1991 W124 300D Turbo Diesel - Modernising for family used over the next 10 years.

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Active Member
Apr 14, 2012
Japan, near Tokyo
W124 300D Turbo, E30 M3, R5 Turbo II, RX-7, AE86, CRX Glasstop, DC2 Type R, VTR SP2...

Thought I’d post some pics & share the story of our 300D and it's progress here in Japan. It's a completely rust free 165,000km (103,000 mile) example I bought for a measley sum, but then spent more on it for parts, taxes, registration, etc. than the base cost.
It replaces my wife's Lexus IS300 sports wagon, which although a great car had a bit of a drinking problem during school runs for the kids. Plus I've always had a soft spot for Turbo Diesel W124's since owning a W123 300D as a student in the UK a couple of decades ago.

I have been lurking on this and other forums to gain the information I needed to make better choices for components, so thanks to all who have contributed but shall remain nameless. Your help has been much appreciated! :rock:


It looks so much better after spending an afternoon lowering with Bilstein sports suspension and H&R springs + new 17'' Rinspeed rims & decent sports tyres.
A friend & I did that work together on Sunday afternoon.
Half way through he got stung by a large hornet, so I had to suck his sweaty back and get the poison out – ended up giving him a juicy love bite instead (That’s what friend’s are for :D!) then doused with vinegar so there was next to no effect. We both still got bitten by mosquitoes as the sun went down, so went for a nice Indian meal afterwards in a lame effort to become less tasty to them in future.


Did a 5 layer machine polishing process on it yesterday with my favourite Zaino polishes. Came out sweet. Still has some micro scratches, but it’ll get better as I continue polishing it over time. Looks so much better as I hadn’t washed it since it arrived a few month ago!
I’ll still need to sort out some cracks and scratches on the bumpers and a few small bodywork imperfections, but my wife will be the main driver so I don't expect to have pristine bumpers... :eek:
Am still thinking of returning the mouldings on the bumpers back to black (With some used ones if I can find them), as they’ll withstand minor bumps much better and that’s how the original colour scheme would have been.
I also fitted a better leather steering wheel and shift knob yesterday along with the Avant Garde grille and the all important “Turbo” original badge.
Steering wheel is a bit smaller diameter but perfectly sized. Both were also bought used, so were inexpensive.


I’d hoped to put in the high end Clarion VZ-300 iphone compatible CD head unit I bought, but the Ebay seller in the States forgot to (or didn’t!) send me the main harness with this factory reconditioned unit. Unfortunately I bought it in April and never checked it was complete, so too late to claim. I e-mailed (politely) and got a one line reply saying I didn’t buy from him, even though the confirmation was from the same e-mail I'd contacted further below… another joker of this world whose integrity is next to worthless!

Anyways, I found another harness on Ebay which looks & is described to be the right one and it cost 25 quid, so I laid down a bit more faith in human nature and the other guy can continue to suffer what happens with his own karma.

Have also picked up a complete 500E Limited interior inclusive of door trims whose front seats I’ll re-colour and restore before fitting. As it will change to have 2 memory front seats with heating, I'll have to get new wiring harnesses and relays for the seats, but I have the right support to do this.
New seats will be fitted together with a complete set of rubber cupped floor mats coming from a taxi goods supplier in Germany which will keep interior and boot tidy & easy to clean from daily workhorse use. We live in a country farmhouse, so our little children tend to put mud everywhere in wet weather!

I’ve also got some proper Jelhert door & front speakers from the lovely Angelica Jelhert, Rainbow rear speakers, 1,000W of proper amplifiers, quality sound deadening imported from the States, etc. some of which is arrived & will be delivered to me shortly.
I’ll do a proper install sometime at the end of September in combination with fitting an HDD navigation system. A day’s work + a bit of time to make a bespoke (Oak) subwoofer enclosure between the two back seats. It’s about sound quality for me, not loudness though. Don’t really want to deafen the children, just encourage them to like the sound of quality music!

Bought an old R12 aircon gas recharger too.
The Aircon works OK, but looks like it could use some more gas. Once that’s done it should provide ice cool air to the interior to go with the ICE system.

Since changing all the glow plugs for new Beru items, it starts on the first attempt and drives well. Changing them was a doddle. 5 of 6 were shot!
It gives decent fuel economy and is a pleasure to drive. A totally solid feeling car.

Rides well on the new suspension and wheels too – a tiny bit firmer, but still comfortable. Still rolls a bit of course, but the thicker 320 Cabrio & 500E ARB’s coming from Europe will sort that out and there’s a set of early model 500E brakes to go onto it too, with new discs, etc. so it can stand being driven fast if need be or braked hard when I want to hussle it, without making the brakes grumble or warp.

A few creaks and noises sometimes, but nothing I can’t sort out. Steering doesn’t self correct very well. Not sure if this is a part of the design (No bad tyre wear so it’s not geometry I think) or if it’s a slightly seized joint somewhere. I’ll have to check it out, but it’s probably the latter. Just one of those things to put right on an older car I guess.

I have a friend in Germany who is well connected for Benz parts, along with a technician friend of his who is W124 mad, so I can get around the extortionate costs of parts from MB Japan & technical knowledge is easier for some things too. Delay in getting bits is the only thing to plan ahead for.

Anyways, being Diesel I think this car will serve us well for a decade and any mileage we care to throw at it as a family. It’s old enough to present itself as a smart and classic Benz, without looking like a rubbish old car that is undesirable and over time it’ll become more and more classic too which being entirely usable. It was the right choice to sell the much newer Lexus and get this Benz, I’m sure. With all the upgrades, costs will be a little more in the end, but it delivers twice the fuel economy and as all deliveries are by road here, to keep industry moving Diesel’s always going to be cheaper than petrol in Japan.


I'll post more when I've completed some additional work. TBH I'm not one for detailing projects step by step - when I'm doing work I just want to get on with it and do as much as possible... but it should make a cool old benz.
I'm definitely a W124 fan.
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Quality work,like it:thumb:
I would keep the bumpers as they are, they suit the white paint.

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