Author Topic: My Custom 1980 300SD Project  (Read 173813 times)

Squiggle Dog

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My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« on: 04 August 2010, 06:15 PM »
I used to own a 1979 300SD that was my daily driver for 2 years. I got it for free on craigslist, neglected by the previous owner, already parted out, not running, missing the entire exhaust, no alternator, no grille, lights, bumper, valance, no fuses, no air cleaner, all seats were down on the springs, interior was full of water, etc.--and no title!

After a few trips to the wrecking yards, the dealer, and some online resources at a total cost of maybe $800USD I had a car that ran and drove like it was new. I was a regular on this forum at the time.

I customized the 300SD by installing Euro-spec headlights, a new Blaupunkt Bahamas CD player, and converting to manual windows. I also used clean-burning B99 biodiesel.

It was a truly great car. I only sold it because I had my heart set on a nice W111 fintail that I was going to install a turbo diesel engine in. I ended up only getting about $700USD for the 300SD after eBay and PayPal fees and the W111 deal fell through, leaving me without a car.

Here's a write-up I did about it for a contest: http://www.mercedessource.com/galleries/Lost%20and%20Found%20-%20Stories%20of%20Great%20Rescues/image?page=2

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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #1 on: 04 August 2010, 06:37 PM »
Since I needed a car (public transportation is expensive, slow, and scary in my area), I looked on craigslist for another diesel Mercedes. I found a 1968 W110 200D that was supposed to have a 80,000 original miles and 4,000 miles on a rebuilt engine, new clutch, new brakes, new tires, working air conditioning, and a tiny bit of rust on the rocker panels.

It ended up having an old-looking and leaking engine, was used as a daily commuter for over 10 years back in the 1980s, had pine cones and needles all over it, clutch problems, old brakes that failed completely, rotted bias-ply tires, lukewarm air conditioning, and large rust holes in the rocker panels and floor. I talked the owner down to $1,200.

It's been my daily driver for about 8 months now and I recently completed a 2,000 mile round trip from Washington to Utah and back ( http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/showthread.php?t=276086&page=4 ). I have gone through most of the mechanicals and want to replace the rocker panels, fix the floors, and touch-up the paint. Right now the fuel injectors are being rebuilt and the pump calibrated.

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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #2 on: 04 August 2010, 06:45 PM »
I missed my old 300SD and wanted another like what I had before. I rode the train down to Eugene, Oregon to look at a 1980 300SD I had seen for sale on craigslist.

The funny thing is I made the exact same trip a week earlier to look at a 1979 DB404 Milan Brown 300SD with sunroof that looked identical to the one I used to own and looked like it was in mint condition in the pictures. The seller said the paint looked great just as it did in the pictures and that it had a rebuilt engine, new tires, and good weatherstripping.

I spent 6 hours riding the train and bus down to look at the car. When I saw it in person the lights were smashed and the bumper had the rubber peeled off of it. The owner said his wife backed into it but it also was side swiped on the driver side. The hood was tilted also.

The paint was orange peeled and bubbling off all over, almost every panel of the car seemed wavy, and the sunroof had caulking in it. The tires and wheels were mismatched, all of the trim seemed to be damaged, and the windshield was cracked. All of the rubber on the car was rotted off and stick-on weatherstripping tape was placed next to it. The rear tow eye looked like it was broken. The engine sounded nice and did appear to have been rebuilt, though.

The interior of the car was sun-baked and even the door panels were split and cracked. The CD player had been stolen and the top of the steering wheel was bare metal. I drove the car and the steering was very sloppy and the car had very little power. It turns out the pictures on craigslist were about 12 years old! The fuel tank was near empty also (nice).

The car was listed on craigslist for $1,500 and there was a $1,700 price tag in the window. We had agreed on $1,200 before I saw the car, but once seeing it in person I knew I wouldn't be willing to pay any real money for the car, though the engine itself was worth the price. I got back on the bus and train for another 6 hours home.

