1983 Mercedes-Benz W123 300TD 3L 5 cylinder turbo diesel from North America


Solid, tank-like. Buy one in good shape and take care of it if you like it!


Needed overhaul of suspension, ball joints, rear axles.

Also needed air filter box bushings.

Some other things I have replaced because I wanted to. About $3600 total, but that is just because I wanted to restore things.

General Comments:

Quite powerful and has torque.

Abundant creature comforts for the vintage.

I love the manual sunroof, it's large and easy to operate. I love manual controls.

Everything works except lower door locks. All other vacuum mediated systems are fine!

I am putting Bosch European headlight on it cause the original lights are old.

Silver is a great color. The interior is an nearly immaculate blue and it's growing on me.

My bearded collie loves this car!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd February, 2005

1983 Mercedes-Benz W123 300TD OM617 turbo diesel from North America


Built like a tank!


Needed new axles and ball joints and general going through.

General Comments:

Simply the most reliable and economical car I have had. I spend the money and money too take care of it. It's a west coast car with NO rust. It has taken care of me!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2005

23rd Feb 2005, 20:21

This sounds like my car exactly. An 83 300TD. I put the new ball joints and axles on this rustfree car and I love it!!!

31st Jul 2005, 07:01

How much did the new ball joints and axles set you back? I think my 1985 300 TD might need some rear suspension work as well... Ouch.

9th Jul 2009, 22:19

We purchased a 1983 300TD in 2006, 158k miles. Rustproofed when new with receipts. Previous owner had over $12k in mechanical repairs and restoration. We've done another $8k in restoration while adding 27k miles. She rides like a dream and solid as a tank. She won't win any autocrosses, but I love her!

1983 Mercedes-Benz W123 300D 3.0 turbo diesel from North America


The definition of automobile


Transmission rebuilt.

Timing chain and tensioner replaced.

Vacuum pump replaced.

Radiator core replaced.

Wheel bearings repacked.

General Comments:

My father bought this car in 1998 with less than 100000km and in museum condition. I was young and resented trading in our more modern 190E for a car designed in the 70's, but I have since come to love my "beast". The W123 is a magnificent piece of engineering. The styling is classic and distinctive. Living and working in a large city obsessed with new, the 20 year old Benz stands out. With care, it is a better car at 20 years old than many new cars today, which is a testament to how far ahead Mercedes was in that era. Non-car people often mistake it for new.

The Diesel is incredibly economical though obviously louder and a bit slower than one would like. Nevertheless, the engine sounds almost like a growling V8 and is satisfying. As for acceleration, the engine produces "thrust" rather than power. You do not have the response off the line of a modern gas engine, but once the turbo engages the engine will pull forcefully. The throttle has a very active response, unlike in a modern gas. The engine runs at peak torque at 100kn/h, so when you hit the accelerator at that speed the engine instantly responds and will pull over 170km/h. Because of the high compression of the diesel, releasing the throttle has the same effect: the car slows and will hold speed down steep hills without breaking. But the real performance of this car must be gauged differently. I have had the car loaded down, with extra cargo strapped onto the stuffed trunk without ever bottoming out the suspension, driven 150kn/h with the air condition on and gotten 28mpg.

This car looks like a car should look. It drives like a car should drive. There is no nonsense here: No leather seats (I would be replacing leather now, but my MB leather looks brand new), no computers, no ABS, and no air bags. Yet I would take my car against an SUV any day.

As you can see, many parts have been replaced and maintenance is expensive, but I haven't yet found a reason to trade in this car. W123 drivers are nearly fanatical in their devotion, and I feel much the same. If I were to buy a new car, it would probably be an OLDER Mercedes: a 6.9 as a toy, perhaps. The reason is simple: when you look up the word car in the dictionary, there is a picture of a Mercedes from the late 70's.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th September, 2004

23rd Jul 2008, 14:03

Please don't take on a SUV! It would override the front of the Mercedes, crush the bulkhead and devastate the cockpit.

4th Sep 2009, 11:55

Some drunk driver hit my 2004 Navigator with that thing while it was parked, and half of my truck was in the park, and the other half was on the road, and the drunk drove off. Police caught up with him and the car was totaled, but he sustained no injuries, he walked away and now I'm looking for the same car. Maybe an 84/85 300d turbo. I saw 1 for $7500 with 285k miles and in nearly new condition, but no shop around here will test the car out for me, and the dealer wants $400, so I guess I gotta pay up.

19th Feb 2010, 13:11

Great review!

I have had a 1983 300D for a little over a year now. The car is in pristine condition with a little over 170k miles now.

The prior owner put in a new interior, and since I've had the car, I put new tires, glow plugs, fuses, relays and tinted the windows in a light shade.

Apart from regular oil changes and diesel filter changes, I haven't had to do much else.

I ran diesel kleen through the tank a few times, and I'm planning on doing a diesel purge soon. Also, I haven't adjusted the valves on it yet, so that will be the next thing I address.

This is an amazing car, and very well built.

I am also planning on changing the fan clutch soon, and upgrading the original fan blade to the 9-blade plastic to hopefully make cooling more efficient.

The only other issue I need to address is the auxiliary cooling fan, which works erratically. I have tested the fan, and I know for sure it is working - I put a new fan switch at the AC condenser and a new relay, but for whatever reason, the fan still doesn't turn on, so I might take the car into a MB specialist to have this issue diagnosed and repaired.

I also have a 1986 300SDL, and although driving the SDL is a more refined driving experience, my 1983 300D still holds its own in many ways, and will be with me for many years to come.