While the vehicle itself isn't amazingly spectacular (I'll get to that soon), the story behind this house is worthy of a book. Because it was owned by a guy named Mike who moved to Japan in the 1970s, learned martial arts from a famous karate master, and then returned to the U.S. to establish his own karate school. Yup, you'd better forget about "The Karate Kid" film, this is the real stuff.
On top of that, the story goes that once his reputation as a skilled karate teacher began to spread, he was approached by the government to become one of the President's bodyguards. Around the same time he bought this rather secluded home to live with his wife and kids.
But the owner suffered from numerous illnesses as he grew older and following his wife's death in the 2010s, he moved to a retirement home. Mike passed away in 2019 and despite having offspring, his house was abandoned. But even though it has inevitably fallen into a state of disrepair, it's still in decent condition and it looks like it's been left behind in a hurry.
Some cupboards still have groceries in them, there are photos of Mike's family all over the place, and the cabinets are still loaded with clothes. Steve also found an organ, that still works after so many years. But more importantly, an old Mercedes-Benz is still resting in the garage.
A W123 midsize of the wagon variety, it's not a super rare gem or an extremely valuable classic, but it's in surprisingly good condition for a vehicle that's been sitting for a few years. Not only that, but the W123 was discontinued in 1986, so whatever the model year, this Merc is at least 37 years old as of 2023.
The bodywork appears to be rust-free at first glance and the wagon still sports its original U.S.-spec tires and even white-stripe tires. The cabin doesn't look bad either with all trim still in place and the upholstery in amazing condition. And its original engine is still under the hood. The wagon has a "department of defense" sticker on the bumper that shows it was last registered in 1997.
The "300D" badge on the tailgate suggests this wagon is the entry-level turbodiesel that was sold in the United States from 1982 to 1985. Powered by a 3.0-liter inline-five oil burner, it came with 119 horsepower and 170 pound-feet (230 Nm) of torque. It was sold alongside the 300CD, which had a slightly more potent mill.
While the latter is somewhat rare at little over 8,000 units, the 300D was a bit more popular at the time, moving about 75,000 units on American soil. Yes, it's not exactly rare but it's a desirable station wagon nowadays. Especially in this condition and given that W123s are famous for being able to run for more than a million miles with little maintenance.
All told, this Merc is definitely worth saving. Putting it back on the road wouldn't be difficult at all and it will clean up nicely inside and out. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this T-Model won't be coming out of that garage anytime soon. Check it out in the video below. It pops up at the 13-minute mark.