Hot Wheels has selected a lifted 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300D as a finalist in the 2023 Legends Tour. Extensively modified, the turbodiesel-powered sedan is on the list of custom-built cars that will compete for a chance to join the Hot Wheels catalog of scale models later in 2023.
David Almanzan, an automotive technology teacher at Dekaney High School in Houston, Texas, spent several years building the off-roader with his students. The project started when he spotted the 300D sitting on a neighbor’s lawn; it hadn’t been started for about eight years, though luckily the 3.0-liter turbodiesel five-cylinder engine (called OM617 internally) that powers it is known for its exceptional robustness.
Almanzan bought the 300D and brought it to the school’s shop to give his students hands-on experience about repairing, maintaining, and modifying cars. All told, approximately 260 students contributed to the project. Beyond the lift kit, which gives the 300D the kind of ground clearance even a stock G-Class can only dream of, the list of modifications includes mud-terrain tires, LED light bars, and wheel arch flares.
There’s a lot that’s not stock inside as well, such as a racing seat for the driver and a wide rear-view mirror, though Almanzan kept the factory Becker Grand Prix cassette player. Pop the hood and you’ll find additional modifications, including support bars for the engine, an oil catch can, and an exhaust system routed through the hood, semi truck-style. There’s no word on what effect the modifications have on performance. Stock, a 1985 300D (that’s the final model year for these, bytheway) is rated at 123 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
Almanzan’s 300D — which is nicknamed Tootsie — will move on to one of the two semifinal rounds taking place in November 2023. To win, it will need to fend off competition from other heavily-modified one-offs, including a 1981 Chevrolet Camaro and a 1989 Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet. The winner will secure a spot in the Hot Wheels catalog of 1/64-scale cars, and it will be sold through retailers around the world.