Classic White 1981 Mercedes-Benz 300D with 84k Miles
For December 20, 2021, our used car find is this extremely well-preserved, two-owner 1981 Mercedes-Benz 300D sedan with just 84k miles. It’s offered on Craigslist by a private seller in the Richmond Virginia area for $11,750 or best offer.
Here’s what makes this one special.
The W123-generation Mercedes-Benz is one of the most celebrated and iconic cars of the last fifty years. And rightly so. Its classic styling, outstanding build quality, and robust engineering rival anything made before or since. Available in sedan, coupe, and wagon form, as well as both gas and diesel variants, the W123 sold in huge numbers (2.7 million units worldwide). Thanks to their incredible longevity and mass appeal, many are still on the road today.
This particular car hails from near the midpoint in the W123’s nine-year production run (1977-1985 in the US). As such, it benefits from a number of improvements that Mercedes made to the W123 along the way. They include better rustproofing, an improved HVAC system, and slightly more power from the naturally-aspirated five-cylinder diesel engine (up 10% to 87 horsepower).
More importantly, this is one of the best-kept W123 examples we’ve seen. The seller reports just 84k documented miles, and the photos seem to back that up. They show a nearly blemish-free exterior with excellent original paint and shiny brightwork. Inside the cabin that story continues. There’s no visible wear on the driver’s seat nor much apparent fade on the rear parcel shelf or the gauge needles. Even its crack-prone blue dashboard seems to be perfectly intact. Clearly this car was garaged and babied the majority of its life.
In the words of the seller…
1981 Mercedes-Benz 300D (W123 NON-TURBO)
White with Blue MB Tex
All original (except stereo)
No rust. No accidents. Non-smoker.
DOCUMENTED 84K Miles GARAGE QUEEN
SECOND OWNER (purchased in 2006 from KC estate sale, yeah a little old lady)
Has not been driven in rain in 15 years.
A few dings, chips, and light scratches…all minor.
3.0-Liter diesel Inline 5 Cylinder
Four-Speed Automatic Transmission
A/C, Power Windows
COMPLETE history/maintenance records.
Original manual and Haynes repair, some maint. parts & generic dust cover.
Less than 200 miles since ALL FLUIDS CHANGED.
Recent VA registration as antique, up until then inspected annually.
Typical vacuum issue affecting power lock operation (lock w/key)
Minor run on problem, again typical vacuum (10 sec).
Dash idle knob needs adjustment.
Minor oil seepage.
STARTS EVERY TIME, and ALWAYS HAS.
On the downside, just one year after this car was made, Mercedes dropped a turbocharged version of the OM617 diesel into the W123, upping horsepower by 40% and increasing its everyday drivability substantially. Still, we wouldn’t turn down a 300D this clean just because it lacks a turbo. It may be a little slow off the line, but once up to speed it’ll keep up with modern traffic and cruise happily at 70 miles per hour.
The listing discloses a few deferred maintenance items, including a vacuum leak that needs to be tracked down. That’s relatively common on a W123 and shouldn’t be overly difficult to address — though we’d advise leaving it to a specialist familiar with these cars’ extensive vacuum systems.
It’s quite rare to find a W123 in this condition, so we think the $11,750 ask here is pretty reasonable, even with the issues noted.
1981 Mercedes-Benz 300D Details
- 84,270 miles
- 3.0-liter inline five-cylinder diesel engine (OM617)
- 87 hp @ 4400 rpm
- 127 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
- four-speed automatic transmission
- rear-wheel drive (RWD)
- Classic White exterior
- blue MB Tex interior
- for sale by owner
- $11,750 (or best offer)
- Jordan Point, Virginia