Evaluating a 240D--what to look for?

I've been looking, very casually, for a 240D as a second car, and I am considering an '83 that has just come up for sale in my area...in fact, here's the URL for the listing (have not seen it in person yet):
http://tinyurl.com/5s3hp
147K miles, looks (from photos only, mind you) good, the dealer is a reputable local auto broker (though I don't know how he came by this car)...what should I be looking for in evaluating this car? What, if anything, should cause me to run, not walk, away? And what is a fair price for a 1983 240D? (The Euro-spec headlights on a 1983 model make me think this might be a European Delivery vehicle, I'm wondering if he'll jack up the price on that basis.)
Thanks in advance for your input. Carl Clark Nashville, TN snipped-for-privacy@ude.tlibrednav (reverse domain to reply)
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A 240D is a fine car for local use and this one looks to be clean and without rust. Some owner added the headlights, it looks otherwise to be a USA spec car. (European delivery is simply delivery in Europe of a new USA spec car that one orders here; after its European use the car is shipped to the local ordering dealer, cleaned up and delivered again to you.)
The ideal used car will have all its maintenance and repair records, very few do, so one has to evaluate the car. The condition of any diesel engine can be determined by a compression test. The condition of the steering and driveline can be judged by a mechanic's inspection. Rust is a factor so be sure there is none.
That said, the most important aspect is this model's limited power - 68 H.P.. OK for local driving and non-competitive freeways but if you need to accelerate to 65 mph on short acceleration ramps this car can't do that, especially if it's an automatic; the 4 speed stick is marginally better.
The 240D is a tough little workhorse but think German taxi economy, not American luxury car. It's a bit noisy and vibrates a lot at idle. It's a pretty simple car and that's its attraction to many DIY owners.
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That's exactly what I'm looking for (well, not the vibration at idle necessarily, the simplicity and ruggedness). Where could I expect to get a more thorough inspection and honest opinion by a mechanic--the local M-B dealer, or an independent Mercedes shop (in general)?
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Choose an established independent M-B shop over any dealer for dealers always want to make a new car out of whatever is driven into their shop. An oil stain becomes an oil leak that will cost $XXXX to fix etc.
This $1,500 car shouldn't be held to the standards of a new car whose warranty will cover such repairs. And always remember, the dealer's "service advisors" are commissioned salesmen.
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On Tue, 7 Dec 2004 14:39:35 -0600,
had to open a new box of zerones to say:

If the 240D vibrates at idle, it's time to look for the source... Were it not for the sound of the engine at idle, I'd have no indication mine was running...
<! -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- > zenit
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"C. F. Clark" wrote:

Rust of course: Look at the sunroof frame inside from the roof top, the little body part between the rear doors and the rear wheel arches, the wheel arches, the door sills and especially the car jack holes, the little grooves in the front fenders at the corners below the bumper/ the front turn signals, in the engine compartment at the wheel houses and the A-pillars, that is the parts inside close to the windshield and also look at the doors, especially their undersides.
Apart from that all things electrical should be checked, especially the Tempomat (if any, with these cars only available with auto trans, not with manual trans), the the air condition and the power windows (if any).
Also check if the vacuum system for e.g. the central power locking is intact, it also controls things like engine shut-off, headlight adjustment (at least with the European versions) and automatic transmission gear changes.
Another part wearing out easily is the steering box, when aging steering play become get too much, sometimes the speedo cable may cause weird speedo indications and sometimes the odometer is broken, especially the trip meter - and the water hoses between the water cooler and the engine may be too old, one can see cracks then.
All other things to be checked are as with any old used car.
Juergen - W123 diesels since 1983
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Another hint: At that age, the suspension of the drivers seat may have become weak (in general the seats of this car are more like a sofa than like a Recaro sports seat). AFAIK Mercedes can deliver a package of seat springs, which can be used to rebuild the seat to almost new condition. This is far cheaper than buying an entirely new seat. If you look after the car, ask the dealer not to start the car at that particular day. Start it yourself and check if the glow time is reasonable and if the car starts up properly (problems here may indicate broken glow plugs or a damaged glow control unit). After your test drive switch off the engine with the key, repeat this several times. The engine must stop immediately after you have turned the key to the off-position, if not, the vacuum line system may have a leak (Experienced that on my `81 240D). It is usual that the oil pressure gauge drops down during idle, expecially with a warm engine. As soon as you hit the accelerator, the needle has to go to maximum at once, otherwise the engine may have a problem.
BTW: IIRC all 240D made after 1982 had 72 instead of 68 HP. I found mine (with auto trans) surprisingly vivid, if you take into consideration the limited power. Cruising at speeds up to 80 mph was very pleasant.
Frank
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Whew! Brace yourselves...
Marty
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Frank Kemper wrote:

