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volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/21/15 3:21 p.m.

About as soon as I sold off the original Krautbeaterwagen, I happened across another 300TD on Craigslist, also within a few miles of my home. And I mean a few miles. I actually rode my bicycle to go pick it up.

Oh, yeah, I bought it. sheepish grin

It's a 1980, so the diesel is N/A, and it doesn't have the cool Euro-lights. But it does have a MUCH nicer interior, and much less real rust in the body.


The worst of the rust is in the front fenders, which bolt on, so they may get replaced at some point. The black area behind the front wheel here is a patch a P/O rivetted in for some reason.


The day after I picked it up, I started driving it. It starts great, even when cold, and runs about as well as an 80 horsepower 5 cylinder diesel engine does. Enough of the things work on the car that it's not irritating to drive, and the heater puts out nice warm air (The HVAC has been bypassed, though). I replaced the thermostat and radiator cap, which seems to have addressed a slight 'running hot' problem it had, had the Mexican tire joint slap two nearly new 195/70's on the back to replace the worst of the tires, and I'd guess I've put 200 miles on it or so this week.

A box with new wiper blades just arrived from Rock, and the gamut of filters should be forthcoming. I need to tweak the front suspension a bit (I corrected a bad camber pull, but now the toe is decidedly out) and probably replace the other two tires at some point. I guess I'll just drive it until I either get bored with it and sell it, or something major breaks and...I sell it.

AClockworkGarage New Reader
1/21/15 4:48 p.m.

Ja bitte!

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon SuperDork
1/22/15 12:47 a.m.

I hate you in the nicest way possible.

mazdeuce UberDork
1/22/15 7:06 a.m.

I still want one of these. Carry on. Tempt me.

Toyman01 MegaDork
1/22/15 7:10 a.m.

So much for curing the auto ADD.

I keep seeing these on the List of Craig. They are tempting for sure.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/22/15 7:17 a.m.

I used to have a 240D with a stick shift and a 300D (Auto), so I'm somewhat used to the slowness of these things...but the fact that I drove my Volvo Amazon to work today and it felt fast is really saying something.

The Turbo Krautbeaterwagen was much faster, but this one's more family-friendly. The day after I brought it home, I strapped the baby in the back seat and the three of us went downtown(+) for dinner(**). The wife was displeased about the cold MB-Tex seats on her bottom, but otherwise likes the car. I'm thinking a set of sheepskin seat covers will be just the ticket for her tuckus.

(+)Westminster, MD

(**)Papa Joe's Mexican restaurant. On Saturday nights they do real, authentic Mexican dishes. Their normal menu fare is quite tasty, but the Sopas Carnitas and fish tacos (with cabbage and radishes and a spicy cream sauce) we enjoyed were out of the park.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/22/15 7:21 a.m.

In reply to Toyman01:

In addition to selling the other 300TD, I also recently sold a Miata and will be sending an Amazon wagon off to a new home sometime soon, so, really, I am making progress. And I'm still getting things done on the Town and Country.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/23/15 7:06 a.m.

The Box from Rock arrived yesterday, so last night's challenge was to change the oil and filter, replace the air and fuel filters, and set the toe before racing inside to watch Carmella while the wife took a shower. Happy to report I drove the car to work this morning, though the steering wheel still isn't centered and the toe still feels a bit too "outie" for my liking. More adjustments tonight.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/26/15 7:36 a.m.

Packed up the wife and baby and headed off to a friend's house ~50 miles away on Saturday. I'd bought a set of $34 seat covers for the Benz, and the wife went from having a chilly butt to really enjoying the car. She found the original window sticker in the glove compartment and marveled at the list of "standard" features- and the $28,000+ price tag in 1980! We listened to "Wait, wait, don't tell me" on the aftermarket Denon cassette player (so very 80's) and had a wonderful drive. The baby slept in the back.


The car still has a bit of a weird steering feel to it; it pulls a little in both directions and the on-center feel is strange. When the weather brightens up a bit I plan to break out the tape measure and see where the toe really is; I'd been trying to set it by "feel" and it's close, but there's still something amiss.

