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New '79 300SD Owner

Started by Deutschtexaner, 10 March 2023, 07:54 AM



My name is Robin and I am new to the forum but I have been reading and researching a lot on here. I figured I should go ahead and join. I recently acquired a 1979 300SD. For the last several years the car has only been driven periodically. It has mostly sat neglected out in the Texas sun. I do not know much about the car's history prior because the title was never properly transferred and so I am going to have to apply for a lost/bonded title for the car. Kind of a headache, but I have had to do this with another car in the past, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Long story long...

It all started when my brother purchased this car from a mechanic shop about 4 years ago. He had the title but he never transferred it correctly. Instead, he sold it to my dad. My dad drove the car maybe twice before deciding it was too hard for him to get in and out of. My dad was given the title but also never properly transferred it. Then he ended up moving to a retirement community and lost the title somewhere in the process.

My nephew was going to buy the car from my dad and remove the engine for a truck he was working on but never came up with the time or funds to buy the car. He did drive the car for a while and kept the oil changed. He bought a few parts (some new motor mounts, a rear window gasket, etc.) but never installed them. He has several project cars, old trucks, and race cars, this was not a priority for him. He also never paid my dad for it.

Anyways, a year ago my dad called me and told me that he wanted me to have the car. At the time, my nephew was still convinced he was going to buy it and do all this engine-swapping. So, I just let it go. I wanted the car but I didn't want to start drama with my nephew over it.

Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, my husband (who works with my brother and my nephew) said that my nephew told him he should take that old car (meaning the Mercedes) and work a deal with my dad for it. The car was still parked at my brother's shop. It has been this whole time. The next day my husband charged the battery and it started right up. He drove it home and now I have a Mercedes parked in my garage. A Mercedes that I have been wanting and painfully watching deteriorate for several years now. 

My history with cars...

I used to have a Mercedes 280SLK. This was many years ago and it was basically showroom new when I bought it. It had less than 15k miles on it. I loved that car. That was before the financial crisis of 2008 or what I like to call "the second great depression." My husband and I lost everything in 2008. Our business, our house, my car, my horses. We lost everything. I am just grateful we didn't have kids at the time because our lives drastically changed. It was rough for a while. But life goes on and we learned some valuable lessons.

A few years later, I ended up with a green 1998 Saab 9-3. At first, I was not proud of that car. I thought it was one of the ugliest cars I had ever seen. But, somehow I ended up falling madly in love with that old Saab.

When I had more money I replaced it with a newer Saab. I bought a 2011 Saab 9-3 that I ended up trading for a 2010 9-3 convertible with fewer miles on the odometer. Then I bought a 2002 Saab 9-3 just for fun. To have as a project car. I began the process of rebuilding the engine and restoring it. Something I never in my life would have thought I would be doing.

I found a passion for cars that I didn't even know I had. I was so obsessed with Saab. I even had a nice vintage leather jacket from Saab. I am still heartbroken that GM did what it did to Saab. Truly unforgivable.

Everything, I know about cars and engines I learned by tinkering under the hood of my Saabs. It was a hobby I truly enjoyed and life was pretty good.

But as luck would have it our home was destroyed by a flash flood.

The flood happened very quickly.  I have never seen anything like what we saw that night and I hope I never do again. There was a creek near our home and we were watching it because it would get high during heavy rain but nothing like what happened that night.

By the time we realized what was happening the situation had already turned dire. My convertible, which had been parked in our driveway at the time, was already underwater. It took seconds for things to escalate. With a death grip on my young daughter and my dog, we waded through fast-moving waist-deep water to get to my husband's truck. We just barely made it out. We also rescued two neighbors along with their dogs that night. It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I still get upset thinking about what could have happened. Water is very powerful.

We watched from higher ground as many of our things were swept away and/or destroyed. The next day we went back to assess the damage. It was bad. My convertible was a total loss and the insurance didn't pay me anywhere near what it was worth. Just enough to pay off the small loan I still had on it. My project car which had been in a separate single-bay garage on jack stands was demolished. Of course, it was not insured. The water had not only destroyed the garage but had knocked the car off the jack stands and caused irreparable damage. Many expensive parts yet to be installed were swept away in the water never to be seen again.  After some time we were able to move back into the house but we did not want to stay there. Every time it looked like rain we got nervous.

In the end, I was left with no car and was stuck borrowing a minivan from my dad to get back and forth to work. My husband took a new job working for my brother a couple of towns over and we ended up moving to that town and into a house where we don't have to worry about floods. But this made my commute to work and getting my daughter back and forth to school much more difficult. Then Covid happened and I got laid off.

