1986 Mercedes-Benz 300GD

1986 Mercedes-Benz 300GD


Status: Sold to Walmir in Miami, FL
Manufactured: Germany
Imported: Villanueva del Arzobispo, Spain
Engine: 3.0L 5-Cylinder NA Diesel
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual; Transfer Case; Locking F&R Differentials

Villanueva del Arzobispo is a small town in the Northeast of Jaen; a warm and dry province in Southern Spain known for growing some of the finest olives in the world. This 300GD comes to us from Maria Jose, one of fewer than 9,000 residents in the little town. Having owned the truck since 1997, she passed it off to us, knowing a new adventure awaited back in the U.S.

Virginia doesn’t have a ton of olive groves. If it does, I haven’t found them yet. So, photographing the truck in an element similar to its origin was out of the question. Still, wanting to do something special for the Mercedes, we reached out to Massanutten Ski Resort. The resort is located on Massanutten Mountain, part of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, a little over two hours from Washington D.C. A breathtaking property, Massanutten Resort features 6,000 acres of mountain fun at its very best. Unique in both its size, variety of amenities, and outstanding condo and hotel accommodations, Massanutten has secured its spot as one of the premier all-seasons resort destinations on the East Coast.

Massanutten Resort offers many unique amenities including the Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark, Ski and Adventure Park area, two fantastic golf courses, farm-to-table dining experiences, shopping and recreation options, along with a day spa for complete relaxation and rejuvenation. Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten is easily accessible from many major cities.

Sarah, Kenny, and Cory were kind enough to give us access to the top of the mountain right at the crack of dawn, before the world came alive and took advantage of the crisp January morning. Being on top of the mountain at dawn meant leaving the shop around 4:30 in the morning to make the 1.5-hour trek in the Mercedes. I’ve been to Massanutten before; many times, in fact, but it had been years. The winding road between Marshall and Massanutten was a dark ribbon at dawn; the only familiar constant being the glow of the Mercedes’ headlights. The back roads leading there required working the Mercedes’ gearbox continuously, the diesel being a stout motor but no match for Virginia’s steep rolling hills at the foot of the mountain range.

The road to the top is marked with a gate laden with as many locks as the Pont des Arts. Once through, the slow steady climb up the fire road meant contending with a light blanket of snow and loose, tennis-ball sized stones. Slow and steady, the Mercedes wound its way up in the darkness, until the top of Lift 6 appeared, illuminated by a single brilliant light. I hadn’t been there more than a few minutes before the slope itself lit up the way I’d imagine your front lawn would if the FBI decided to raid your house. The light came from Cory’s PistenBully snow groomer; itself a German transplant, though a much younger version than the Mercedes. Having company in the morning cold was a pleasant surprise, and Cory’s help that morning was also deeply appreciated. One of the fun parts of this job is getting to meet the people behind the business, whatever it might be. It’s funny how much more human things become once you have a few names and faces to put behind something.

All said, it was a worthwhile trek that morning. With about three and a half hours behind the wheel of the Mercedes, it also was a pleasant shake-down cruise of sorts. The drive back was all interstate, where up in 5th gear I took my place in line with the tractor trailers making their procession up the right lane of I-81 as the modern world flew by us in the left lane.

Driveline. This truck retains its original naturally aspirated 3.0L five-cylinder diesel, mated to a five-speed transmission, high/low transfer case with center locking differential, and independent front and rear locking differentials. Drives and shifts without issue. Comfortable highway cursing speeds are about 65mph, with the ability to surge to 70mph. Odometer reads 20,289 KM, assumed to be 120,289 km, or 74,744 miles, based on overall vehicle condition. As a note, since the odometer has rolled over, the title conveys with a caveat of the odometer being in excess of mechanical limits.

Exterior. The Desert Red paint presents well, and is a relatively recent coat of paint. Exterior trim is complete and in excellent condition, to include wheel arches, bumper components, window gaskets, weather stripping, etc. The headlights have flip-up brush guards fitted over them, providing an aggressive look with easy access for repairs. The five BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain TA tires are in excellent condition, as are the wheels.

Interior. Complete and original, the Mercedes plaid interior looks absolutely perfect in this vintage. The seats are unstained and devoid of rips or tears. The Blaupunkt radio is in working order, as are the heat and air conditioning, lights, signals, etc. The steering wheel has two small tears where the driver’s left hand might sit at 11:00. The horn works, and sounds like a small German freight train trying to punch well above its weight, in the best possible way.

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