This Time Capsule Mercedes-Benz 300SD is Reaching for Our Wallet
The fuel price and supply shocks of the 1970s sent many of the world’s prestige automakers scrambling to come up with more efficient machines to keep their fiscally-flush customers in the fold. Mercedes-Benz, of course, was not one of them, for it was already offering thrifty-at-the-pump mid-size cars with four- and five-cylinder diesel engines (and had been on a regular basis since the 1950s). So popular did these models suddenly become over here in North America that in 1978 the company began building a turbocharged version of its 3.0L inline-five diesel (codenamed OM617) and placed it in the full-size S-Class sedan. Thus was born the 300SD Turbodiesel.
Three model years later (two in Europe), the venerable W116-chassis S-Class gave way to the W126 series. The big sedans were still stately as all get-out, but they featured smoother, wind-tunnel-honed lines, weight-saving tricks like aluminum hoods and decklids, and a new family of downsized all-aluminum gas V8s for the top models. However, the 300SD was still offered, with slight increases in power and torque (120 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft, neither of which was an altogether terrible figure for the early ’80s) to take further advantage of the W126 platform’s mass and aero improvements. This 1982 Canadian-spec 300SD (which, as near as we can tell, is identical to the U.S. model except for the metric-only speedometer, odometer and trip meter) currently up for grabs on eBay in the San Francisco Bay area town of Burlingame, California, is certainly a clean second-year example of the second-gen SD. But it didn’t get that way through thousands of gallons of elbow grease and hundreds of hours of fastidious restoration; no, it got that way by having about 1,550 miles on it from new.
Yes, boys and girls, this clattery German dreamboat has only accumulated an average of roughly 47 miles each year of its life, and every millimeter of the thing – front-to-back and top-to-bottom – looks like it just rolled off the boat. The Champagne paint (and grey plastic cladding and bumpers beneath) ispretty much spotless, as is the interior finished in Brasil leather; leather upholstery was an option, as were thefront seat heaters and inflatable front seat lumbar support chambers that operated via hand pumps/relief valves located next to the seatbelt buckles. The engine compartment and undercarriage are also utterly spotless, and the obsessive original owner was thorough-beyond-belief in his record-keeping, keeping a detailed journal for the car, fuel station receipts and more.
Oh, and lest you assume all the original seals and gaskets and the original fluids have been left to rot over the last 33 years, the seller is quick to note that the big Benz received an extensive service late last year that saw the fuel tank drained and cleaned, and the fuel lines, fuel filter, thermostat, battery, brake fluid, coolant and the tires encircling the iconic 14” “Bundt pan” alloy wheels have all been replaced. That’s good to hear, because we know firsthand that age is just as prolific (if not more prolific) a factor in causing the deterioration of components and subsystems on these cars as mileage is. Hell yeswe would put in a bid on this time machine in a heartbeat…if bidding wasn’t already up to $40,100 (with the reserve still unmet). Guess we’re sticking with our not-quite-like-new ’83…