Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pick Your Poison: 1980, 1986, 1990, 2005 Mercedes-Benz Diesel

Imagine for a minute that you've got about five large to spend on a daily driver.  You need a car that will get you to your destination with minimal fuss, and maximum class, -- and you don't really care about speed.  Forget the used and abused Japanese late models that litter craigslist and instead buy a used Mercedes-Benz with compression ignition.  The only question is, how old?


 If you don't mind driving a car with a few hundred thousand miles you can pick up something like this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300SD W116 offered for $2,990 via craigslist.  It's got a turbo diesel engine, 412k miles and runs strong.



Slightly more modern in appearance, but no less awesome is this 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300SDL W126 offered for $3,900 via craigslist.  The seller mentions that the seats are all leather and not MB Tex, which is probably why the front seats are covered with cheap seat covers -- nothing lasts like MB Tex.


Next up is this little C-Class compact luxury 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190TD W201 offered for $1,500 via craigslist.  This car is an oddball -- it has been imported from Japan and is powered by a 2.5 liter turbo diesel engine that wasn't available on these shores.  Figure out a way to register it, and have the only one on the block.


Lastly we've got this 2005 Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI W211 E-Class offered for $7,900 via craigslist.  This thing has 210 horsepower from the 3.2 liter turbo diesel, which is probably more than all of the preceding cars combined...but with great power comes great complication.

Which heavy fueled Benz do you pick? Comments below.

14 comments:

  1. I'd have to go for the newest available. Drove a 1980-ish turbo diesel once and was nearly killed pulling out on the road. A desperate lack of acceleration. Scared me off diesels for 20 years.

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    1. with the nearest freeway 3 hours away over the mountains, i believe i would go for the W126 - and with the freeway being over the mountains, this car would never get there anyway

      why, when i was a boy, i once tried driving my 380 SEL up to Tahoe - ho ho ho, what a folly! - the low air pressure and steep grades made for some slooooow going - downhill was fine

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    2. There are some things in life I really enjoy.

      There is nothing quite like the feeling of having your foot to the floor of a really slow car going uphill and not noticing anything happening. I find it really fun and start cheering at the car when the speedo starts ticking faster.

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  2. Buy the 190d with the 2.5 turbo diesel. Source a Dieselmeken injection pump, bolt on a holset turbo, intercooler and start roasting tires...no brainer

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  3. Those 190Ds were available here; I remember looking at a few on CL around 10 years ago. Went with a W123 300TD wagon instead (as Vince can remember I'm sure).

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    Replies
    1. Err, I suppose you were referring to the fact that the US market cars were NA, and this one above haz turbo. Got it.

      EXCEPT: in 1987 they did export the 190D 2.5 Turbo to the US. One year only. Here's one in Jewish Racing Gold:

      190D 2.5 Turboooo

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    2. Yes, the 2.5td is extremely hard to find in the 190. My buddy had one in poor shape and it was pretty fun in stock form. The torque from that engine gets the car moving very easily. The really hot set up would be to get a om605 turbo from europe. It is the 4 valve 5 cylinder diesel that is very similar to the om606.

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  4. I looked really closely at one of those E320 CDI's last year when shopping for a new daily. Apparently a common problem is soot build up in the intake and EGR valve, with replacement being the only solution for several thousand dollars. That was enough to scare me off which is a bummer because it seems like a great car otherwise.

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  5. these dont start when its really cold out.

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    Replies
    1. My old MB diesel started in 0 degree weather every time. Just give it two rounds of the glow plugs.

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  6. I'm a sucker for the late-80's S class. I saw a two of them in my local CraigsList last night and I'm sorely tempted to get one (except I really don't need another car, plus my wife would probably flip out).

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  7. Everyone says these are so slow. If properly maintained, with VALVES ADJUSTED to specs, they are a pleasure to drive. I have had several.

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    1. i'm sure my valves were not to spec - but i only took it up the hill that one time - 98% of of its life (while i had it) was lived within half a mile of the ocean, and 10 feet above sea level

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  8. A diesel Mercedes with a manual transmission has excellent 0 to 12mph acceleration. You rev the engine, dump the clutch, and the bigass flywheel gets the tires spinning at 12mph and the car catches up pretty soon.

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