1981 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300 SD 3.0 from North America


One word... WOW


First, let me tell you since day one I have been learning about this car and I'm constantly being amazed.

1. The transmission failed when backing up with the turbo making boost. I think it was inherent that it would break, given how fast I was going in reverse. Never do that and let the boost kick in and let off, you put undue strain on the transmission and you will break the clutch disks as I did. They are only made out of like a fiber material. When the transmission failed I could only get going once it rolled out at about 2 MPH and then it would be fine. But you have to stop in traffic and that is a bad thing, since you cannot drive that way.

2. Windshield wiper system motor arm broke and needed replacing motor and arm.

3. Window motors failed and needed replacing.

4. Seat motor cables needed replacing to make the seats function.

5. Heat/AC module needed fixing and I soldered the circuits and it worked, have to do it again.

6. AC pump needs replacing since the clutch mechanism on the AC broke a bolt and failed.

7. Small other things like rear window upper valance got soaked and sagged due to my stupidness of not taking 5 feet of snow off of roof in the winter, did not buckle the roof on a permanent basis, but torqued the rear window enough with pressure to let water in on the side. I rubber sealed it and it is fine to date.

8. Radio Becker/Mexico broke for cassette, small spring came off, who listen to tapes, will get an Alpine CD stacker player next.

9. Rear shock came loose and ripped mount on bottom where it bolts to lower swing arm. I MIG welded and fixed it.

10. Besides, tires, valve adjustments, front end alignments, exhaust system components, this is one fine car I plan on keeping for a long time. She needs a little body work, but you have to catch it early enough so it does not go deeper.

General Comments:

Overall... I highly recommend the 1981 SD MBZ over all diesel turbo's. Especially the 1981, since that is the only year I know of with the aluminum hood and rear deck. Mine is going to be converted to a hydrogen fuel cell assist system... I like the idea of getting 60 or more MPG. I might even go diesel electric HHO assist.

The car out handles most cars out there, and for its size that is quite amazing.

Stay away from 300 SDL's and 350 SD and SDL's unless you are a mechanic and replace the piston rods.

If you want to go one step up, and up is what I say... Get a smaller turbo diesel with the 6 cylinder... not the big 350 SD models.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th November, 2008

1981 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300 SD 3.0 turbo diesel from North America


Reliable, Very Safe, And is a luxury car on a Cavalier budget


The drivers window motor, and a small unit on the top drivers side fire wall. It has two small hoses coming out of it. One goes to the intake manifold. I found that one of the hoses had a crack. So I replaced the hose. Other than that, only regular things like shocks and brakes. It also leeks a little oil.

General Comments:

When I first got the car it was slow and shifted hard. I found that one of the hoses on the unit on the fire wall had a crack. So I replaced the hose. When I went for a test drive, it was a different car. Before I would just get in and put the pedal to the floor and go. You can't do that now. The car is 3-4 times faster, and shifts smoothly. How you can tell if you have the same problem I had, is to hold the pedal to the floor from a stop. You should feel the turbo kick in at about 2000-2500 RPM. It should set you back in your seat. Not like a 5.0 Mustang, put you should feel it. Also before I fixed the hose and was on the highway I had to keep the pedal to the floor to keep the car going 100 Kph "or 60 Mph" up a hill. Now you only need to push down a little more to keep you speed up. Went I found this out I went right to my friends house. He has a 86 Mercedes 300 CD with the same problem. Very slow... So we checked out the hoses on his unit. The hoses were fine so we replaced the unit with mine and BANG!!! He could not believe he drove his car for almost 5 years like that. When it had the ability to be so must faster. Or at least faster then a dump truck.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th July, 2005

24th Jul 2009, 20:43


I am looking at buying an 81 MB 300sd and know that it is a bit slow, but wondered what the unit was that the hose was replaced on. Curious if others have experienced this condition and what their results have been. I appreciate any info forwarded my way. bayshew34@yahoo.com