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WARNING: Long post.

What a ride it has been. It's taken me about two months to get my hands on this car and we finally picked it up this past Saturday. Two months ago I was vacationing out West, doing the National Park tour, having a good time and being without internet when we finally made a stop in Moab. I pulled out my phone to check my messages while filling up our rental Jeep (terrible car) and had gotten a text from my uncle who is the lead mechanic at German Auto Sales and Service down here in Atlanta. He had given me a lead on a 1980 300D that was for sale. The only details were it's all original, low miles, pretty clean, and a one owner. The only catch was it had a lot of sentimental value and they were looking for the right owner and when they found that right owner, they would let it go for cheap. I tried to put it in the back of my mind since I was on vacation. But I couldn't. I fell asleep that night with a heart rate higher than usual out of sheer excitement. I dreamed of W123s that night.

When I flew back into Atlanta, the first thing I did was give my uncle a call for more information on the car. He had been working on it since the '80s and last saw it six months ago. The information he gave me got me even more excited about it. It was owned by a little old lady named Winona who was a sweet woman and weighed no more than 100 pounds (in my head I converted this into non-dilapidated seats) and looked after the car really well. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2009 and the car has been with her daughter since. He said it was a nice one and he would buy it if he had room at this house. I'm adding in these details, because I love hearing about the car's past and its previous caretakers. I'm sure like a lot of you, I'm of the opinion that cars are almost sentient--a good car will radiate with personality and character and at times feels almost alive. A car's story adds to that.

Knowing that my uncle's hands have been all over the car (he's an incredible old Mercedes mechanic), I was feeling even more confident in the car. I finally got the family's phone number in hand and was going to give them a cold call. The phone rang once. Twice. I got to the answering machine and left a heartfelt message expressing interest in the car and its story. The next day I got a call back from the daughter's husband. I'm tremendously passionate about these old Mercedes and I wanted to show the family that in the way I asked questions and talked about cars. The husband, Drew, and I clicked within the first minute of our phone call. He has owned a ton of Mercedes and we just chatted about cars, talked about how great the 560SEC is (he owned one and I have one), I asked about the car and its history and listened intently. I couldn't have had a more interesting phone call and learned that the 300D had no rust and was a central Georgia car its entire life. Winona, the original owner, bought it from Atlanta Classic Cars and had lived down in Macon. It had been garage kept with the original German lambskin seat covers over the MB Tex. The body was in good shape, original paint, 185,000 miles, and had been converted to r134a about 15 years ago, and had an Alpine system installed with an eight CD changer in the rear about 20 years ago. It was all sounding promising. After chatting for a little bit, I got the feeling Drew took a liking to me. The question had to be asked. "So, how much were you looking to get out of it?"

"I just want to get it out of the garage!" he said.

I asked for a ballpark, because I'm interested in it and I was looking for a car that I can love and take care of after my Euro W116 350SE bit the dust. He said nothing north of $4,000 and was going to talk to his wife and he'd get back to me. We both hung up and I was hoping I didn't blow the "interview." About an hour later after torturing myself on Bring A Trailer looking at W123s, he called me back.

"How does $2,500 sound?"

I agreed pending it was as described. I couldn't explain how excited I was that they had chosen me to take the torch and care for their precious little W123. About a month later, my brother, my girlfriend, and I are tearing down to Macon in my 560SEC with an envelope of money and dreams as big as the sky. It's been on our bucket list since we first met to own a W123 diesel. We were hoping today would be the day we could check it off. We found the house and creep up into the driveway. I didn't see it out so I assumed it was in the garage. Its trunk came into view first. I immediately saw the flawless bright-work and pristine white reverse lights unmarred from UV damage. You know that feeling you get when you have been hunting for a used car for awhile and you lay eyes on a car that sounded good in the ad, but when you see it in person, it just... pops? In your gut, you get the feeling right away that it's the one? I got that feeling here. The car was dirty and needed a wash, cutter, and polish, but standing next to the car, looking and smelling it, just being in its presence, you can feel it was a healthy car. This was the first time I had driven a distance to see a car without having any pictures of it, just going off its descriptions from people who have seen it and owned it. I'm usually particular about my cars and the parameters it has to meet, but I was flying off a gut feeling on this one. Over the phone, Drew felt trustworthy and transparent about the car. My sixth-sense was giving me good vibes. I'm glad I trusted him.

