Champaign And Diesel Soot: The Gambler 500 Mercedes 300SD Is Back!

We are always on the hunt for cool and interesting content. Customized vehicles are always ideal for this and when we find super unique rides, it is a sure thing. Method Race Wheels does a great job dropping fresh features which is where we found this latest subject. They have a bunch of inspiring content and features so make sure to click over and give it a look.

When it comes to piloting a crap car like a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300SD around (and often over) an array of challenging stages in a sanctioned event, you basically have two options. Either you sign up for the anarchy that is 24 Hours of LeMons and give it your all on track, or you opt to take things off-road, and you enter your hooptie in the Gambler 500.

Take Bryce Ronsonet’s 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300DSD for example. Fondly referred to as “Champaign” by those that know it, this Mad Max-inspired German tank of a sedan has been rebuilt from the ground up with one thing in mind: Inexpensive modifications and an utter absence of human dignity.

Meet “Champaign,” a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300SD with zero regrets, zero remorse, and zero dignity.

Earning a name for yourself in the Gambler 500 is kind of like taking home the gold ribbon down at the local county fair for the most funnel cakes consumed in one sitting. It may take everything you’ve got, and earn you some nods of recognition from those who have competed and failed to finish, but the rest of the hoi polloi is just going to shake its collective head in disbelief.

That’s alright though. Hoopties antics are not for everyone, just like funnel cakes and inflatable chickens. More on that last bit here in a few…


Mercedes Benz 300SD Gambler 500 Car

The Mercedes-Benz 300SD: The OG Goat of Indestructibility

Mods made to his Merc’s 3.0L five-banger turbo diesel motor are virtually nonexistent. Outside of changing the oil and piping the exhaust out the hood, this relic is bone stock and ready to rock. A superb testament to the indestructible status that has been bestowed upon the OM617 engine since its inception.

But the W126 chassis itself tends to suffer from many of the maladies that plague older Benz vehicles from that era. This gave Bryce just cause to swap in some Bilstein B8 dampers that had been outfitted with nitrogen bumpstops, and install some “custom” spring spacers. He also slapped in some Superduty coils in the rear, along with plated trailing arms and guide rods for added security.

We brought it back and stuffed 31’s [underneath], came out to King of  the Hammers last year, where it eventually landed a few sponsors. We did a year of racing Hooptie Cross and hopefully this year we plan on doing Vegas to Reno next after making an appearance at the Mint 400. -Bryce Ronsonet

Chopped, Modded, and Ready for More

After hacking up the fender wells of the 300SD for additional clearance, removing the front bumper, and installing a one-off skid plate guard out front, Bryce turned toward some other core necessities. KC Hilites were affixed in both C3 pods and “Daylighter” form, a roof carrier box with a Squatchboxx were slapped up top, a trick machined steering wheel was installed, a boost gauge, and Rugged Radio’s M1 unit was placed inside a custom aluminum dash surround.

While GT Radial Adventuro rubber churns out dust with the help of 15-inch 5×5.5 Method 304 alloys, our attention returns to Bryce Ronsonet and the story of how he came to own such a magnificent machine.

“It all started about a year and a half ago,” Bryce explains. “We decided to buy a car to take up to the Oregon dunes. The cheapest thing we can find. It was stock wrecked 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300SD. The front driver side was pushed in about a foot. So we pull it all out, lifted it a little bit, and stuffed 33-inch paddle tires under it.”

Needless to say, the Merc survived its maiden voyage, and has been gaining a ton of attention ever since. Now, about that rubber chicken…

The Mercedes-Benz 300SD Vehicle Specifications

– 1982 300SD W126

– 15-inch 5×5.5 Method 304’s

Suspension :

– Bilstein B8 dampers

– Bilstein nitrogen bumpstops

– Superduty coils in the rear

– Plated trailing arms and guide rods

Lighting :

– 6 KC Hilites 6” led day lighters

– 4 KC Hilites C3 pods

– Rugged m1/6100 combo mounted in a custom aluminum dash piece.

Mercedes Benz 300SD Gambler 500 Car

Photography Photo Credit By Method Race Wheels

About the author

Micah Wright

Raised on LEGOs by grandfathers who insisted on fixing everything themselves, Micah has been a petrolhead in training since age four. His favorite past times include craft beer, strong cigars, fast cars, and culinary creativity in all of its forms.
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