I had an '84 300D when I moved from Massachusetts in 1993. I sold it. I have since lived in Florida and now California. I am returning the Mass this year (2009) with a '300SD I have owned for about 9 months. Two owners (1st for 24 years), with 255,000 miles on it. A California car that looks like new. (Mass could change that. Hence, I'll buy a winter "beater") ). Today a MB shop did a full service and check of all systems. It passed with all but a new radiator expansion tank cap and insufficient anti-freeze content. Both rectified.
Gold with brown leather (springy seats) beauty.
It has what cars now lack. STYLE. Not the fart in a thunderstorm kind of style, but good old fashioned James Bond in a tux style.
Forget the new style-ish cars. I had a new Range Rover in '05. It was...nice, but I sold it and now have just the Benz. The 300SD has something else. At 70mph and up it flies. It is a slow to get going but so am I. It is classy. (I wish I was still). It still polishes up like a new pin and still turns heads. In short, like Jamie Lee Curtis, it is still beautiful... more so than 20 years ago.
It is like a good fountain pen, or a pair of old leather shoes that still perform as intended. Keep the ink fresh and the Kiwi polish up and they won't let you down.
Oil. Change it every 3000 or so. Keep the air filter clean. Keep the fuel filter changes up. Automatic transmission fluid in the fuel tank (1 quart every 5 tank fulls is what I do), works. (Massive detergent content. Cleans all components with no rubber seal damage). Lexol the seats, Rain-X the windows and drive it!!! The "MB-Tex" seats are great if you don't like leather, so don't dismiss them.
Oh and don't cut corners on tires or shocks. I replaced the shocks. Bilstiens. Tires should have Michelin written on them. This car is heavy and stresses, (if you drive it hard and I do), will determine how quickly it will treat you badly should you dress it with inferior products. I have no interest in these companies, but have made those mistakes myself. I bought cheap shocks, not Bilstiens. Never again.
If you are buying one, cruise control, vacuum door locks and A/C are the weak points. Ensure the tranny shift is smooth (easily adjusted.. LHS of tranny housing. Seek advice). Should you detect any diesel leaks, FIX THEM IMMEDIATELY!!!. Have it checked out.
Love this car and it will treat you well. It is not just a "cheap car", it is not just a "good starter car". It is a Mercedes Benz. If you want a safe car for your kid, it will work admirably. But do not annoy the kid with a 12 second to 60 car without acknowledging its finer attributes to them. Just because you can buy them a tank for 5 grand or so, will not win their hearts. Get them owners club membership (a pittance), have them polish The Star and they may grow to appreciate something more than just a car. If they don't, buy them an Eclipse.
If you respect it, it will look after you.
Now if only I could meet Jamie Lee Curtis...
Just bought an '81 300SD that has been sitting for five years because the previous owner let it run out of diesel and didn't know how to get it re-started, so he just gave up and let it sit... I got it towed to my house and after draining three quarters of a tank of what appeared to be old off road diesel (red), I put in some fresh diesel a new fuel and air filter a fresh battery and "POOF!!!" It now runs like a well oiled Singer sewing machine and I can't wait to drive it. Go Mercedes!!!
Jimmy in Georgia.
I am the 8th Jan reviewer. I got back to Mass, from CA 3 weeks ago without missing a beat and averaging 26 mpg with the car *loaded* with stuff. Diesel was $2.39 in CA and $1.77 in OK. In Mass it is a similar to CA.
The glow plug relay is now intermittent. It is easy to get to and may need replacing, but in my experience so far with these diesels, a good cleaning and/or resoldering cracked joints can usually fix the problem. The relay is a sealed unit, so a little luck might also work.
260,000+ miles and still a head turner!
I hate to sound like everyone else but... The MB 300SD is the car of the century big and drinks fuel like a Corolla with no seats in it. When I drive I like to wear cuff links and a suit. When I "roll up" on clients they ask why a car so old. I say "frugal luxury". Easy to maintain. I keep spare fuel filters and hoses in the dash, for those quick emergency changes (never needed it but its there). My friends Dad had 1 new in 84 I remember everyone always commenting on it. In 84 you couldn't get anything better!
I've owned a MB 300SD for over 15 years. I bought it from a Mercedes mechanic when it had only 150K on it for $4000. Since then I had the suspension replaced, fuel pump replaced, windshield replaced, MB tex new seats done, all synthetic oil in the tranny and all synthetic oil in the engine and all synthetic in differential. Also, the whole tie rod rear axle was replaced.
I have gotten into 2 accidents, once from the rear, and another time I drove into someone else from behind.
All engine mounts have been replaced, and then I drove the can into 3 feet of water and it stalled, costing me $1200 to restore it.
I use Lucas oil treatment at every oil change. My wife wants to THROW this car away, but I just love it. This car just does not DIE!! It drives like anything and gives a good 28 mpg.
The best part is that the car just does not lose much value no matter how long you keep it. I drive 600 miles a week. The feel is solid and safe. I have a Toyota also, but in that I feel I am sitting in a match box.
Restoring it to original has become a hobby. Owners of newer Mercedes Benz have told me that the 300SD may be the best ever Mercedes ever built, and that you should hang on to it because it is generally cheap to maintain and lasts forevvveeerrr FSR.
I am in the process of buying one of these vehicles. From what I hear, they are bulletproof, and the one I'm getting is beat all to hell, and still runs better than my mom's 06 Kia.
I just purchased a 300 SD from a friend. I traded a 96 Aerostar mini van for this great vehicle, and it's my first ever Mercedes product.
I'm aware of the fact that the 5 cylinder turbo diesel needs 4 motor mounts, and these parts are plentiful and inexpensive to install, and it will need interior trim pieces.
Paint would do it justice, as well as a new set of 16 inch wheels up from the standard 14 inch.
Odometer reads 120,000, and that is young for a car this age.
From what I read, 1984 was a great year, and with a bit of TLC as well a grand, this should be one of the best all around cars in my history.
Chevy and Fords are good, but Mercedes are exceptional at any age, and with all the excitement this car generates, I have no doubt that this statement holds true.