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Bennie the BioBenz is a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300D Turbodiesel. He's blue with tan interior. We purchased him from a private owner in Memphis for $3,000 with 218,111 miles on the odometer. It's not unusual for a diesel Mercedes engine to go 500,000 miles or more with proper care and maintanence.
Although Bennie was in generally good shape, he was in need of a makeover. We didn't want to just slap some paint on the car at a drive-thru paint shop. We wanted the very best since Bennie would be traveling all over the country for people to see him up close. We chose a paint and body shop that is second to none in the Nashville area. A shop Phil has done business with for over 20 years - Vogely & Todd. Bennie spent several weeks undergoing a complete face-lift at Vogely & Todd. Bennie now has a showroom shine like the day he rolled off the assembly line. (See the before and after pictures by clicking below)
When Bennie was purchased, the turbodiesel engine was in good shape. The only major body damage was a front passenger side crumpled fender. We paid $100 to have one in mint condition removed from a Mercedes that had been rear-ended. The hood was in perfect condition when we bought it but had to be replaced because it was damaged in transport from Memphis to Nashville. The front grill needed replacing as some of the vents were chipped which made Bennie look like he was missing teeth. We found a used grill that was in near perfect shape at a salvage yard for $16. We added a new center medallion with the blue background that we found on the Internet for another 10 bucks. The tires had plenty of tread but the wheel covers needed attention. They were repainted during the paint and body work.
The interior was in relatively good shape for a car of its age. No major holes or tears, just some fading. People refer to this interior as leather but it's actually something Mercedes calls MB Tex. MB Tex stands for Mercedes-Benz Textured Punctured Vinyl. This material has the look and feel of leather but is much more durable and was widely used in Mercedes automobiles for decades. In fact, it's quite rare to find a Mercedes of this vintage with real leather interior. When you see a Mercedes this old advertised with leather interior, almost always it's going to be MB Tex. Mercedes offered these interiors in several different colors. The tan interior of our Benz is called Palomino.
Many Mercedes-Benz automobiles of that era had a first-aid kit in the hat tray (the area behind the back seats and below the back window). Ours had the original kit but the lid was missing. We were lucky enough to find an entire kit box with the lid still intact at a salvage yard for $5. As is common with this car, the sun visor clips that hold the visor in place were broken off. We found a pair in our color at the salvage yard and they threw those in for nothing. Some of the protective coating on the wood in the console and dash was cracking and we're in the process of restoring that. It's almost impossible to find a dashboard in a Mercedes this age that doesn't have some cracking. We're in the process of repairing that, as well. The carpeting in the automobile is a bit faded in places and will be replaced where needed. We're also installing new Mercedes floor mats.
The result will be a gorgeous restoration of a classic Mercedes-Benz sedan that has a new lease on life thanks to a little TLC and biodiesel in his tank.
Click here to see before and after pictures
Track Bennie's restoration here
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