I just have to say, though, I really don't think Mercedes has ever built a car as good as the W123, and it's doubtful they ever will again. It just drives like a frigging tank.

chiodos HalfDork
1/27/15 7:36 p.m.

Can you mount your baby any way you please by the lack of airbags or is that the proper direction a child should face (towards the liftgate) forgive my ingornace I dont own a baby yet. Congrats on another merc wagon! I lust over them every time I see one.

Mad_Ratel Reader
1/27/15 7:46 p.m.


rear facing first, then at 30 to 45 lbs and over 36" they can face forward, then at a certain point it's a booster.

kids dont get to sit on the freaking seatas until they are like frigging 8 now...

chiodos HalfDork
1/27/15 9:02 p.m.

Damn! I remember riding in the passenger seat of dads cj7 without doors driving down the freeway asleep with only a seat belt holding me from the pavement, my how times have changed. Guess the DOT eggheads dont belive in natural selection anymore?

volvoclearinghouse Dork
1/28/15 12:53 p.m.

Yeah, it's pretty specific now. Gotta be rear facing for now- she's 7 months old and about 20 pounds. Some of these 300TDs had rear-facing "way back" seats, but this one does not, so it's the back seat for now.

We put her in the middle for safety, and also if her rear-facing seat were behind the driver's seat, I couldn't put the seat where it's comfortable for me to drive. If/when we have a second child, we could put her in a front-facing seat behind the driver and put the 2nd kid behind my wife's seat, and just move that seat forward some.

I'm fairly certain that minivans and SUVs exist solely because of the mammoth seats we have to put kids in nowadays.

On an unrelated note:


Euro bumpers, Euro lights, and a 4 speed swap for the KBW. Wow. I is tempted...but I have to keep telling myself I just bought this so we'd have a proper family car until I get the Town and Country done.

Mad_Ratel Reader
1/28/15 1:34 p.m.

Meh, tell me when you find a coupe.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
2/5/15 1:49 p.m.

I've been messing with the alignment for a week or so now...I just can't quite seem to get it where I want it. On-center seems OK, and it tracks straight, but if I turn it slightly off center it "pulls" to that side I'm turning to. If I turn the wheel more than half a turn or so (low speed manuevers, obviously) and let go, it cranks the wheel all the way to the side I'm turning to.

Looking at the car at rest, the wheels don't seem to be massively toed (slightly toe-in, I think- need to measure), and camber is about even on both sides (near zero, just a bit negative). I wonder if caster could be screwed up?

The front tires also squeal a lot, under almost any maneuver. There's worn out, so that could be part of the problem...then again, I hate to get newer tires if the alignment's off. Kindof a predicament.

ON an unrelated topic, I was getting irritated with the transmission "surging" when shifting, so I topped it off (it was halfway between add and full, when at operating temperature) with some Lucas trans treatment. Either that stuff really works, or the transmission really prefers being right at "Full", but shifting quality is much improved.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
2/10/15 1:51 p.m.

As it turns out, a couple of new front tires made the steering a lot better. I'm not sure what was going on here...perhaps the old tires were so worn, or unevenly worn, they caused the steering to feel wonky. There was basically zero tread left on the old tires- not quite to the cords, but close. I got 3 new tires from Wally World for $200 (replaced the spare, too- it was flat, and I got uptight...) all in.

I think I've put over 1,000 miles on the beater benz so far, and it's been everything one could expect a sub-thousand-dollar car to be.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/10/15 6:05 p.m.

that definitely sounds like a caster issue.

bluej SuperDork
2/10/15 6:26 p.m.

How are the brakes?

volvoclearinghouse Dork
2/11/15 8:03 a.m.

I've been to this Wally World a few times for times, and the tire techs seem to know me by now so they let me take a peek at the car while they were working on it (Walmart has a "no customers inside the glass doors policy). They don't have an alignment machine, but by eye I could see the caster was at least set in the right direction (positive). The car tracks and handles perfectly now, and the steering wheel now self-centers. Go figure.