Before I looked at this car I saw an ad on craigslist for a 1980 300SD with sunroof for $700 or offer. I am colorblind and it looked like the dark Walnut Brown color I have been searching for. Right when I saw that it had a sunroof I thought to myself, “There is my car!” But, I already planned on looking at and buying the Milan Brown 1979 300SD since it was supposed to have a great paint job, no rust, and a rebuilt engine so I was a bit torn because though the Milan Brown one seemed great judging by the ad, I really wanted a Walnut Brown car. I think DB479 Walnut Brown was a special order color not usually offered for the W116 chassis so I know it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I emailed the seller and he said it was black, but at least that was my second choice because it’s not a bad color, and if I wanted to change the color the hidden spots that were missed wouldn’t stick out badly since Mercedes used a black primer anyway. The seller gave me the VIN number and when I looked it up it said that the car was originally DB479 Walnut Brown! I was so happy because if I had the car painted back to the original color I would only have to have the outer shell and jambs painted.

The bad thing about the car is that not only was it out of state, but it had a transmission leak that apparently would not allow the car to be driven and the seller wanted someone to haul it away, whereas the 1979 Milan Brown car was supposedly ready to drive, easy to get to by train, and was supposed to be a near perfect car.

I emailed the seller of the 1980 300SD again letting him know I wanted to see the car and planned on having it transported since it was not drivable, but he did not respond to further emails, so I gave up and went to look at the 1979 instead.

A few days after seeing the 1979 I saw an ad in the Eugene craigslist for a rust and dent-free 1980 300SD with sunroof. The price was $1,200 and the ad said the car ran and drove fine. I emailed the seller and asked what color the car was and he said black and that he didn’t have the VIN number handy. He said he just drove the car over 600 miles from California and that it had new driveshafts, flex discs, differential, yoke, axle shafts, brake master cylinder, and an alignment.

I told him that I was a little short on cash but that I was seriously interested and could pay him $1,100 if he would meet me at the station in Eugene. He reluctantly accepted the offer and I made plans to make another trip to Eugene by train and bus to look at this one.

I was studying the pictures and noticed that the car in this ad had the same “characteristics” as the Walnut Brown-painted-black car that I had been really wanting but never heard back from the seller. I developed a theory that it was the same car and hoped this was true. Both cars had peeling black paint, a broken headlight corner, and a missing rear wheel cap.

When I saw the car in person it was indeed the same car! I was so happy. Not only was it the car I wanted, it was actually drivable now. The clear coat on the paint was peeling off, but the car appeared to be almost completely rust free and the body was very straight. I looked at the color code under the hood and it was indeed originally Walnut Brown, my first color choice, then repainted my second color choice.

I bought the car and drove off in it. The CD player didn’t work even though I thought it was supposed to. The car seemed really sluggish and it took about 5 minutes for it to get up to 60 MPH. I noticed that the fuel tank was near empty so I pulled off of the freeway for fuel and then the car wouldn’t go above 10 MPH. After I filled the tank I checked the fluids and the coolant reservoir was empty. I bought coolant it was a whole jug low! Then I noticed that several of the vacuum lines were disconnected so I reattached them.

The car instantly had more power and I drove most of the way home with no problems. The steering was great. When I got off of the freeway by my house the car starting being sluggish again and when accelerating from a stop it would crawl at 5 MPH for several seconds before slowly picking up speed. I got home okay and it went 250 miles on 3/8 of a tank!

I checked the fluids the next morning and they all looked fine but when I drove the car to work it was being slow and wouldn’t shift gears so I turned around for home but decided to give it another try when I got to the house. It did shift, but much later than it should and was erratic. I had to two-foot the car until it warmed up because apparently it wasn’t made with an idle screw? It felt strange driving home and when I got near the house the temperature gauge starting climbing.

