Manual Tortoise: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 240D
This next car is offered at a price that is typically reserved for wrecked or rusted cars…and it appears to be neither. The seller admits that the driver’s seat needs fixin, and the window handle (yes…this means it has manual windows – score!) is broken…but then admits that part of the reason the price is so low is because it won’t turn off when you turn the ignition/key off. You need to dump the clutch and hold your foot on the brake — and I know a thing-or-two about this problem because I had a W123 with the same vacuum related issue that causes the mechanical fuel shut-off valve to stop working. It won’t stop you from getting the car home and it could be as simple as replacing a few dried vacuum hoses…but with new tires/brakes/rotors/steering column/starter…this thing had its value in maintenance in recent times. Seems like a great first car for a kid or 17th car for CFlo. Find this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 240D offered for $2000 in Napa County, CA via craigslist.
From the seller:
1981 mercedes-benz 240d
cylinders: 4 cylinders
paint color: yellow
title status: clean
We are selling our classic 1981 diesel 240D Mercedes sedan. $2,000 or best offer. It is super cute and everything on it is original including hub caps. 280,826 miles. 4 door. Manual transmission. Automatic sun roof. Fun to drive and built safe. Cream color. Needs a new window handle on driver’s side. Back of driver side seat is ripped with stuffing coming out. Seat covers might do the trick. Interior is all original and is in good enough condition. New issue: turning the key to the off position does not turn it off now, you have to release the clutch and “kill it”. We can not put any more money into it so it is AS IS. Could be the perfect extra car for you. Check out Hagerty.com, nadaguides.com, and classics.autotrader.com for comps. We will give title plus all receipts for work done and car history. Perfect extra car. $2,000 or best offer It has:
New brake pads
New steering wheel column
See a better way to drive something cheap? email@example.com
Already gone. The fastest way to sell a running car is to price it like a non-running parts car. This was a wise move by a motivated seller.
Easy fix is to take one of the backseat window cranks and put it on the driver’s door.
There is also the strangle lever in the engine compartment that shuts off the fuel.
Ditch the central door locking system and the shut the engine off problem usually goes away. Fixing the central door locking system is no fun at all.
Speaking of fun, a diesel Mercedes and valet parking is a sure-fire combination for amusing stories, especially the W114s where there is a push pill knob to start and stop it. Maybe they will figure out how to shut it off, maybe they will figure out how to start it. Maybe they won’t.
This is a dead ringer for my old 240D except mine was a 1978.
Too bad it sold. I think I would have bought it.
Hugh, before the 83 240D manual I had in college, I drove a W114 ’79 240D auto — uggggg that car was slow and the transmission wouldn’t upshift unless you lifted the throttle, so driving up hills was an exercise in patience. It also had the push-pull starter setup — where you had to hold the knob out and wait for the glow plug light to turn off and then purrrr…puff of black smoke. I once loaded that car up with 5 people (kids really…not mine…we were all kids) and had someone with a stop watch time a 0-60 of 27 seconds….of black smoke. I think that car killed more people with lung cancer than COVID. -Vince
We had a 1969 W114 220d with a manual transmission, and it was really “fun” (in the sense of mundane tasks taking on a life or death urgency ) to drive in San Francisco. There were some streets where it was possible to drive from one intersection to another as long as you didn’t stop in the middle of the block. If you did stop and you were lucky you could have everyone get out of the car and meet you at the next intersection while you would the rev the engine to the max, drop the clutch and hope you weren’t stopped on one of the many bits of steel that the city of San Francisco saw fit to put in the middle of the street. If you were on a cable car track much wheel spinning would ensue. A couple times we had to back down the hill a half block. Thankfully there wasn’t a cable car behind us, although the cable car guys are pretty good sports to the extent that once they let my grandfather bring the Dairy Princess and a cow on board.
Anyway – an auto might have been preferable in San Francisco but certainly not as “fun”.
The only fun thing about an old 4 cylinder diesel Mercedes is you can drive it as your own personal F1, flat out all the time, and no one will know.