Since Covid, I have become a stay-at-home mom. I home-school my daughter and telecommute to work and I haven't owned a car since losing my Saabs. Until now.

The Car...

1979 Merc.jpg

I will not lie. My original plan was to sell this car and see if I could find an older Saab. I can't promise that I won't possibly still do that one day. My heart will forever belong to Saab. (It's an illness for sure)

The Good...

It runs. It almost runs well. There are some issues that need to be addressed.
It's not rusted.
The body is straight. (It has one door with a ding from my brother backing into it with a truck and the front bumper appears to have been knocked at some point, it's not dented or bent but it just sits a little crooked.)
It's all there, mostly. (I am missing the aluminum trim for that rear window)
The front seats and carpet are all in good shape. (Although, the seats feel a little wonky. Like they need new cushioning.)

The Bad...

The paint has been destroyed. Parts of it look okay but the trunk and hood had peeling clear coat. My nephew decided to take a super high-powered pressure washer to it. As you might imagine that took off some of the paint along with the peeling clear coat. The rear and front window gaskets need to be replaced. The front is not as bad as the rear window. That one was leaking onto the rear deck. I pulled the back seats out along with the original carpet/padding from the rear deck. That carpet and padding were rotten, covered with mold, and totally gross. It had to go.
The back seat bench has been eaten up with rust. I don't believe there is any hope for it to be saved.
The seat backs can maybe be sandblasted and recovered.
Luckily the rust seems to have been contained to the seat springs.
The rear deck, floor pan, and all around the trunk are in good shape. Other than a couple of areas with slight surface rust, there doesn't appear to be anything major.
The front dash is cracked.
The wood is intact but the lacquer is peeling up in some areas.
Nothing works. The windows don't work. The AC which was retrofitted with R134 doesn't work. I was told the heater works periodically. Although, I am not sure how. And something is draining the battery. So if you park it you have to unhook the battery or it will be dead the next time you try to start it. Even if you only have the ground connected. You have to completely disconnect the battery or it will drain it. Not sure how but it does.

So the car has some problems, but has a free car ever come without a host of problems? Probably not.

The car talks. I know I sound crazy but it talks. I thought it was just me but apparently, it talked to my husband too. I don't know how to explain this but he drove the car once and was hell-bent on keeping it.

I was cleaning it out and it talked to me the whole time. It was so grateful to be in a nice garage and so happy to be getting some TLC. It said to me, "I promise if you treat me right, I will treat you right. Just give me a chance."

So my husband and I have both found ourselves weirdly attached to this car and I guess the plan now is to completely restore it. Crazy? Yep. Stupid? Debatable. Am I having fun? Absolutely, I am.

This last week I have found myself spending several hours a day with this car cleaning, tinkering, and learning about it. I have been playing music from 1979 and on into the early '80s when I am in the garage. I think the car really likes that music. (Look I know I sound nuts but it does)

Anyways, sorry this was so long but I wanted to give a proper history and introduction to my car and myself. I am sure I will be hanging out on here a lot and for a long time, lurking, learning, and asking questions here and there, until I have something of value to add. Glad to have found this place and I am looking forward to absorbing as much knowledge as I can. If you made it to the end of this then thank you for reading my story. You're a real MVP for making it through the whole thing.
1979 300SD with 198K Miles - Our Slow Rolling Family Project Car


Wow I think this takes the cake for longest introduction!
Welcome to the W116 asylum 8)
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber


Fabulous intro!  I too understand your Saab love.  Over the years I had 4 of them, including a 1966 2-stroke 95 wagon in Maine.  In winter you had to heat up the oil so it would mix with gas.  Anyway, hope you stick with it on the 300SD.  Everybody loves these old W116's.  Cheers,
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0


Welcome....this generation of Mercedes is an addictive problem for many.  I just recently pruchased a 1980 300SD and it is a beauty.  It joins my current fleet of 83 380SL, 78 300CD and 90 420SEL.  They are all wonderful cars in their own way and I am always looking for one to add.  Have fun and enjoy the glorious ride.
1978 300CD
1980 300SD
1983 380SL
1990 420SEL


Hey Robin! Welcome to THE PLACE for 116 nuts on the 'net.

Interesting to hear your Saab history! My automotive journey started with a '91 900. Next was a '93 9000 Aero (marvelous car), and I had a bunch more classic 900s from 8-valve non-turbos to SPGs. More recently, my wife had a beater '08 9-3.