I also noticed that the tires which were supposed to have 75% tread were bald and the chromed bundts are garbage because most of the chrome flaked off and all that is left is scarred and corroded metal. The interior is rough and missing the back seat. The driver door also doesn’t shut well. It is being parked until I can sort through it completely. It has a good body and sunroof, was originally the color I wanted, it got me home to Tacoma, Washington from Eugene, Oregon and I am grateful for that, but it is going to need a lot of work before it’s road worthy and looking good.

I know finding a Walnut Brown W116 300SD with a sunroof and good body somewhat locally at an affordable price is near impossible so I am still happy with my decision. I will just be driving the 200D for longer than I planned. I am really excited to fix it up and start customizing it (I will be adding Euro headlights, 6.9 bumpers, rear headrests, factory front and rear heated seats, 15” Centra wheels, chrome fender trim, convert the windows, sunroof, and heating system to manual, add a Blaupunkt Bahamas CD deck, two tone the interior in brown and tan, and eventually paint the car in its original Walnut Brown with Colorado Beige two tone).

« Last Edit: 04 August 2010, 07:04 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #3 on: 04 August 2010, 07:31 PM »
Some time has gone by and work has been done to the 300SD.

I bought some 15" Centra rims to replace the junk corroded 14" bundts. I need a replacement gold star logo and lock screw. I found some usable tires by the dumpster at work that I had installed on them. The front tires are Goodyear Aquatreds which I think have a nice design. The rears are Toyo truck tires! The car has a much higher "donk" stance now.

I have also installed the 6.9 bumpers. I really like the clean look of them. I had been on the hunt for the elusive grille guard option for years but have given up. I did a sketch of what I wanted the car to look like with the grille guard set.

I have an almost perfect spare brown dashboard, console, and steering wheel to replace the worn and sun-damaged parts. I probably need better door panels and definitely need better seats. I want to two-tone the interior by using brown door panel inserts and center seat sections with my tan interior.

I plan on converting to manual windows, sunroof, and heat. I know someone who has a set of manual window regulators, manual sunroof parts from a W123 will fit, and I have at least 2 cars worth of complete manual W116 heater assemblies (with and without air conditioning). I already have an excellent zebrano wood heater faceplate and console piece without window switches. I would also like a zebrano shift knob.

I have factory W116 front and rear heated seat parts that are going in at some point. I also have rear headrests that will be going in. Euro headlights will be a must. I'd love to find fog light guards. I'm going to be installing a Blaupunkt Bahamas CD/MP3 player like my last 300SD had.

As you can see, the paint is bad. I want to repaint it to the original Walnut Brown with Colorado Beige from the middle door line down.

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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #4 on: 05 August 2010, 07:11 PM »
Some good news today! I stopped at a wrecking yard to look for an injector line to custom make a pump timing tool out of. I didn't find any injector lines, but I did find some other stuff.

The first car I saw was a 1978 W116 450SE Euro model. Someone had already taken the right Euro headlight, left lens, and wiper arms. The wiper motors were still there. I would have taken the motors if the wiring harness wasn't such a time-consuming thing to remove in one piece. I might get them later.

It had manual windows, so I took all 4 regulators! The cranks were missing, unfortunately. It had a saffron velour interior. I took the velour door panel inserts but not the rest of the door panels because they were damaged. Someone had already taken the wooden console piece. I did take the wooden SLS adjustment switch housing--why, I don't know.

Someone had already taken the rear seat but the front velour seats were still there. The seats were in excellent condition structurally but the skins were torn. I took the headrests in case I ever get velour seats and want to add rear headrests to them.

I got the rubber pieces for the trunk so now I can install my trunk triangle.

I browsed the yard some more and saw a W107 450SLC that had nothing of interest in it. Then I saw a W123 240D that had all 4 window cranks in good condition in the saffron color to match my interior! It also had a very nice horn pad logo.

I also saw a W126 560SEL which had nothing of interest in it. Then, I saw a Euro-spec W123 that caught my eye. It had a manual sunroof so I removed the entire assembly to install in my W116. It was very difficult to squeeze out of the car, yet it fit in the trunk of my roommate's 1965 W111 220S perfectly!

