Buying an '85 300D turbo to tow and move accross US? Am I crazy?

Hi, I've been looking around your wonderful group for a while now and I'm now considering buying my first MBz. There's a nice one out here in Cinci that I'm going to look at today from a guy who's asking too
much for it ($2900) especially with rust, etc.
Here's my deal. One-way moving truck rentals have gone through the roof in the past year. I've gotta get out of Ohio, and I'd rather rent a trailer for $600 than pay $1600-$1900 for a week's use for a truck or $2500 to have someone else move my crap for me. This leads me to looking for a new car since neither of my current rides could tow crap ('00 caddy catera, 59 studebaker lark 6) and I need to sell at least the caddy to get out of debt before I move and get back in debt. I'm not a fan of full-sized sedans, and my girlfiend is just getting her liscence, so some thing on the Crown Vic platform is out of the question and I have less than 3k to blow, so I'm thinking that it'd be best to blow it on a 300d b/c of their dependability and the fact that they're diesel. An SUV in this price range doens't look all that great other than a grand wagoneer woody which would be perfect other than it's EPA list of 11/16 MPG. Bahh. that's as bad as the moving truck, and I'd have to drive it every day once I get out to Oregon.
Here are the two trailers I'm looking at:
* 6' x 12' Trailer Tandem axles and surge brakes for easier towing Empty weight: 1,800 lbs Max load: 2,600 lbs Maximum Gross Weight (trailer plus load): 4,400 lbs Tow hitch required: Class 2 (3,500 lb. minimum weight-carrying rating). Hitch ball: 1 7/8, 2 or 2 1/8, (3,500 lb. minimum)
* 5' x 8' Trailer single axel no brakes Empty weight: 900 lbs Max load: 1,800 lbs Maximum Gross Weight (trailer plus load): 2,700 lbs Tow hitch required: Class 1 (2,000 lb. minimum rating) Hitch ball: 1 7/8, 2 or 2 1/8 (2,000 lb. minimum)
The 300D I'm looking at today is turbo, off-duty MBz mechanic maintained with 149k, is a daily driver and, I think, single owner. Is this crazy???
From looking through this group is doesn't sound too crazy to try and moove bout 800#s of stuff in an 1800# trailer for 2300 miles over mountains, but could that just be the zeal of people who thuroughly believe in their cars? Would an 89 explorer be better? Should I just stay in Cinci for another three months to try and save up the extra grand? Any help at all would be greatly appreciated. Your advice is invaluable.
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I wouldn't accept a car with rust anywhere on it as a gift, much less for what you're going to have invested. You'll never stop the rust and it will just be putting lipstick on a pig every time you pay for repairs. Keep looking.

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On Fri, 01 Apr 2005 08:23:27 -0800, petepo wrote:

