1982 Mercedes 300 TDT Going Strong after 421,000 miles

I recently drove my 1982 300 TDT over the Kern Plateau to the San Joaquin Valley. You climb 6000 ft to the top of the plateau on a winding, steep, narrow road. Then drive 50 miles at elevation across
the plateau to the rim of the canyon of the Kern River at 9200 ft. Then drop down and incredibly long series of hairpin turns and steep slopes, requiring low range almost the entire way to 3,500 ft. Then the road climbs up the far side of the canyon another 5,000 feet or so and then drops nearly 7,000 feet, again on a very winding, low gear road to the San Joaquin valley, then the road winds through the scrub oak ranches for 30 miles and then climbs back up another 7,000 ft with another hundred switchbacks or so to the elevation of the Giant Sequoias of Sequoia National Park. I had the AC on when necessary and the car was comfortable the entire way despite the humid, 90+ degree temperatures at the lower elevations. I stayed overnight, did some photography work, and then returned back via the same route the next day. When I got home I checked the oil and the 3 liter, 5 cylinder diesel had consumed about a cup of oil in the 500 miles of grueling driving. The transmission was really put through its paces and didn't use any oil. It also does not leak. The only oil leak on the engine is a little bit from the valve cover because I didn't replace the gasket the last time I adjusted the valves.
I bought the car when it was ten years old and had 144,000 miles on it. The original owner had just put in the third transmission in the car and decided to get rid of it because it went through transmissions. I have faithfully changed the oil and filter in the tranny every 15,000 miles when I was running dinosaur fluid and now that I am running Mobile 1 synthetic I change it every 30,000 and this third transmission still works like new.
So I would say that the 1982 300 series cars were very well built. And ride and drive like a dream. I have driven the same route with my 4Runner and I am exhausted after just one way, let along driving back the next day. When I drove the Benz I was not even tired when I got home, and the car got over 30 mpg despite the incredible climbs and descents.
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It is all because you own and operate one of the finest examples of superior automotive engineering ever built.
I have a W123 300D of the same era, and it performs similarly, when the regular maintenance you describe is done without fail.
It is a shame that cars designed to be functional, rugged, comfortable and long-lasting are no longer built. This is why many of us persist in maintaining these now thirty-year-old cars that are still delivering to their design purpose, lo these many years since new.
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Agreed on all counts. I have had all kinds of cars through the years and my two W123s continue to amaze me with their superb reliability and performance year after year. I have a 1982 300TD wagon as well and with just basic maintenance it runs and rides like a new vehicle. Likewise my 1979 240D with the nonturbo four cylinder, while gutless, is so reliable and solid I forget that my trusty daily commuter car is 30 years old.
I agree with Randall that they just don't build them like this anymore.
You might like this blog by a guy driving his 300TDT all over the world. Check out the fold out tent that he build on top of the car for his trip across Africa. I want one!
http://300td.org /
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On another note, Paul, are you all healed up from your accident? I hope so.
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Thank you for asking. I am pretty much healed up, now I just have to get back in shape from the long layoff and I am working on that.
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