He gave me the keys and told me to start it up. They had put a Genuine Mercedes battery in the car a couple of weeks ago, so the car glowed from a stone cold engine for about three seconds and tore to life immediately. The engine felt SO healthy and happily clattered away. The interior had that clean, sweet MB Tex smell to it. It was the cliche old lady car everyone talks about. Initial test drive: feels like it needs ballpoints and the converted A/C doesn't work. Fans only blow on defrost (evil servo issue?). Rear windows stutter really badly when going up/down. Wood on glove box had peeled off on one side of the latch--needed new adhesive. Door stops are kaput. Other than those issues, the car was great. The car had fresh Michelin Defenders wrapped on the original bundt wheels. With some elbow grease (and potentially a lot of money for the A/C), the car is going to be fantastic. We made the deal and I assured Winona's daughter I'm going to take care of her car and I'd like to stay in touch to send pictures of the car on occasion to show them she's doing well. Before we parted ways, I asked if the 300D had a name. Winona had named her Folly. I asked why and she said, "My mom had always had used cars before this that kept breaking. She wanted something indestructible, so in 1980 she spent an exorbitant $25,000 on this car and said it was her folly."

So this rambling post is dedicated to the family that took good care of Folly for the first 40 years of ownership and choosing me as her new caretaker. I'll make you proud.
 

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That is a great story and sounds like a great find. I have a similar story about my W123 find once it is delivered vis shipper from Colorado and once I have proper pictures to go along with it like you.
 

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How did I come to be the owner of this 1985 300CD? Having owned a W201, 2 W124s and a W126 300SD I had read and heard so much about the W123 cars that I knew this would be the next Benz for me. I knew right from the start that it would have to be the coupe body style. I wanted something a bit more unique I guess and I really liked the lines of the coupe over the sedan, but I hadn't exclude the 280CE. My preference would be the turbo diesel variant, but condition would be the ultimate deciding factor.

I searched Craigslist, Ebay, Bring a Trailer, Auto Trader Classic, Car Gurus, and everything in between. I am in New England and was concentrating on cars from the Southwest, California, the Northwest and anywhere rust would be less of an issue. I soon learned the coupes weren't nearly as plentiful as the sedans and settled in for a long wait for just the right car. My budget wouldn't allow for a 20k plus car nor would I have to settle for a few thousand dollar car with lots of needs. I searched at least once a day for W123, 300CD, 280CE, etc and then one day I randomly searched Mercedes Diesel and up popped this car on Craigslist in Colorado Springs. It was in Colorado, so not as big of a rust issue, advertised as a two owner with 177,000 miles in Nautical Blue Metallic. The pictures did a horrible job of presenting the car, but my forensic eye spotted the telltale signs of a well cared for car that had lead an easy life. The Zebrano wood didn't show a single crack and the dash looked nice, the taillights weren't all faded and discolored, the red hazard switch was still bright red, the leather seats weren't all torn (except the top of the back seat), the chrome was pristine and shiny, and the engine bits still showed off their cadmium/anodized coating without corrosion. Even the decals on the front clip were present.

I had a feeling this may be a hidden gem. I Emailed the seller looking for more information on the condition of the car and things didn't get any easier. He didn't respond to Emails and then went out of town for a week not leaving me with a sense that he really cared if he sold the car. Finally we made contact via phone and I learned the car was originally purchased in Colorado Springs by a LTC in the Air Force. The seller, Barry, bought it when it had just 31,000 miles on the odometer. Barry told me that the LTC stored the car when he was assigned overseas. Barry also told me it was always a third car for he and his wife and that it had always been garaged when not in use. I got a sense from the seller that he was an older gentleman by his stating that he wasn't good on computers and he didn't text. I had a good feeling about the car and offered to pay his full asking price site unseen. I wired him the money and a deal was struck. He sent me the title and all the original owners manuals and to my surprise, even the original window sticker. I arraigned to have the car shipped from Colorado to Massachusetts. The car arrived on 7/3/2019 and was everything I expected and more.

The car will get a very thorough detailing inside, the paint will be hand washed, clay barred and a good coat of carnuba wax put on. All the fluids changed if nothing more than to establish a base-line and probably a new water pump, the hoses and belts look new. The suspension bits will get a good looking over and anything perished replaced. I'd also like to swap in an original Becker radio, but that is low on the priorities for now. The passenger's rear window doesn't like to go all the way down and I suspect the regulator piece that bends on these car is the culprit, Driver's works fine. I'll more than likely replace it with the OEM MB upgraded/reinforced one if I can't reinforce it myself. While not inexpensive, what point is owning a pillar-less coupe if those rear windows don't function properly?

I'll document my preservation of this great piece of automotive history for others to enjoy.
 

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Started life as an 82 with a rusty body and a tired old interior. It's wearing a 79 Toyota Truck as a hat, also sporting an OM606. The car in the rear is my W116 300SD.
 

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