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Mercedes 300td vs. volkswagon tdi

well the matrix has taken one last dump on us and we are looking to buy a diesel. We travel a lot and want the good gas mileage and reliability of a diesel.
pros and cons so far…

looking at a 1981 300td wagon great condition 157,000 $5000
easy to work on, I used to own 240D
high clearance (we do a lot of dirt road driving)
manual transmission, rare so not sure if easy to get parts for

or 2009 tdi wagon 130,000 $9000
harder to work on
seems like they are high maintenance??


If you want my honest opinion, if you want a reliable car to travel in, you’ve chosen a horrible one and a not-particularly-good one. You should do more research here.

Pass up on both of them; there are more reliable and easier & cheaper to maintain vehicles available. As suggested, do more research.

I’d go with the MB as it is rear wheel drive. The VW is wrong wheel drive. MB has parts for cars back to the 1950’s. My Denver dealer got door seals for my 1972 280 SEL within a week.

I can’t recommend a 35 year old car as anything other than a hobby car. The myth around these MBs is much more than the reality.

Of the 2 choices-None of the above.

Having driven a diesel for 480,000 miles, there is no way I would encourage anyone to buy a diesel. They are higher maintenance, more costly to repair, and the general public does not understand them. Forget the mileage and the extra couple hundred dollars a year in fuel costs as being of primary consideration.

If you put a gun to my head and I had to choose between the two, I will go to the closest rental place and rent the cheapest car on their lot.

I am not sure what is wrong with your Matrix, but I think these two cars would make the Matrix feel like a brand new car.

The VW, hands down. Parts are cheaper. VW has had a serious knock to their diesel cars so the prices are cheaper than the Benz. The VW diesel is good for about 250,000 miles before the engine will wipe its cams out.

I wouldn’t do either. Get a gas vehicle with a small motor.

No 1981 vehicle will not be reliable. The Benz will also be as expensive to repair as a new MB. Just because it is old doesn’t mean that parts and labor are any less costly than a similar new model. If you must choose between the two, go with the VW. As @Mustangman said, VW diesels are out of favor and there should be some excellent deals on them.

As far as the Benz . . . anybody considering a 1981 car as a daily driver isn’t doing themselves any favors. No airbags, no abs, terrible handling, etc. And they’re not even particularly comfortable. The sound system sucks, the ac might still be R-12, if it hasn’t been converterted. Even if it has been converted, I would expect quite a few issues and/or leaks in regards to the ac

The VW has many more safety features, but it’s a VW, so reliablity is a big question mark

People sure are nostalgic about old cars and the good old days, aren’t they?

@db4690 You should know better than me but I don’t remember the wagon having any more ground clearance than the sedan. The OP thinks it does.

Between the two, the newer VW would be my choice. If you live in the USA, be aware there may be a requirement to bring the car to VW to revamp the emissions function, which could lower mpg and/or have an adverse effect on drivability. I’d need a pretty big discount to risk having to deal w/that.

Neither of these cars fall into the reliable category. Pass on both and keep looking.

The OP is comparing a 35 year old MB that gets 25-30mpg (when new)
with a 6-7 year old VW that gets 40-45 mpg.

While on used cars maintenance, mileage, and reliability ratings are normally the only things that matter, this is a totally unfair comparison. For a daily driver, the VW is ahead by ten lengths.

@“VOLVO V70”

I don’t seem to remember the wagons having more ground clearance, but that’s really besides the point