CC Capsule: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbodiesel – A Curbside Classic for the Thrifty


How do you characterize an engine well-known to propel the automobiles into which it is fitted for hundreds of thousands of trouble-free miles? “Reliable” wouldn’t even remotely do it justice. “Bulletproof” is better, but still falls short. The Mercedes-Benz OM617 five-cylinder diesel is just such an engine, one for which, quite frankly, superlatives fail me. An OM617 lurks beneath the hood of this W116 sedan.


And look; it’s the turbodiesel version! The 300 SD Turbodiesel,  which was made exclusively for North America, was available only for 1978, 1979, and 1980.


I was amused to find this one parked outside my nearby Goodwill store. This owner took his W116 thrifting! Could the long-lasting OM617 be the ultimate engine for the penny-pincher?

I gather that this engine was pretty quick, especially among diesels, especially in its day. This W116 300 SD owner puts his car through its paces for all to see. Skip to 1:12 to see the engine in action.


This 300 SD looks to have been well used, with some paint challenges and a well-worn interior–but long may it keep on thrifting!