If you look at a newspaper, craigslist.com, or eBay, chances are you'll be able to find a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz (MBZ) car that gets at least 25 mpg for less than $2,000-and that's just the asking price. That's not a big buy-in amount for a commuter that sips fuel, and we don't know if you've heard, but MBZ makes some darn good cars. Here are the models you're most likely to find for less than $2,000.
In 1959, Mercedes-Benz racing manager Karl Kling won the 8,728-mile Africa Rally in a 190D
Back in 1936, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first diesel-powered passenger car. It was a 2.6L four-cylinder engine that used a Bosch injection pump, made 45 hp at 3,200 rpm, and achieved 24.7 mpg. The 260D quickly became a favorite of taxi companies in Germany because diesel not only cost less than gasoline but, with a passenger transfer license, it also cost 25 percent less per liter. It was no surprise when the diesel car became a hit. The 260D led to the introduction of the 1.8L 170D in 1949.
Then, in 1954, a 1.9L, 50hp version of the diesel was put into the new Ponton unibody chassis (also called the W 121) and became the 190D. That year, journalist Bill Carroll drove this diesel car across the USA to create awareness of the new import. A Fintail (W 110) 2.0L was also sold beginning in 1961. You're less likely to find any of these models because of their age and the lower production numbers, but if you're looking for a simple car with old-fashioned styling, a 190D may be right for you.
The 45hp OM601 four-cylinder, indirect-injection diesel engine (below) features a single o
In 1973, the W 115-series 240D was added to the Mercedes-Benz lineup, and by 1974, it came with a 3.0L, five-cylinder engine with an improved injection system. This engine produced 80 hp at 2,400 rpm, giving the car a respectable 92-mph top speed and knocking about 10 seconds off the 0-60 time (to 19.9 seconds). The 240D became one of the best-selling diesel cars of all time, with 945,206 of the W 115 cars being sold. This model with vertical headlamps also became a favorite in the U.S., so there are a lot more of them on the market than the 190D.
In 1976, due to high demand, Mercedes-Benz sold the W 115 diesel cars alongside the new W 123 models (with horizontal headlamps). It's confusing, but with the new W 123 body, a 240D comes with four cylinders and the 300D is the five-cylinder model-so count the injector lines when you go for a testdrive. The new diesels received an upgraded engine that featured a stronger Ferrolastik head gasket, an improved exhaust system, and new oil- and fuel-filter designs.
Thanks to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations in the U.S. and Canada, Mercedes-Benz decided to sell the 300CD coupe starting in 1977. By offering an additional body style (which was lighter and got better mileage), the company was able to raise its overall consumption statistics. A W 123 station wagon was also sold during this time, and now these spacious diesels are often being sold at a premium price.