Sigh. Where to begin. Ok, let's start with the car. There are a good number of 300-class cars still available for less money with no rust and similar mileage. I don't share the view that rust is "incurable" - depends how much rust, and where it's located. Rusty areas that are properly taken back to clean metal and properly surfaced are not a problem, but I'd negotiate real hard on this one.
Here's the problem - petepo, these are passenger sedans. Even brand new, they were designed to carry 4, maybe 5 adults and a little luggage. But I can guarantee that the car you're looking at is not brand new, and has some wear on it's shocks, it's steering damper, it's suspension bushings... etc. and towing a trailer will bring out the worst in any suspension.
I won't mention the fact that it's tough to get from Ohio to Oregon without crossing some interesting terrain. There are, as you know, these things called "The Rocky Mountains" between where you are, and where you want to be. Until you have done some mountain driving, it's hard to imagine just how interesting long descents and ascents with lots of switchbacks can be in an older vehicle - let alone in an older vehicle towing a trailer. I do not mean "interesting" in a good way, either. All over the Rockies, you will see these intriguing little scenic detours that extend off the road for a couple of hundred yards and end in a gravel pit. These are for Semi trucks (vehicles which were DESIGNED to haul trailers) to pull off into and hopefully bury their tires in the gravel, thereby slowing them to a stop when their brakes have failed.
The W123s have superb brakes, and the diesels at least had both oil and transmission coolers, but again - these parts were engineered with passenger service in mind - not mountain crossings hauling cargo trailers over half the weight of the car.
Additionally, I'm not sure how you can get a legitimate hitch shop to claim they can put a 2000 lb. hitch on a W123 body - the typical hitches I've seen either bolt up to the bumper shocks - or are drilled through the bumper, then attach further up to the trunk sheet metal. (Side note: anyone seen one of the TD wagons with a "real" hitch? Just curious - I'm pretty sure they existed)
My honest opinion? Keeping in mind that I've survived two cross country moves. Sell everything. This includes the children. You can always get more children where you're going. Use the proceeds to put the few indispensible family heirlooms in the care of a shipping company, buy an airplane ticket, sit back and enjoy the $4.00 drinks as you soar over the Rockies.
My second best advice? Be patient. Those prices you see on the u-rentum truck websites are not necessarily fixed. The regional managers do have some ability to adjust the price. Tell them you're pricing a move, ideally a couple of months out. Let them know you're price shopping. If you're moving between major markets, there's some competition and they know it. Be sure they have your contact information and can get in touch with you if they suddenly "discover" a discounted rate. Chances are they will.
If you do decide to do it yourself, do a little shopping. What you're looking for is A) tow vehicle prices in Ohio, B) tow vehicle prices in Oregon, C) trailer prices in Ohio, D) trailer prices in Oregon, then do the math. If you can swing the upfront purchase, you may be able to buy an appropriate tow vehicle and trailer, and actually make money selling them on the other end.
Finally, if you're dead set on the Benz with a trailer across the Rockies idea, I can only suggest a much smaller trailer and making a couple of trips. I have a 4x8 utility trailer that I put behind my 81 diesel. It weighs about 220 lbs, and with even a quarter ton on it, it's not something I'd feel real good about taking cross country. But maybe I'm just easily spooked. I have direct intimate experience with rolling a Suburban with a 22ft cargo trailer on it, and I don't mean rolling down the road - I mean turning it over about 1 3/4 times. And that was on level straight road. Just a heavy trailer and a couple of badly timed side gusts of wind (and my possible overcorrection, I admit)
But even that solution has it's economic downside - anyway you slice it, if you can do it in two trips that's about 9,000 miles of driving, which even if everything goes perfectly, is going to be pricy - I figure close to a thousand dollars just for diesel - and that's using optimistic mileage figures - not mountain/trailer towing mileage figures.
Have you considered moving to Kansas?
Conrad
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You want to buy an old car that's done 150K miles to drag a 2,600 lb trailer across the country. The turbodiesel had 120 HP when it was new in 1985; 20 years later a 15% reduction due to wear, age etc cuts it to 102HP - not much considering the car is 3,800 lbs and goes up the long grades in the truck lane. Then there's a transmission that's had 150K miles of experience - it's supposed to pull the 2,600 lb trailer up the grades?
Visualize your car and trailer about half way to the destination - on the side of the road with lots of smoke and steam - the girlfriend is crying and you're sore as hell because the car is junk and now your stuff is in a trailer that has no tow.
About like asking your grandparents to help push start a car.
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I totally agree with the above posts. Unless you're carting heirlooms across country sell everything but the shirt on your back. You can buy new ones on the way. Crate what you absolutely cannot do without and ship it air freight (cheaper than by truck). I'd dispense with the $4 drinks and take the free sodas on the airplane. You'll spend less flying you and your girl than on fuel. BTW, you can ship quite a few heirlooms as baggage on the flight. Check with the airlines for specials. You might be shocked. I once drove from Ohio to Las Vegas on $35 worth of gasoline....but that was 1957 in a '54 Plymouth. Ah, Vegas in '57....what a great town it was before the bean-counters got involved. Bring back the mafia. They knew how to treat ya!
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Yeah, but if they are worth more then $250 dollars (US) and they disappear, then you are completely SOL.
Still I do agree that most material possessions are not worth carting. Chuck what you can, then look everything over again and chuck some more.
Good Luck, Marty
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Hey all you wonderful people. Thanks for saving my wallet if not, well, everything... I'm passing on the car today... The only reason I was considering it was because I thought that the diesels were more tourquey and that I thought I read towign capacities around 3500. That and the transmission cooler. But, alas, I'm going to try to get a truck to make the move... The thing with all the stuff is that my girlfriend and I are finally accumilating furnature that isn't trash. Literally. The apartment before last was furnished (other than foam rubber beds and a dining room table) by furnature that we found on the side of the road or that people we knew were going to throw out until one of us was like -- hey -- let me see if I can borrow a truck. New we have some decent stuff includind the first comfortable couch we have ever owned. Kinda has selling it and then moving to a state where we know three people and only one who isn't on welfare. The drive that I made from Albuquerque in the '59 all original Studebaker kind of left me with a "the roads are mine" feeling, but the Rockies can be rough. I remember the drive up to Aspen in my very fully loaded civic was pushing the limits of the car and even though it was overloaded with a topper, it still got in the trck lane a time or two... and got passed by a truck or two... So, I hear that Portland is pretty bike friendly, and that's where I think I'll be at for a while after moving there. But the idea is still to get this same car, I think. The last of a generation's always nice to get, especially when they're about to be a little more "classic." There are biodiesel gas stations out there -- I'd love to have coffee be the #1 import for the US instead of oil... I love the idea of passing my dollars onto thrifty pioneering individuals instead of notorios corporations... So I guess you'll see me around this group later than earlier. I'll definately take the advice to try and get a truck spot to offer me a lower deal... Just seems like such a crappy trade -- the studebaker for renting a truck for nine days. Oh well. Thanks a lot guys. I'll give you an update on how fun it was crossing the Rockies in a U-Haul.
-pete
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