True - once I had a Recaro in a W123 diesel which gave me 12 hours of relaxed driving, as opposed to the original seat which only gave me 10.

Yes - a new seat is costly (and I don't know if still all cloth/leather/tex versions are available).

I have never seen any other behaviour with a W123 diesel.

Yes, definitely!

I must admit I don't know with the US versions (Danny?!?), but with the European versions it were 65 PS until June 1978, from August 1978 on (that means modelyear 1979 until end of production in November 1985) it were 72 PS.

In relation to the car's weight and the very low power output it indeed _feels_ vivid, but the pure figures show it is not: 4-Speed auto trans with 65 PS has a top speed of 83 mph and 0 - 62 mph is 27,4 secs (!), the figures for the 72 PS auto trans are 86 mph and 24,7 sec.; that means compared by today's standards the 240Ds are _extremely_ slow.
Juergen
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It may depend on the shape of your ass;-) We had two 123s with stock seats, and both my wife and me complained a lot about hurting backs after three hours. Absolutely no competition to the sports seats of my BMW, made by Recaro.
Frank
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I drove one until it quit at 325K and loved it. Still would be running if my son had kept up wiht the oil. Frist check to see if has a stick shift; if not, leave.
After the 240 I got a 83 300D with the Turbo. It is night an day from a 240. Would suggest the the few ex t ra $$ and look at the 83-85 series 300d and SD. I bought a 85 300D 4 years ago for $5000 that was in excellent shape.
Tom D.
haute in die Tasten:

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Follow-up to this thread...finally got a chance to go and look at the car...it's in reasonably good shape, no rust that I could find, started right up, seemed to drive OK...one ominous sign, though...the maintenance book went blank after about 1991. From reading this and other forums I consider that a very bad sign...so I walked. (Gives me an excuse to hold out for a 300D instead...I drive by a nice one every day that I keep hoping the owner will put up for sale.)
Thanks for all your advice... Carl Clark
haute in die Tasten:

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---------------------------------------------------
I am second owner of an '84 Carrera. It has service records in the maintenance book until the end of the two year warranty. After that it's blank Car has only 50K miles, and has had regular service - I have the records - but it doesn't need a stamp and a squiggle in the book to prove it. Independent shops ( who in their right mind would have an out of warranty car serviced at the dealer) in my experience don't do book stamps.
I've leased three BMW's, and all have been dealer serviced, by two different dealers. None had service noted in the book. Last service on the new MB, I left the book on the dash, thinking that since I own this one, I'd try to keep the book up to date. Even then, had to go back and ask the dealer to stamp it.
I wouldn't base a purchase decision on the lack of stamps in the service book. Did you ask if service records (other than the book) were available. If the owner didn't have them, but had owned the car for some time and had it serviced at the same shop, perhaps the shop would have some of the records.
DS
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I totally agree. Buy the car based on it's condition, not some stamp. Although it is always nice to see that the former owner took care of the car... I usually ask them to show me where the oil dipstick and tranny dipstick too (if it's an auto). If the previous owner doesn't know where these are, then that to me is a red flag.
Marty
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