The Euro W123 had headrests in the front and rear with really interesting burgundy checkered cloth interior. I took a look at the shift knob and noticed it had 5 forward gears! So, now I have the sought-after W123 5 speed manual transmission. Should I install it in my 300SD or sell it? Hmmm...

I'm now getting very excited about my 300SD.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Big_Richard

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #5 on: 06 August 2010, 05:53 AM »
ummm, who did that pencil drawing of the w116? thats awesome!

I like those wheels  8)

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #6 on: 06 August 2010, 06:40 AM »
ummm, who did that pencil drawing of the w116? thats awesome!

I like those wheels  8)

I did the pencil drawing. Thanks. I like the wheels, too, and hope I can find a replacement gold star or hubcap and a replacement lock screw.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Big_Richard

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #7 on: 06 August 2010, 07:11 AM »
Are you employed to draft technical drawings like this or is it just a hobby?

Thats not the work of an amature it looks pretty professional to me  8)

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #8 on: 06 August 2010, 07:45 PM »
Are you employed to draft technical drawings like this or is it just a hobby?

Thats not the work of an amature it looks pretty professional to me  8)

Thanks for the compliment. I used to draw a lot when I was in high school. Now that I've graduated I've had low-income jobs (I make $16,000USD a year as a furniture mover). I'd love to have a career in art, but have been so busy with work that I haven't had time lately to hone my skills. I haven't lost my talent, it just takes much longer than it used to. I want to practice more and then eventually work my way into commissioned art.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #9 on: 06 August 2010, 07:50 PM »
Here are some pics of the Getrag 717.400 5 speed (and some other finds). I also got the shift linkage and pedal assembly. Should I do it? Install it in my 300SD? A 5 cylinder turbo diesel with a 5 speed? It is going to have manual windows, sunroof, and heat, so a manual transmission wouldn't be out of line...

If I do install the 5 speed in my 300SD, I will need a 617 diesel flywheel and maybe a W116 pedal set.

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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Big_Richard

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #10 on: 06 August 2010, 08:03 PM »
a 5 speed w116 would be absolutely awesome, i don't know what your waiting for, id do it no questions asked!  :o

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #11 on: 06 August 2010, 08:13 PM »
a 5 speed w116 would be absolutely awesome, i don't know what your waiting for, id do it no questions asked!  :o

True, and I think I got a good deal on the transmission. ;) The automatic in there now takes over 5 minutes of running before it will move the car and it shifts late until it warms up. There's another excuse to do the swap. ;D I bet it would be the only 5 speed 300SD in the world.
Stop paying for animal cruelty and slaughter. Go vegan! https://challenge22.com/

1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 350,000+

Yesmar

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #12 on: 07 August 2010, 12:41 AM »
i like it man, deff. do the 5speed. 

Stick with drawing. i was going to take 1 year off high school before i went to college well somehow i got sucked into a cycle working at hotels and here i am 5 years later just barley covering my monthly bills, and i finally got so sick of it that im starting to take classes at my local community college this coming semester... its never a good time to go back to school so you might as well just do it now.

Anyway. i really like the idea of a manual turbo diesel w116. And i think your grill guard is going to be very unique. Good luck keep us posted!
- Ramsey

Big_Richard

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #13 on: 07 August 2010, 01:31 AM »


And i think your grill guard is going to be very unique. Good luck keep us posted!


It's not that unique, its actually a real option that was available, ive seen them in the flesh before  8)

They certainly turn those US bumpers in to serious business, telling anyone in front to GTF out of the way  8)
« Last Edit: 07 August 2010, 01:33 AM by Major Tom 6.9 »

Big_Richard

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project
« Reply #14 on: 07 August 2010, 01:38 AM »
one of these days im going to purchase a dime store 300SD and have it shipped to australia, rebuild the drive train and transplant everything into a RHD 280S chassis.
Then I'll have Australias only 300SD and in RHD!   8)

What you guys take for granted over there are just not even available here, sure, we can buy 450's for $500 but who cares, i want a 300SD  8)