Junkyard Find: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 300D

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1978 mercedes benz 300d

After finding a couple of Mercedes-Benz W123 coupes for this series, I decided to shoot the next four-door version of this legendary machine that I spotted. Here’s one in solid, stolid brown.

It’s pretty tough to beat the diesel W123 for sturdy construction and utter lack of corner-cutting in the build-quality department. These cars cost plenty, and their owners (usually) got their money’s worth. The price tag for a new 300D in 1978 was $20,911. That’s close to 75 grand in 2013 bucks, for a slow car that was reasonably luxurious but utterly bling-free.

This one made it to just 216,623 miles during its 35 years on the planet. Not bad, but a bit low for one of these cars.

Once it got a little battered and its interior was no longer so nice, this car’s days were numbered. Most likely, something broke that would cost more than a couple hundred bucks to fix, and the owner just gave up on the car.

Here it is, the legendary OM617 five-cylinder diesel. Not a lot of power, but ready for Armageddon!

Some junkyard shopper thought about getting the grille, but then left it behind.

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3 of 52 comments
  • Benzaholic Benzaholic on Apr 12, 2013

    Note the single, double, and triple square dots in the speedometer. Simple but effective engineering solution showing maximum shiftpoints. These cars were full of thoughtful engineering touches like that.

  • PSAutomobilist PSAutomobilist on Apr 12, 2013

    This makes me sad, partially because my one previous owner (he ordered it new) 1983 240D just turned 217,000 this week and still glistens like new. They all leave the factory the same. I love diesel 123s- this is my fifth. It wakes up every morning with a cheerful chortle and teaches me to appreciate every tenth of a horsepower. And it's fun to play crazed Parisian cabbie.

    • Cfclark Cfclark on Apr 12, 2013

      All this talk makes me want one again. I could use it to go to IKEA and buy some nice sofa cushions, which I would need after my wife, who was not in love with my first W123, banished me to the sofa for a month. ;)

  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.
  • Ajla It's weird how Polestar apparently has better BEVs than Volvo. And this is the same price as a Pilot and Plus optioned Polestar 2 AWD.