Mercedes Benz 300D turbo diesel (1980s) or Datsun 280z/240z (1970s)?

These are two cars that I am interested, but which is better?
I can’t decide. Two very different cars I know, I just think the discussion will be interesting.

I don’t think there is a better and you’re actually talking about maybe half a dozen different cars. The Datsun line of Z cars have the same basic shape but the 240 is not nearly the same car that the 280 ZX is for example.

They’re all old cars at this point and repairs could get pricy on any of them.

Suggest more affordable and more user-friendly interests! Both these cars will cost an arm and a leg to make and keep roadworthy, and the Datsun is a real rust bucket.

Depends on what you really plan to use the car for, a diesel Mercedes can be a reliable cruiser/daily driver if maintained correctly. The Z cars aren’t as practical but the best one you can find for your budget would be more fun to drive. The 240Z had a surge of interest when Nissan introduced the 350Z a few years ago so there are quite a few restored one’s out there and some nice drivers show up at auction occasionally.


As a pro and a former Benz mechanic, I can tell you those old Benz diesels will probably outlive all of us, with proper maintenance. They will leak like a sieve, but they’ll keep going.

Slow and ugly, but built like a tank . . . in a good way. Getting parts is not a big problem. They’re not even particularly difficult to work on.

Proper valve lash adjustment is quite important. Many vehicles are low on power or hard to start, simply because the valves are out of adjustment.

If you get one, I advise you to convert it to R-134a, if it hasn’t already been done. That will make future AC services easier.

Since those cars are old, you’ll likely need a paint job (or at least a professional detailing) and some upholstery work by now.

The other guys will have to add their opinion of the Datsun

Why get a 300D? Slow, major polluter (smoke screen when you hit the gas), nothing I would call ‘fun’. You can get better everything with a more modern car.


Those cars actually have a somewhat strong following

Those people that love them are clearly not that interested in a modern car

I agree that they’re not for everybody

Yeah I know they’re popular and they’re very well made. But I question the logic that many people seem to follow - they’re not really helping the environment with these smokers, and they could get better mpgs in a safer modern car.

Anybody buying a vehicle that old isn’t doing it for logical reasons

With any of them, it would be best if the buyer is a mechanically inclined DIYer. Otherwise, keeping them going could get expensive if a shop is involved.

I’ve serviced a lot of the Z series cars (mostly 280s) and they’re not immune to scarce and high priced parts.
While working for Nissan, now and then an old relic 240 or 260 would appear at the door and if it were engine performance related the service manager wouldn’t even let it in the shop.

I think @Awwstindo is a put on. He started with a question about an old Porsche 928 as a reliable car for a teenager? Then a Triumph Stag, another oldie but a repair nightmare. Now we have have an old Benz and a Z car?

I sense a teen car lover pulling our collective legs. Nothing wrong with being a teen car lover, was one myself - but just come clean about it. If you want opinions of dream cars then just ask.

The Benz is a solid, slow, smokey, beast. Fine for highway cruise, but not much fun in the twisties. The Z cars were fun, reliable, good power, good handling, etc. In their day the Z cars were very strong and popular performers. An old Z car would be fine, but would need some expensive repairs due to age. Compared to the Porsche 928 the Z car would be a much better choice as a frequent or even daily driver.

If reliable is really a factor, get a Mazda Miata, or Honda 2000. Both great sports cars, good looks, fun, and very reliable. Old cars from the 70’s and 80’s just can’t be considered reliable anymore due to age and increasing ethanol content of the fuel we buy. All cars from the 70’s and 80’s will require and ethanol fuel treatment on every fill up. If you own one of these oldies and don’t use an ethanol treatment your rubber fuel lines will turn to gum and leak, and the carburator will be a mess internally so the car won’t run for beans.

It’s my understanding that Datsun bought the tooling for the 240Z engine from Mercedes.

@circuitsmith - I didn’t know that, interesting. Looks like the roots go back to the 60s MB designs:

#db4690 I don’t think @Awwstindo is interested in buying anything. So far he’s confronted us with an old Porsche, a Triumph Stag and these expensive oldies. He’s getting a very cheap education in old cars which he can impress others with. Or he could be a rich kid who’s dad will let him blow money on old “exotic” cars as an education.

I have no problem with this; I had a wild imagination about cars as a teenager. Mostly because I never had to depend on a car or pay the repair bills.

I agree with @Docnick. As long as @Awwstindo stays away from Renault and Yugo questions then I have no problem with his comments at all.

Uncle T, you may be right. But it’s okay. This is, after all, a discussion forum. And I enjoy the discussions. At least until I can find a rich widow.


Try pricing insurance for a Miata or s2k for a teen driver and see if you change your opinion on those suggestions. I remember a thread awhile back someone was considering buying a brand new one of those for his daughter at 16. I believe the quick quote I got online was $1000 for 6 months, and that was with a discount for paying 6 months at a time, high deductible AND low liability payouts.

I’ll repeat the true story here of a young soldier at one of the army camps who WON a Lamborghini in a draw, don’t know what model. The car was over $250,000 list, but the insurance for a single male under 25 came to $12,500 per year. A little rich for a soldier. The kid drove the car around the block and put it up for sale and with the proceeds bought a Japanese sports car ( Honda or Mazda) and invested the rest.

That era Toyota was extremely prone to rust. You won’t find one that’s lived it’s whole life in the North East because it rusted away long ago. I’d have that vehicle thoroughly inspected by a good body man before I bought that vehicle.

A neighbor had a series of MB diesel sedans. His last one was a 300D. He looked far and wide for it. But after owning it for about a year, he became disillusioned because it needed so many repairs. He drives a Hyundai SUV now.