So today I headed down to Virginia with the fattest wad of cash in my pocket that's ever been there, plopped it down on the table, and in trade received a signed over title for a 1980 300SD. Might I note, the ORIGINAL title. Issued in 2/11/1980 when the odometer reading was only 10 miles. The excitement was unbearable...
After writing down a number for a recommended mechanic to address some immediate issues, I jumped in, and headed out for the 1.5 hour journey home. Sitting in the car that I knew was now mine, I familiarized myself with the orientation of controls and the aftermarket radio. No amount of fiddling with the climate control would make anything happen but high heat softly blowing from the vents (vent selection works, but nothing, not even "off", will disable the heater). Settled for closing the vents, which sufficed just fine. After stopping to fill up the tank, I remembered that this car has a *working* sunroof (a first for me!), so I opened it up for the cruise. In neutral, the bad motor mount was apparent, as there was knocking sound, but when shifting into drive while stationary or driving, I couldn't really even tell. It's a lot smoother ride than my previous cars.
I also filled up the bone dry windshield washer reservoir, and then met my second disappointment - the wipers stuck and wouldn't return to their original position, staying halfway across the windshield. With repeated efforts, they jerkily made it back down, wiped again, and got stuck in the same place. But after a few minutes of this, they operated flawlessly! However, although I can hear a motor when I press the washer button, I have not managed to get any fluid to flow through. Probably the nozzles are clogged. I will fiddle around with a needle or something tomorrow.
Hit the road, and although I'd test driven a little bit, the first highway back was a good 15 miles of sharp windy curves and a lot of hills. The car handled better than any other car I have ever driven, and then some. But I was in for a real treat once I got to the DC beltway. Rush hour passed but still significant volumes of traffic, I closed the sunroof, hit the gas and accelerated onto the wide freeway. Before I knew it I was passing everyone I could without noticing. Where was the come-and-go vibration at certain speeds? The annoyingly loud engine noise? The feel of bumps on the road? The lack of acceleration power? It was quiet, smooth as glass, had more acceleration than any other Mercedes diesel I've owned, and was just *fun*. (In driving my girl's Oldsmobile Alero for the last week, I was seriously missing the "fun" aspect of driving...).
I looked over the console - disappointment 3 struck - the odometer had about 12,000 more miles than the description of the car mentioned, and wasn't going up as I drove. How long might it have been this way? I started wondering what other nasty surprises I was going to find, wondering how badly I'd been scammed. Then I remembered that I was really enjoying the car, and all the nice attributes. I realized that I was probably being irrational, and moreover, I didn't care. It was clearly worth every penny I'd paid, even if I didn't know exactly how many miles were on it. The seller had told me that it had been sitting in storage for 2 years, which explained why the wipers didn't work right away but started working perfectly after some use. Maybe the odometer got stuck in that time too, and he genuinely didn't know. He seemed very purposeful in pointing out every flaw he was aware of, so I decided it was utterly silly to think negative thoughts. Besides, there was 267 miles on the tripometer, and when I pressed the button, it reset to zero without issue (never did count up either though). The description had said 175,000 miles, but that's clearly an estimate number, and not really THAT far off from the odometer.
The rest of the ride home was mostly just getting familiar with the car's size and specifics. I didn't have a chance to see what sort of speed it could reach due to traffic, but I sure enjoyed the ride. I did check the pictures of the car when I got home (linked in the first post), and it looks like the odometer is stuck at 3 miles more than the picture shows. What to guess from this I don't know. I sent the seller an inquiry to see if he knew anything about it or maybe how to fix it.
So then, we decided to head to a city about 20 minutes away, to do some thrift store shopping (some special sale running until midnight). In the darkness, I found that the dome light went out as soon as I closed the door, and I could not get it to come back on. The farthest-forward position on the switch seems to only illuminate the light when there is a door open, and the middle and rear position don't do anything. Not sure exactly what is going on with that yet. But then I started the car, and turned on the lights. Suddenly, WOW, that's a beautiful instrument panel! The lighting is just *perfect*!! I tried the adjustment knob, felt some friction in the turn, and got a whole lot of flickering and intermittent illumination. So just turned it back and forth over and over, until it started working smoothly and correctly. I guess it had some corrosion or something from disuse and/or sitting in it. Just needed a little use.
As we headed down the road at night, the pleasure of driving the car at night really shone through. The headlights were much better than on the W124, although they randomly changed brightness occasionally as we drove (no ideas here, but I have yet to look at fuses, etc.). Pushed it up to 85mph, heard a fair bit of wind noise on the driver door, probably because the door seal needs replaced. Indulged in some 80's cassette tapes at the thrift store, and ended up blasting Clarence Carter for the ride home. It will need new speakers at some point to handle any amount of bass or volume as they'll start crackling, but they work pretty well at normal listening levels. With the music up I easily passed everyone else heading down a 4-lane road, and tore through a roundabout at enough speed to hear the tires squeal on the turns, but the handling was incredible. Headed home with a smile on my face the whole way.