If you should choose to dine exclusively at fast food joints, you will likely shorten your life by decades, and when you do die, you will require a hearse with Kenworth on its grille. In contrast, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Benz W123 can sup on the dregs of burger joints with impunity, but will its price make it a happy meal?
The Mercedes Benz W123 is legendary for its hewn from a block of granite durability and potential for out-living the sun. It has been the vehicle of choice for third world taxi drivers for years, and was selected by James May as his trans-Botswana mount.
Maintaining an even more robust rep is the OM617 diesel five that powers many a W123, including today’s 1984 300TD Turbo wagon. It’s not uncommon for the Mercedes oil burner to rock more than a quarter million miles, and some to send their odometers around the horn multiple times more.
This ’84 wagon looks to be in exactly the kind of condition you would expect if it were owned by a Birkenstock-wearing hemp-smoker of a liberal arts college professor with a penchant for hugging the bark off of trees. They’re not only likely to advocate saving the whales, but also to collect the whole set. That might not fit the current owner to a tee, but that’s at least the impression this 205,000-mile car’s condition imbues.
It’s rough around the edges, the paint appearing drier than Carrie Nation, and sporting an oily yellow patch below the fuel door typical of old diesels and unrepentant bed wetters. The rear bumper is a little eff’d up, while the left front light is a little more so. Other than that the body looks straight and there’s no evidence – in the pictures or description at least – of major car cancer. Inside, the MB-tex looks worn and dirtier than a Lohan but at least intact. Not so are the seat-back netting that will never make the grade on The Deadliest Catch. The dash appears un-cracked and rocks a Becker Grand Prix cassette deck so you can make use of all those Steely Dan tapes your older sister left when she went to away college.
It’s in the back where this Benz gets interesting as about four grocery bags’ worth of space has been taken up by a Greasecar SVO fuel tank. No, Ford’s Special Vehicles Operations didn’t work their magic on this car’s fuel system, that SVO instead stands for Straight Vegetable Oil – which is the secondary fuel source for this duel-fuel car. Straight vegetable oil – as opposed to gay oil, which I guess is all being used to make Astroglide – can power the diesel engine only once it has come up to operating temperature, and the fuel needs to be pre-heated as well. That means that the car has to be started on diesel, and then switched over once the temp gauge has made its climb, and you’ve made your getaway after jacking Jack in the Box for all its fryer oil.
SVO does not pack the same BTUs as does diesel – but usually more so than gasoline – so it makes sense to use the Canola judiciously, perhaps for long highway stretches or, with its KFC-emulating odor, for providing a more pleasant way to asphyxiate yourself in an enclosed garage if you’re of a suicidal mind.
Before planning any irrevocable decisions such as that, you better know that this Benz does require some wrenching before once again going into battle. The seller says that the car overheats – and that the radiator water was muddy. He seems to think that is caused by a blocked radiator, however, I theorize that it’s due to an unblocked gasket somewhere between an oil passage and one for the coolant. That would be bad.
The seller says that the tranny is but a year old, and the investment in new brakes was made just a week ago before the overheating cast a dark cloud over the car. His inability to diagnose and repair could be to someone’s benefit as he’s asking only $1,500 for the car, and is not only willing to entertain offers, but will entertain them in all-caps.
What do you think about the car for that price? It certainly has potential having been carved out of the same stuff as Thor’s hammer, and already prepped to run on the squeezings from either olive trees or a freshman class‘ Stridex pads. But then there’s that ominous notation about the muddy radiator water being passed off as a clog. That’s like being told that not all spiders are deadly and so the one that just crawled in your ear is probably nothing to worry about.
But back to the car, it’s $1,500 for a diesel MB with a Greascar kit (which goes for $1,130 from the hippies at Greasecar) that needs some work. Even if it’s a head gasket that needs to be replaced, that shouldn’t be too big a deal to anyone half-way handy with a wrench, or a good relationship with someone who is (cough-blowjob-cough).
So, is this vegi-300TD worth that $1,500? Or, would letting that much money grease the seller’s palm be non to slick?
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