'86 300SDL

Our 300 SDL, 1986

My to-be wife went with me to get it. I also called it my "Cargo Cult" car: If I get a family sedan, a family will come! The "Pimpmobile" nickname was given to us by someone who said one of these cars was driven by Jamie Farr in "The Cannonball Run", and had that nickname. So we watched this movie and no such thing. Farr is driving around in a white Rolls, and that nickname was never used. Maybe in the sequel...

A belated log of its life with us.

A (partial) list of its repairs and upgrades:

The car needed more work than I thought (big surprise). I seriously overpaid, as it turned out. This car had been wrecked and repaired, properly I thought. I was wrong. This car ate tires like they were free. The rear-end alignment (camber) was seriously wrong on one side, the problem was visible if you looked for it. (Oh, and the wheel bearing was shot on the other side.) Once I had the car home I noticed that the wheel in the spare well was broken! This wasn't noticable unless you actually took it out. The dealership estimate was over $5k to fix it correctly, which involved a new trailing arm, frame stretching, etc. I cheaped out and bought a boneyard subframe assembly for $350, and paid something like $200 to a guy to install it. Alignment (and bearings) were fine after this.

And that's just one example of shoddy PO work.

The trunk leaked water like a sieve. Nearly everything that could leak did. I think we were spared rust holes in sheet metal, but the rest we had.

The central locking was out, for example. How it got so screwed up is a mystery. The fuse was always out, this turned out to be the trunk lamp miswired so that it blew the fuse every time you opened the trunk. (Signs of incompetent body work.) The hose to the trunk actuator was actually tucked into the sunroof drain hose on the right side. Said hose curling upwards instead of going down through a (no longer there) hole to the ground. (Signs of really incompetent body work. The water that was in the lock system took awhile to get out of there, I had freeze-up problems the next winter, even though I had blown out the system with compressed air.) And the vacuum locking pump itself had a broken coupling between the motor and the pump. I fixed this, as a new pump is expensive.

The reading lamps for the rear seats were from an earlier SD. They didn't fit the holes, and were in fact glued in place. How does this crap happen?

On the plus side, the interior of the car was immaculate. It's what made the sale, really. The car looked good, drove well, and was strong. Drivetrain worked well. All windows and seats worked, as did the sunroof, cruise control, and the ACC system. (Though it "needed a charge." [The expansion valve leaked.])

We really like the car, always have. But it sure was a lot of trouble to put right.

I think it had been well kept up until its first rear-ending, and thereafter it had been let go. (For example, we have records showing that it got a new head and radiator, due to a lost belt incident. This car has cost its owners a fair amount of money over the years, us included! But I hope that this phase is over now.)

It was a sad day when it got rear-ended again, this time on our watch. No injuries, and in fact my wife wasn't even sure that she had been hit. But the damage was extensive, in part probably due to the shoddy repairs from last time. The car was on the cusp of being totaled, and I was even shopping for another one, but its interior condition swayed the insurance adjustor towards having it repaired.

Of course, the body shop screwed up the trunk wiring again. (Can none of them do wiring? I've never had a good experience.) This time they kinked the cable so that the trunk light was intermittent, and they didn't hook up the license plate lights at all. (I'm not sure why the lamp-out module didn't catch this, and it is working.)

It was another sad day when it got T-boned by a deer. This car is a magnet for trouble, it seems. But it gets a lot of miles put on it too. The paintless dent place had a good quote ($150) for removing the three dents the deer put in the front fender and the two doors. And their price ($350) for fixing the big rear dent was much less than anybody else, so we went with them. The repairs look good, plenty good enough for this car. Later I fixed the tail light and the mirror. (Used for the light, new for the mirror glass. Unfortunately the used light is faded when compared to the nearly-new light it replaced.)


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