I came home from the hospital in a 1972 Mercedes 180D back in the days when a mother’s arms, not infant seats built to withstand atomic blasts, were good enough for hospital nurses handing over newborns.

For the next five years or so, that car was chariot and cradle. My grandparents idled it in the driveway until I woke up from the nap I had started during their daily drives. I probably logged at least 25,000 miles strapped into a carseat with Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and other assorted Midwestern states passing along to my left and those fantastic peaked headrests straight ahead. And one of my earliest memories is when two guys showed up in the driveway on a cold fall night and drove away in MY car. I never saw it again or had its magnificent marble factory lull me to sleep.

My parents dabbled in U.S. diesels next, picking up first a white 1978 Oldsmobile 88 that smoked only slightly less than a 1930s Hollywood starlet and balked at turning over on the coldest mornings the Chicago region threw at it. Combine that with my father’s tendency to oversleep and it’s no wonder I completely failed to learn my morning prayers at school. A 1980 Olds Cutlass followed but both cars proved to have the worst Detroit Diesels engines one could buy at the time and they departed with little fanfare after multiple failures tested my parents’ patience and wallets. When my aunt’s diesel VW Rabbit was retired, an era ended in our family. We were officially gassers.

So my point, and I do have one, is that this li’l BMW 524td ECU from the mid-‘80s that we’ve got for sale holds a special place in my heart.

Turns out a lot of folks still love these cars, too. YouTube has a bunch of clips of folks drifting their 524tds through forested twisties. Not a lot came to the United States, but a few of them are still out there burbling away and can be found on Craigslist for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks. I revisited diesels for about a year in the mid-‘00s with a TDi New Beetle — shoulda held out for a Jetta wagon, honestly. But the sound of a diesel idling still brings a smile to my face and a ride in one through, say, a Midwestern state still makes me a li’l sleepy.

Got your own memories of dabbling with diesel? Drop us a line and we’ll post ’em up!

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