Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Project 1987 Mercedes 300TDT - Part 1: Introduction

Back in March we started looking for a new car for Lauren. The Element while a great family vehicle only had 2 seats in the back, and figuring that Claire wouldn't want to ride on the roof, we had to get something else.

Growing up we had a 1971 Mercedes 300D which we all loved, and recently I've been reading about Mercedes Diesel Wagons with some interest. Turns out the the 1987 300TDT Wagon is a pretty rare breed with several things unique to that year; an extremely overbuilt inline 6 cylinder turbo-charged diesel being one of them. These cars are said to routinely get 500K plus when maintained decently, so I set out to see if I could find one.

There were only ~3000 or so of them in the states back in 1987 and due to rust and accidents, likely far fewer in working condition currently. These numbers plus the fact that this specific model has become quite a hot commodity recently due to the ease of SVO and WVO conversions had me wondering if I would find one worth buying locally.

Good old showed that there was actually one for sale in VA, I went and looked at it, and as soon as I gave it a onece-over, I could tell this one was a gem. The previous owner had taken great care of it as well as putting about $2K worth of repairs/maintenance into it within the last year including the rear hydraulic system and the sunroof (can be a real pain!).




I've got some plans for this car both big and small, however the first project was to get it up to snuff for Laurens daily driver/grocery getter. This involved getting the maintenance schedule up to a proper baseline (I'll go over that more in Part 2), and some various cush and comfort projects.

Heres the To-Do list for both big and small in the order I'll likely tackle them. If all goes according to plan I'll be posting these as they are undertaken and actually be able to finish the list with some money in my pocket!

1. Assessment and setting a maintenance baseline - Done (look for Part 2 soon)
2. Cruise Control - Likely a DIY project
3. New stereo.
4. AC Upgrade and Recharge
5. Timing Chain and Vacuum Pump
6. Window tint/Doors apart projects (speakers, wiring, soundproofing...)
7. WVO Conversion (dual tank pre-warming)

"When I Get To Them" projects:
1. Converting to auto switches for all windows and sunroof.
2. Replace all aging vacuum parts including dash vent actuators.
3. While the dash is off, tackle various other projects that require it.
4. Headlamp wipers
5. Better batter/"built-in" inverter with accessory outlet.

All indications point to this car being around when Claire is learning to drive, so I've got a great solid foundation in this vehicle to put some real effort into, and I intend to do so. Stay tuned for future posts about the progress I'm making.


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