The brakes are really good, the pads have good meat left and it doesn't pull or anything.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
2/16/15 7:13 a.m.

-1 this morning, woke up at 3AM to stoke the wood stove, and plugged in the 300TD. At 6:30 when I went to start it, it fired right up. I even had heat on my drive in.

sethmeister4 Dork
2/16/15 8:55 a.m.


volvoclearinghouse Dork
2/23/15 11:01 a.m.

One little issue I've been having is the auto transmission's shifting seemd somewhat...lazy. With light throttle, it would be in 4th (top gear) by 25 mph and refuse to downshift unless I floored the accelerator to depress the kickdown button. Going up hills with the engine lugging like that was pretty frustrating. Shifts were a bit soft, too, with a a slight engine "flare" in between them.

So what to do? Adjust the VLV. I forget what the acronym stands for, but it's the little vacuum modulator thingie on the side of the fuel injection pump that "leaks" vacuum to control trans shifting. A stubby, flat-bladed screwdriver removed the two screws holding the cover on, and then it was a simple adjustment with a jam nut setup to increase the spring pressure (turn the nut CCW) internally, and replace the cover. Took about 5 minutes. I advanced the nut by about 1-1/2 flats (3/12 of a turn). Now, at light pressure, the 3-4 upshift occurs around 48 mph, and all the other shifts are much firmer and more positive.

Holding gears longer makes the 80 horsepower diesel drive more like a regular car, but the tradeoff is a busy-sounding engine below the 4th gear shift point. I plan on backing off the spring a tiny bit the next time I have a chance to adjust it. I'd like to hit about 40mph for the 3-4 shift, I think.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
3/23/15 7:47 a.m.

So let's see...this lost little puppy followed me home almost exactly 2 months ago today. In that time, the running costs have been:

  • Tax, historic MD tag, title, and 6 months of insurance: $640

  • 4 tires, 2 new, 2 good used, $180

  • Repair exhaust leak, free (clamps and adaptor I had on hand, perhaps $8 worth of stuff

  • Replace thermostat and radiator cap, change coolant, $37

  • Change oil and filter, $31

  • Change tail light bulb, $3

  • Align front end, adjust transmission, add Lucas ATF treatment, $8

I still have three wiper blades and a set of brake pads I haven't installed yet, but will, soon, so I'll go ahead and add the $25 that all set me back, to be fair. That brings the total up to...let's see...$907, of which only 267 were actual repair or maintenance costs. The odometer's broken, but I keep a google-map estimate of miles driven, (since I generally drive it on the same routes) so in the past 2 months I've put about 2,200 miles on her. Fuel usage averages out to about 22 mpg, not great, but including a fair portion of city driving and bad weather. So that's about 15 cents per mile for fuel, and 12 cents per mile for repairs and upkeep.

I re-adjusted the transmission and alignment again last night; I was getting tired of the late upshifts, and the front tires were wearing a bit more on the outside edge. The tranny drives a bit more "normal" now, although still with decently firm shifts, and I dialed in a bit more negative camber and out-toe- which made the steering feel lighter, quicker, and generally better.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
4/4/15 6:37 a.m.

I talked Mrs. VCH into taking the KBW up to visit my parents in NY for Easter. Made the trip last night without any issues knock on wood. I had four tires I'd bought for my brother's Custom Cruiser; 3 of them fit on the roof rack, the 4th shared space with the pack and play, diapers, and our overnight bags in the back. I was pleasantly surprised, being used to road-tripping in Mrs. VCH's 2 door Jimmy, how much SPACE we had in the Merc wagon. And even with three tires strapped on top and not going light on the right pedal, we still managed almost 25 mpg.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
5/5/15 7:05 a.m.

We've passed month 3 so far of the KBW experiment...since the odometer's broken, I decided to simply do maintenance on a time basis. So she got an oil and filter change and a general check-up. Finally fixed the floor under the driver's seat correctly, too, so the seat now adjusts without having to move wooden blocks around. Which means Mrs. VCH can drive it whenever she wants. Picked up a parts car for it, too.

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