is a vacuum control only transmission. No bowden cable to adjust. I've gotten mine to shift OK, and apparently that's lucky. It's much harder to get shifting correctly than any other year.

Other members who have had 81s have PVT'ed me and also replied to some of my threads with horror stories about the transmission. The best solution for the transmission is to replace it with a later model or one that has a pedal for the left foot. I'm going to upgrade the entire engine/trans a few years this summer. That's the best fix for this car.

If it's cheap and runs and drives well, pick it up. If it's showing signs of shifting weird, run far, far away unless it's very cheap. A rust free body is worth something.
 

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1981 Mercedes 300D
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1,252 Posts
I'd go for it if the price is right, it runs/drives well, and the body is truly rust-free.

Aaron is right - the '81 transmission is kinda weird being vacuum-only. It is a pain to get adjusted correctly, and it is absolutely picky about vacuum leaks. Fortunately for me, it was just a matter of replacing old rubber vacuum hoses and the vacuum valves on the top of the valve cover - and my transmission started shifting well.

'81 was kind of a transition year...you'll find some oddities with it - but I wouldn't let that scare me (I am a mechanic though...so not a whole lot really does scare me). If the body is in decent shape, it's not really all that hard to swap in a different engine/transmission from a different year. Rust-free w123s are starting to get harder to come by...
 

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1987 300TD - 1981 300D - 1990 190E 2.6 (Non Running for Sale) - 1993 190E 2.3
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285 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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