Waking the Beast

Update by Tom Suddard to the Mercedes-Benz 300SD project car
Aug 20, 2013

The Mercedes might have had a ruined transmission, but that didn't stop us from taking a test drive.
Mercedes-Benz cars from this era have an interesting feature: the hood has a "service position" to make working on it easier.
Our old battery was junk, so we bought a new one.

We bought a diesel 1984 Mercedes 300SD for $300, and didn’t expect much. Nevertheless, we were convinced that it could be made to run again.

So, after wrestling it off the trailer, we checked the oil (it was mostly present) and turned the key–nothing. Not even a click. We had expected a dead battery, so our jump-box was already next to the car. We hooked it up, turned the key again… and were still met with nothing. Something seemed very wrong; why didn’t our jump-box get the car running?

We tested the battery, and it failed spectacularly. So we bought a new battery for nearly half of what we’d paid for the car. After putting it in, the Benz started right up and settled into a smooth idle. Sure, it was now a $450 car–but it ran. Apparently our little jump-box just wasn’t enough to turn over a diesel engine.

A quick drive around the neighborhood revealed many other issues, but the most prominent was shift flares. Between second and third gear, the transmission seemed to go into neutral for 10 or 15 seconds. Oh, and first gear seemed to have left the building.

The car also needed tires badly, only half of the windows worked, the sunroof would close but not open, the trunk leaked terribly, the brakes were shot, the motor mounts were collapsed, and it was all generally filthy. We’ll tackle these issues—and more—in our next updates.

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View comments on the GRM forums
bikerbenz Reader
8/21/13 2:22 a.m.

You folks are gluttons for punishment

tonekids New Reader
8/21/13 10:05 a.m.

I love it. These are great. At least the motor doesn't have extra vent holes in it.

triumph5 SuperDork
8/21/13 3:09 p.m.

Why didn't you do what you always advocate:pre-purchase inspection? Or did just say hell witu it lets buy it and see what we get?

triumph5 SuperDork
8/21/13 3:20 p.m.

What would you have done if the rngine were locked tight? Bought it anyway. Getting a rrbuilt trsns for mention of the rebuilding company? Same with interior, tires, a bad gauge or two. Been theren seen that, done that. Tell us all you honestly buy more than a minor part or two for your projects Bartering adv for ink doesn't cut it. Not repeatable for the average reader.

belteshazzar UberDork
8/22/13 1:20 a.m.

relax triumph

noddaz GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/22/13 10:42 a.m.

Is LS the answer to the question that has not been asked?

bengro New Reader
8/23/13 6:13 a.m.

SO many vacuum lines. My buddy has one of these. His only regret was not starting off with a nicer one.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
8/28/13 11:02 a.m.

Triumph, thanks for commenting. As a matter of fact, I'm funding this project completely on my own. Why? So it's more authentic. I even bought my own tires, which is a major, major no-no in this business.

Because of this, I can say whatever I like about the the parts I'm using. Watch this: The starter I bought from Autozone is absolutely terrible and broken, and I'm returning it.

Cool, huh?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
8/28/13 11:04 a.m.

And yes, I said "The hell with it, let's buy it." I paid less than scrap value for it, and my original plan was to part it out if it wouldn't run.

mtn UltimaDork
8/29/13 12:55 p.m.

Have you floored it yet to try to find first? On my dad's 93 300E, it started out in 2nd for fuel economy unless it was floored, or close to it.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
9/6/13 1:08 p.m.

Yes, I did. It's definitely a bad transmission.

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