Sunday, September 9, 2012

On to the Mercedes! The dirty... dirty Mercedes

Now that the Legacy is on the road and the Impreza is out of the way, I've finally been able to get started on the next project - the Mercedes 240D. This is my third W123 body 240D, and my sixth Mercedes diesel overall. The lineup is as follows:

1982 240D:
 This was my first car. I owned it from 1996 through 2005. If circumstances had been a bit different, I might still have it today.

1985 300SD:
This was my fourth car overall, and replaced the 1982 240D as my daily driver. I owned it from 2005 through 2007, but sold it because I couldn't bear to see such a nice car get destroyed on my long commute. It's still in the family, though.

1985 300D:
I bought this car as a project in 2007, around the time I sold the 300SD. I found it in a Boston shipyard, beat-up and barely running. I spent a few weeks working on it and drove it all summer. I had a chance to double my total investment, so I sold it and picked up a VW Golf for a project car.

1981 240D:
Around six months had passed since I sold the 300D, and I was missing owning a diesel Mercedes. I found this car on Craigslist, only a mile from my house, sitting at a body shop. Much like the 300D, it barely drove. On the test drive, I couldn't top 20 MPH. But, the body looked OK, and the interior was in very nice shape. This car had over 300,000 miles on it, but had a low-mileage factory-rebuilt automatic transmission, a low-mileage dealership-installed used engine, a brand new exhaust, brand new tires, brand new radiator and brand new alternator. I bought the car in January, 2008 and got right to work.

I discovered severe rust damage in the floors and rocker panels. But, I experimented with some homespun bodywork and made it solid again. Once I had the car solid and running, I drove it for a while and then converted it to run on waste vegetable oil. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding enough vegetable oil to make it worth my while, so I sold the car for what I had in it in April, 2009.

1972 220D:
By early 2010, I was ready for another project. This came along. It was a runner, but had been off the road for around a decade. It came with a stack of paperwork, going back to the original invoice. But, the car had unknown high mileage and was in very poor shape. It did run, though. When I got it home, I found, once again, severe rust damage. As time allowed, I worked on the car. In late 2011, the Vanagon's engine blew on me, and I sold the incomplere 220D to make space for that project.

and finally... the 1983 240D:
As you know, I picked this car up in late March/early April. I've been busy with the Vanagon and the Legacy project, so the 240D has mostly just been sitting in the driveway and garage. Now that those two projects are out of the way, I'm finally able to start on the 240D.

As I may have mentioned, this is the filthiest car I've ever paid money for. I've spent a little time cleaning it already, but I still have a way to go before I'm ready to start working on the car. The previous owner had sprayed the engine compartment (and, I suspect, the interior floors) with some sort of oil mix to ward off rust. It's heavy, nasty stuff, so I spent yesterday and today cleaning it. Here's a little before and after:

The engine compartment isn't done yet, but I can see paint again. I also cleaned clumps upon clumps of Reagan-era dirt out of one of the wheel wells (three to go):

There's a long way to go, but once the car is clean, I start repair work. The first thing I'm going to do is patch up a blown brake line. From there, I'm going to jump right into bodywork, and then on to the rest of the mechanical repairs.


  1. Just wondering, what's the condition of the brake shoes on this car. Didn't hear you mention anything about those?

    1. I haven't really inspected them yet. Right now, I'm still wait-deep in cleaning the crud off the car. Once that's done, I'm going to fix the leaking brake line in order to make the car easier to move around, and then I'm going to try and tackle the bodywork before the winter. I can handle the mechanical repairs in the garage this winter. But, I suspect that pads and rotors will need replacing.

  2. Selling a black 1983 240D just like the 1st one you owned. 300k miles, still purrs like a kitten, no rust, great AC and heat. A few tears in front seats, and some damage to wood veneer around controls/middle console, but otherwise in great condition. Email me if interested:

    1. Tempting, but I don't have the space or budget for another car. I'm still putting together the 1983 240D I have and am stripping a 1979 parts car. Where are you located?

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