Cars are remembered for many different reasons. Some are pretty, some are fast, and occasionally some contribute an innovative technology which advances the automotive industry forever. But, the Mercedes-Benz 300TD features none of the above. And yet, this particular and much-beloved vehicle is AND was popular far beyond the scope of what consumers might expect.
From 1978 to 1985, Mercedes-Benz built the 300TD on the company’s stalwart W123 platform. A mere 200,000 Estate units (wagons) were sold during that time, and a three-year backlog ensued during the 1980s. Yes, buyers actually waited three years to receive the 300TD as a brand new vehicle.
And today the wagon is no less popular. Because of the prolific nature of the W123 platform, almost 2,000 movies and TV shows have included a cameo, such as Malcolm in the Middle episodes and even the recent Jason Statham flick Killer Elite. To that end, nobody drives the 300TD for sex appeal or displays of machismo. Instead, characters sport the vehicle as a sort-of subtle undercurrent of panache meets practicality.For Turbo fans, the 300TD was capable of 123 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. of torque. And, owners have been known to push its OM617 engine to incredible limits, even using alternative fuels with minor vehicle conversions.
Pricing is even more enticing, if you’re in the market. Run-down models can be had for less than $1,000 and nearly flawless, relatively low-mileage examples go for about $30,000. The only bad news is that you have to maintain a rust-inducing metal vehicle, and the 300TD is known to include a short-lived, prone-to-sag leather interior.
Of course, you’ll be laughing your way to the bank, powered by the same fast food liquids that clog other, less-dignified peoples’ arteries.