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I'm wondering if you all may be able to point me in a good direction as I ponder a mad scheme.

In the hopes of continuing to weather the economic storm I've fashioned an idea.

I want to let my current model Lexus go. Its a great car but very expensive. However I still want to maintain a certain sense of style and am unwilling concede defeat and simply buy a Ford Focus. Also I want a car that has great mileage and will last forever. Given these requirements, the only possible solution is a Mercedes Turbo Diesel.

These cars are pretty few and far between here in the States. As I was reading my copies of Octane and Classic & Sports Car I suddenly thought "how cool would a right hand drive Merc be!"

I've spoken with an experienced importer from the US who tells me that cars that are 25 years or older would be exempt from DOT and EPA restrictions.

So here it is, I now need to identify which model Mercedes Diesel to select (here in the States it would be a 83-85 300SD) , then suss a way to hunt down and purchase such a beast.

So do you have any suggestions to further me on my quest?
T McCarthy

Please check your State regulations. While you are correct that one can import older cars that do not meet USA stds, there are some gotcha's:

From the Federal EPA website: "Vehicles at least 21 years old with replacement engines are not eligible for thisexemption"

Also from the Federal EPA: "The age of the vehicle is determined by subtracting the calendar year of manufacture from the calendar year of importation. If the calendar year of manufacture is unavailable, the importer may substitute the model year or year of first registration."

The NHTSA basically requires cars less than 25 years to meet all US safety requirements. There are some allowed exceptions to this rule also. Older cars do not have to meet safety requirements upon import.

HOWEVER, your state MAY require emmission testing. i had a friend who had a car that was imported under the above stds, only to find that the Illinois emmission testing program was not so lenient. He had to test the vehicle every year or two. This may not be true today but was a few years ago. Your state may have a similar requirement. Best to check with them.

Chuck Schaefer

"a mad scheme "- indeed!
"Its a great car but very expensive.
Also I want a car that has great mileage and will last forever. "

"Given these requirements, the only possible solution is a Mercedes Turbo Diesel."

You really think you are going to save anything by this, even after (or if) you jump through all the hoops, which won't be free either? Priced any Merc bits, or labor if you don't do it all yrself?

90-94 Mazda Protege meets all requirements, especially if you track down a no rust one. A few well known upgrades and you are gone. And, you could buy 10 of them at least for the price of your proposal. There was just one on Ebay that got no bids at $1950, with 51000 on it. As far as I can tell, they can't be killed, and parts are near free anyway. I'm up to 5 assorted now.

For more fun - read Cooper S fun - 323 hatchback, same mechanicals. My raggedy 1600cc/134,000 mile 323 will run circles around a really nice MGB any day, and gets 32-34 mpg at 80 fully can't-see-out-the-windows loaded, or 40+ if you keep your foot off the floor. These things are what MG would have been if the Brits knew how to run a car company, with the 323 equivalent to the Mini/1100/1300, and the Protege to the Magnette. Only trouble is too much plastic inside.

I have no experience, but given Mazda characteristics, I expect the 929 would be similar but more in the luxo style. Or you take a fraction of the shekels saved and send the 323/Protege to Mexico and have a leather interior put in it!

PS: I recently read that Mazda has decided that while everyone else screws with hybrid, electric, etc., they are going with high efficiency turbo diesel - first one is due out in the fall - something like 180 hp/2liter, in the CX9. They say it uses the fuel of a 850cc gas engine and qualifies as clean, clean, clean!


FR Millmore

Volvo 940 ?
Art Pearse

Hands down any Audi TDI you can sneak in the country (they will start importing them in 2010 , or if you what to save some $ and don't need Quatro 4 wheel drive (cant live without that here in VT) Get any of the VW TDI's . The first car I bought my wife was a VW Passat TDI . you could not tell it was a diesel (it was very fast , quite and smoke free) it got 48 mpg highway or city and that was back in 1997, today TDI are twice as powerful , twice as fast, and more fuel efficient. We have a 2007 Q7 now and I'm dieing for the 2010 Q7 TDI to get to this side of the pond !
Chris Velardi

If you really want to import a car from the UK/Europe have a look at

It will give some idea what is available and an idea of prices but these should usually only be taken as a guide for negotiations. Because your idea is somewhat unusual, expect a great deal of suspicion as you will be suspected of trying to work a scam. Gordon will advise on this - remember the "Italian" customer.

I would caution something else. Driving a car with the steering wheel on the "wrong" side is not necessarily fun, especially with no front passenger to advise when it is clear to pull out to overtake. In the UK it also can put a big hit on your insurance premium.

Malcolm Asquith

Hi Tysen,

I would agree with Malcolm, and also caution against 25 year old cars from our damp climate, unless you can get a very careful examination!

For sourcing an old Mercedes I would think that Germany should be a pretty good bet and the steering wheel is in a better position for overtaking and insurance premiums!

BTW I have a needle assy sitting in my cupboard that I keep intending to post! I will get round to it shortly!
Neil McGurk

I have seen the old 300D model in the states in a few occasions. Put your money that would be used for importing, registration, travel etc aside and just pay top dollar for a US model!
Art Pearse

....on the other hand, if you're going to dream, how about:
N Kopernik

LHD Mercs in good condition are cheap here, and usually in excellent condition. The safety test is quite strict here, and requires that cars are pressure cleaned before the test, and leaking fluids is also not allowed. Bumps and dents are also fail points if more than very minor.

Old Mercs are VERY sought after by the export trade.

dominic clancy

This thread was discussed between 25/06/2009 and 26/06/2009

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