This is a VERY open-ended question: I have an opportunity to buy a 1979
240D from a mechanic who specializes in German cars. He comes highly
recommended. He says it's been well maintained, has 130,000 miles on it and
except for faded paint and the AC doesn't work it's a fine car. I've heard
from others that the AC in these cars was junk and it not working is not
surprising. He wants $1500 for it. The idea is that my wife will be
working in Houston, TX and needs a car for a month. She'll drive it (NO
AC!!!) and then I'll fly in and we'll drive it 2500 miles home to Oregon and
have a nice road trip along the way.
Anything I should know about these cars? We have a 2001 VW Golf TDI so we
know what modern diesel is all about. Assuming I don't care about the AC,
anything else about the cars that are problem points/things to check out?
Any thoughts and help would be greatly appreciated.
"we know what modern diesel is all about"
This old 4 cylinder 240D is no modern diesel; it's 1970 technology. These old
cars are very basic, easy to understand and repair by a DIY owner. This engine
makes about 68 HP and the car weighs about 3,300 lbs - starting to get the
picture? 0 to 60 in about 18 seconds, which is OK for driving on local streets
in town but not OK in competitive freeway driving, IMHO.
Don't put your wife into this old car, especially if she'll be driving it in
Houston. Remember, this car is 27 years old!
If you want a (123 chassis) model (like this one) buy a '82 - '85 300D
turbodiesel or a (126 chassis) '81 - '85 300SD which is larger but has the same
power train. This 5 cylinder diesel is also simple and understandable but makes
120 HP which is adequate, not ample, for current driving conditions. One of
these would be good in Oregon if you don't live where there are long hills.
Any 123 chassis should be checked for rust and engines of this age ought to be
given a compression test before any cash changes hands for that's the only way
to gauge the engine's remaining life.
Prior to '81 the A/C system in the 300D, not the 240D, is very complicated and
expensive to repair. The 240D uses simpler, manual controls but the compressor
etc. is the same.
repair. The 240D uses simpler, manual controls but the compressor etc. is the
Well...... not entirely true:)
That 240D used the horsepower-consuming upright 2-cyl York compressor.
81 and up, used the A4 axial Delco compressor.
I still don't understand why you think the 300SD underpowered. I had one and
would drive up mountain passes bigger than anything
seen in the US and the car would barely notice it's going up hill. Highway
traffic? 115mph no problem. Maybe there's something not
right with your 116 300sd.
Sounds like fun except for the no AC in Houston part. Hopefully it's
going to be in winter... It does seem like a bit of a sketchy plan to
me, though unless you are a good troubleshooter and your wife is
comfortable dealing with some problems.
It seems insane to assume it's just going to be perfect and work fine.
It might, but that would be very, very lucky.
By saying we have a TDI I meant to acknowledge that the two diesels are not
really comparable but we know some of the basics of diesel. My wife won't
be driving on freeways just surface streets. I'm aware of how much of a
slug the 240D is.
When we get it home it will be car I use to travel slow roads on the coast
to work. 50 to 80 mile round trips. I have a 2003 MINI, which I love and
don't want to put more miles on the little car than is necessary. What
we're looking for is a reasonably economical work horse with a bit of style.
On Sat, 22 Oct 2005 08:25:11 -0700,
had to open a new box of zerones to say:
I bought a 1983 240D with 172,000 miles on it from Bill Ditmire in
October 2003... I've put about 15,000 miles on it since and have
nothing to say but good about the car...
On a 1000 mile trip, the fuel system borked but the car never stopped
running and I limped into Indianapolis, Indiana where I found an
old-school mechanic who put me back on the road with an outlay of less
than $300 dollars... I have since had the dealer in Springfield, MO
adjust the valves and check the timing chain... The car has performed
without complaint since and I expect to drive it until I'm ready for
the crusher... :o)
I've never experienced a problem maintaining Interstate speeds and
driving it around town is a snap... True, the sunroof doesn't work and
the air conditioning is kerblunken as well... I solved those problems
by driving the car in the cooler months... The passenger and right
rear window lifts failed but a trip through the car wash seems to have
fixed that glitch... Should they fail again, I'll just blow another 5
bucks on a wash job...
In all, there's little bad that can be said about the car as long as
you understand that you'll be getting a mule, not a Kentucky Derby
winner... Frankly, mules have much better personalities... :o)
<! -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- >
The 240D is not a modern Diesel. It is one of the most bulletproof
cars ever made by Mercedes. Taxicab drivers used to take 240D's as a
standard taxicab in Germany for years. Mileages of 500.000 miles and
above are not at all uncommon. This is the good part.
The bad part: In the beginning the 240D featured only 65 HP, after
some years they upgraded it to 72 HP which still is not very much for
such a big car. I drove one myself for some months (before it was
totalled at an accident). Being designed as a Taxicab, the car is
quite noisy and acceleration is only sufficient up to 50 mph.
Compared to modern Diesels the 240D burns quite much fuel, I got
mileages between 23 and 29 mpg. This is not band and less than you
would get with a gas powered Mercedes of that age, but the gas
engines are way smoother and stronger.
The W123 body shows quite a lot of rust, things went better after the
major facelift in 1981. Power steering tends to wear out after
100.000 miles. It can be adjusted once, next time you need to replace
it. The front seats are a PITA and often worn out in that age. If you
have a good Mercedes parts dealer he can get you some spring
suspension packages for a seat overhaul. Vital functions like engine
kill switch, automatic transmission control and power locks are
driven by vacuum lines. If you have a puncture in the vacuum system,
these things won't work (My 240D simply kept its engine running, even
if I pulled out the key from the starter switch). Sunroofs tend to
If all things are working and the car has a good service history, you
get a car with good passive safety, very good brakes, a superb
handling, close to perfect ergonomics and a very high standard of
manufacture. I would recommend a 230E with gas engine instead;-)
please replace spam-muelleimer with fk-newsgroups for e-mail contact
Rust, rust, rust - and rust.
Plus also the already mentioned things like AC,
Tempomat (cruise control) (if any), everything
electric like the power windows and the power
Remember these cars are old and owners tend
to save money for proper maintenance of all
things not directly related to keep the cars
Other problems are faulty vacuum systems,
steering boxes with (too) much play, weak
seats, non-operating radio power antennas,
old water hoses (between water cooler and
engine) or a faulty glow plug relay.
And compared to modern cars the 240Ds are
dead slow - but in more than 22 years of
driving W123 diesels (with as low as 55 PS
and auto trans) I was never late because
of the cars... ;-)
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