I had a BMW episode (E34 M5, E32 Alpina B11 and E38 750iL) before getting my '79 300SD, and now I feel like I've finally found home.

I know what you mean about Saab staying under your skin though... I haven't owned a classic 900 since 2015, but I still find myself called to work on them on occasion. I turn my brain off and the hands just do the work... it's very weird. I suppose that speaks to how often I was wrenching on them, which is a good or bad thing depending on your point of view...

A black '89 SPG which I picked up non-running for $800 back in 2011 has recently come up for sale. I've driven and worked on it a couple of time since I sold it in 2015... I put a small fortune worth of parts into that car while I owned it and it still drives like new with over 600,000km on the original engine and transmission. Part of me is tempted... but I think I want to focus on a nice R107 next.

Hope you can get the title sorted, and wish you all the best with getting 'er back up to snuff. There ARE a lot of parts out there. As long as it's not too rusty, it's worth putting in the work -- it's a car that'll genuinely last the rest of your life.

Nice colour, too ;)
1979 300SD #6680 - Astralsilber - 153,750km
1998 E300 Turbodiesel - Rauchsilber - 172,000km


Thank you, everyone. I apologize again for such a long introduction. I am not normally that long-winded. Glad to hear there are some fellow Saab lovers here.

Quote from: JeffCullen on 10 March 2023, 10:27 PMI had a BMW episode (E34 M5, E32 Alpina B11 and E38 750iL) before getting my '79 300SD, and now I feel like I've finally found home.

OMG! That's funny because you just made me realize that I completely blocked out my BMW episode. LOL! I totally forgot about it. I did have one of those actually. I replaced my flooded Saabs with a 2011 BMW Convertible 135i with 55k on the odometer. It gave me nothing but problems. It was a cute little car and when it was running it was fun to drive. But it was constantly going back to the shop. The day I bought it they were "working on it" so my purchase was contingent on it being right. A few days later they delivered it to me at work and it broke down on my way home. I spent months in and out of the shop with the dealer on that car before I finally cut my losses and told them to come pick it up and just keep it. I forgot all about that. LOL! It was just a total lemon. When it did run, it was amazing. I would definitely give BMW another go if given the right opportunity.

Anyways, I am so glad to be here. I am just spending all my time searching and reading through all this forum has to offer. This is one heck of a knowledge base that ya'll have here.
1979 300SD with 198K Miles - Our Slow Rolling Family Project Car


Welcome Robin from Downunder! Once you  get that tub sorted, you'll wonder why you ever bothered with those other cars!
Says he after 10 Renaults?!


Welcome to the group. I am a 1980 300SD owner since 2007 and have addressed many of the items you are currently facing, I assure you you WILL be happy with this machine as you go through the restoration!
By the way, I am a former 1980 Saab EMS owner and agree they are a disease (I`d still own Saab if we hadn't outgrown it),
I am located up here in Amarillo and frequent Austin almost monthly. Feel free to ask questions.


What a great (and at times, terrifying) story! Thanks for sharing. If you're nuts for thinking your car likes period correct tunes, then so am I. ELO is her favorite :)

What color is your car? Tough to tell exactly from the lighting in the pics. Probably Astral Silber, but looks a bit like Pastel Gray, which is what mine is and why I ask (never seen another one).


What a wonderful story!
So well written!
Yes, with dramatic "roller-coaster" life events but that adds to the bright future you have ahead with your new jewel.
Welcome to W116 ownership and to the forum.
And yes, cars talking to me is an almost daily thing. But the worse is that I talk back to them, so it's a dialogue really  :)
Needless to say, don't hesitate to ask questions, even if their trivial, we're here for exactly that reason.


Thanks, everyone.

Quote from: sutekh on 12 March 2023, 11:51 AMWhat color is your car? Tough to tell exactly from the lighting in the pics. Probably Astral Silber, but looks a bit like Pastel Gray, which is what mine is and why I ask (never seen another one).

It is Astral Silber with a black MB-Tex interior. Unfortunately, my paint is not in great shape.

I've really started to dig into this car in the last week and I have a lot of work to do. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by where to start at the moment. I have a list that seems to keep growing. But searching through the forum and reading posts here has been great.

Thanks again for having me. I look forward to learning and sharing. 
1979 300SD with 198K Miles - Our Slow Rolling Family Project Car


One tip I can give is not to tackle too many things at once, it's a sure way to get overwhelmed and frustrated.
Start with safety critical stuff like brakes and fuel delivery, one system/component at a time.
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber