“I pass this car on to you. You take care of it now, and you can do what you like with it. Your grandmother would have been proud.” My grandfather said this to me on my 17th birthday as he signed his car over to me. He bought a Mercedes 240D right off the showroom floor in 1983. The car was taken care of immaculately and still is beautiful to this day under my name. I didn’t realized what I truly was the owner of until it was mine. Sure it may be slow and not able to race the kids down the block, but the 240D is the perfect cruiser. For its time (and even today) the car is incredible. Mercedes came out with the 240D (W123 chassis) in 1976. It was a sedan, slow, and diesel powered. There was also the 300D option which was the same motor but included a turbo. Each 240D model produced around 65 horsepower, 150 pounds of torque, and got around 24 to 27 miles per gallon (based on the driver). These where originally priced at around 19,000 dollars. At the time, this was a lot of money for a slow German car.
The 240D included all independent suspension, which was very uncommon in that day. Each wheel reacts to the road accordingly as opposed to a live axel where the wheels are linked. It includes a MCPherson Strut which includes strut-type spring and shock absorber that work as a team that will pivot on a ball joint on the single lower arm. This results in a smoother ride as well as better handling. It is a more expensive option for a car, but the trade-off is well worth it. The suspension supports an over 3,000 pound car. To have a good suspension system and not have the body roll of a boat is an impressive feat.
The interior of the 240D is not your typical American interior from the 1980s. The seats are hand stitched with real leather, the wooden trim and center console are real wood, and the dash is made of a hard plastic. This was designed to last a long time, and it really shows. My interior has one rip, and that is on a door seam. The seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room that can also be heated. There is an electric sunroof that opens with the push of a button. The car also has cruise control that works well and doesn’t go out (most at the time malfunctioned quickly). The one problem would be the fact that there are no cup holders (and manual windows for the few who hate rolling them down by force). This provides for some inconveniences, but it is very minor compared to other problems that could be there.
The 240D is considered one of Mercedes-Benz’s most reliable models due to its low-tech, easy-maintenance design. It was, at the time, the fastest diesel engine available, though its 4-cylinder, 2.4 liter engine only produced 65 horsepower. The top speed hardly passes 100 mph, but the car truly shines at a steady speed of around 70 mph. The 240D has been known to last over 200,000 to 400,000 miles with very little work. The longest recorded 240D that still runs has over 4 million miles on it by a man in Georgia. There is no fear for breaking down during a road trip or getting a speeding ticket.
With gas prices today, getting around 26 miles to the gallon is nice. Depending where you live, diesel prices will be more or less expensive. I learned that if you drive on the highway at about 65-70 mph, and roam around the city at about 45 mph, the average gas mileage was 29 mpg. Be aware that it may take some time to get up to speed. Staying at a steady speed feels almost like you are floating above the ground.
The comfortable seats, independent suspension, and power steering make the car such a joy to drive. While you may not be speeding down the highway, riding in the Mercedes 240D is well worth it. If I were to rate it, I would have to give it a solid 8.5-9 out of 10. Now days they are found everywhere and one could pick them up for very cheap. For more reviews and information about the car, check out the links below. This car will outlast most others, so I ask you this. Will you spend about 2,000-3,000 dollars for a Mercedes 240D?