For $13,900, Open the Door For Your Mystery Eight

There are certain expectations inherent with a W123 Mercedes- it'll be incredibly well built, it'll never go out of style, and, if a diesel, it'll be slow. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe V8 300TDT gets two out of three.

Like Clint Eastwood, the seller of this Benz is a man of few words, however unlike the flinty-eyed actor/director, this guy's few words are mostly contradictory or just plain confusing. In the headline for his ad, he lists this 300TDT as an '82, and yet in the single sentence description, mere pixels away, he says it's an '81. It doesn't really matter much as the differences between those years wasn't dramatic and even if this car once had the optional-starting-in-'82 steering wheel airbag, it's since been replaced with a wood-rim job Moto Lita or something. There wouldn't have been any change to the 3.0-litre five cylinder turbo diesel between those two years, but that's immaterial as it's gone too, replaced with what the seller says is a 383 Dart motor. That would be quite a leap from the 123-bhp turbo smoker to a potentially 330-bhp tire smoker. The 383 V8 was available in the Dart GTS from '67 through '69, providing initially 300 ponies, and then, in its final year, 330. In a case of some is good, more must be better, the Dart 383 required judicious use of the go pedal to keep from turning the rear tires into smoke. Dodge also built a 383-displacement V8 in '59-'60 but those RB engines weren't available in the Dart.

For $13,900, Open the Door For Your Mystery Eight

The thing of it is though, is that I don't think this is a Mopar 383, as I'm pretty sure those big blocks have their distributor driven off the front of the cam and sticking out at a jaunty angle. This engine keeps its rotor spinning away vertically at the back, a trait of the . . . Chevy 350. There is a stroked version of the SBC that through the use of a 350 block and a milled 400 crank displaces 383 CID, and maybe this engine is one of those. If anybody can positively ID this motor as a Mopar product, more power (or Mopar-power) to you, and we'll let it rest. Regardless, it's no longer an oil-burner and the only way you'd get this Benz to run on bio-diesel is to roll it over an acne convention.

For $13,900, Open the Door For Your Mystery Eight

As I said, the seller doesn't give you much to go on other than a dart board's worth of potential years and engine makers to go on here. He does say it's an automatic, but leaves open to conjecture what that slushbox is. It could be the original Mercedes 3-speed, or maybe it's a Torqueflite, or maybe it's a THM-something-something, who knows? The A/C apparently works and, from the pictures at least, the benz looks to be in remarkably nice shape, including the contradictory sporting of both U.S. Bumpers and Euro headlamps. The chrome multi-spoke wheels are jarringly discordant however, and look like they came off a Caddy CTS or something. That's an easy fix, and like milk, a set of proper Benz alloys would do a body good. This body is painted beige, a color that seemingly coated 80% of W123 wagons, and pretty much equates in hue to the majority of asses on the nude beach the first day of summer. The interior is also beige, although a shade more akin to nude beach asses a week or so in. And just like those asses, there's some unwanted wrinkling on this Benz's door panels, although at least this one's seats aren't saggy.

For $13,900, Open the Door For Your Mystery Eight

The W123 wagon is a classic of design, and is one of the last of the truly hand-built Mercedes Benz mid-sizers. Finding one in this good of shape is getting more and more rare, finding one with some sort of big-block push-rodder is like finding a V8-leaf clover.

For $13,900, Open the Door For Your Mystery Eight

But with so much unsaid, it's hard to decide if the seller's $13,900 asking price speaks volumes about the car's value. Sure it looks good, and that V8 probably makes it go like stink, but how much will the mods take away from that legendary Mercedes Benz solidity and solemnity? And what about that price, is $13,900 too much for a V8 W123? Or, does that make this the perfect Mystery Date?

You Decide!


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