23rd Apr 2011, 16:10

I currently own 4 Mercedes vehicles, of which the 1987 SDL is one of two diesels (the SDL was a replacement purchase of a 1982 300SD that had 300k on it when sold). I have owned the SDL since 2002. Last week we took it on a 2100 mile road trip that took the odometer over the 400k mark. Fuel consumption was 24mpg over the trip, with much of the driving at speeds of 70 to 80 mph.

It suffered the cracked head problem about 4 years ago, has had the A/C compressor replaced, suspension work as needed, and I have replaced the front seats with new pads and new leather.

Soon it will be repainted as the clear coat is failing.

Were it not for the seeping main front crank seal, which will be replaced soon, the engine would consume no oil between changes. I change the oil on about a 8k to 10k interval, using Mobil-1 15w30 or 10w40 with filter change at 5k miles.

All other fluids and filters get serviced regularly.

This automobile is a great highway cruiser, economical to maintain, highly reliable and becoming very rare.

I think I'll keep mine for another 5 or more years.

3rd Jun 2011, 07:02

I have owned a 1987 300SDL since October of 2009. I can assuredly say that this is the nicest car that I have ever owned. It cruises like a living room sofa, but still handles (albeit with some body roll) better than most cars on the road (try taking that exit ramp at 50+ mph in your little Toyota Corolla...).

It has had its issues, yes, but once you fix them, it is like new again. There are no signs of fatigue in the body, etc. It is not subject to the creaks and groans of an aging American car.

Are there quieter cars out there? Of course. Faster? Yes, but none that possess the overall solid feel, comfort fuel economy (30+ without A/C on the highway), and pride of the big-body W126 Benz.

My wife's 98 E430 is definitely faster, and handles like it is on rails, but I'll take my greaser over hers any day!

There is a feeling that can't be described when driving one of these vehicles. It brings back the days when things were made well "just because". I feel privileged to drive this fine piece of automotive engineering, and marvel at its advanced features. The 4-wheel ABS brakes halt this beast in no time flat without any adverse side affects. The feeling of driving around in a vault also conveys a sense of security as well. I had wanted a Benz diesel for years. I finally purchased one, and I have not regretted it for a minute! (BTW, the odometer just broke 204,000 and it is still going strong!).

17th Jul 2012, 18:45

I got an owners manual from TMC Publications for 50 bucks. You have to call them.

18th Jul 2012, 12:49

These were lovely vehicles. One of the best styled cars ever made... somehow M-B integrated their bumpers in the 1980's better than most makes. I would love to own one, but I can't afford even the maintenance. From the people I know who've had them, they are pretty reliable. I've heard nothing but good from actual owners.

The interior was far ahead of its time, and is still being copied.

18th Apr 2013, 20:03

I live in Waldorf and own a 1986 300 SDL. It has 378K miles. These cars want to be driven daily and on long trips, say 500-800 miles. Make sure you change the oil and filter every 3-4K miles. You can keep the injectors clean by adding a quart of transmission fuel several times a year. These cars sold for $55/56K back then. Seems like I remember seeing on the Internet that MB sold approximately 3,500-5,000 of these cars in both years in the US during 86/87. The 300 SDL was discontinued in 1988 and returned in 1990 and 91 as the 350 SDL. If you search the web for the 350 SDL, you will find that this was the worst diesel ever made by MB. There are people who would pay $15-18K, or even more for your car.

10th Mar 2015, 23:17

I have owned my SDL for close to the time you have had yours. My car now has 243,305 or there about miles. Many people have asked if I would sell this automobile, and my answer is a big no.

I am a retired mechanic with more than thirty five years experience, and handle most all problems for myself. This I guess a person might call lucky me.

Now your question about mileage. To get a true reading on mileage on diesels, you need to do the checks with cold tanks of fuel. By this I mean that you need to top off the tank at a time when the car has sat long enough for the fuel in the tank to become cool. Reason: the diesel fuel return lines send hot unused fuel from the injectors back to the tank, causing the tank fuel to become hot and expand. You know what can happen taking the cap off a full tank in the summer. When you add fuel to expanded fuel, you get to put less fuel in than what the tank would take if it were cool. That is not so good for getting the true mileage or as close as one can using this simple type test. This cool tank thing is to be done before the trip or test, and the final fill after the trip or test.

For mileage, 22 MPG - 23 city and 25 - 27 MPG highway, is the best I have ever gotten. This seems to be in the ball park with Mercedes, and all the information I can find with correct knowledge of this car. It gets me in sort of a foul mood when I see all the bull about 35-45 MPG, and so on.

I hope this can help you get the true facts of what you asked.

11th Mar 2015, 15:41

I owned this model and a 450SL Roadster in the early 90s. Not being mechanically inclined is a big factor in owning these cars. If you aren't like I was, pass on. I did oil changes on the gas 450, and put a Crutchfield stereo kit in it. With the turbo diesel, I had the dealer hose me. The A/C went and that was a painful bill. It also was slow to gather speed. Surprisingly the 450 was too. It was better as a high speed cruiser. They are solid though.

I went to Acuras for a while afterwards, the best being the Legend. The TL Type S was worse with transmission failures with added age; unless you are a mechanic, I would pass.

Try the new Audi sedans or Q5 on new offerings. A great alternative.