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Mercedes-Benz W123

Mercedes-Benz W123 Published: 6th Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz W123
Mercedes-Benz W123
Mercedes-Benz W123
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A quality saloon, estate or coupé that took over from where the Fintail left off, it’s the last of over-engineered Mercedes!

Ever since the W110 was discontinued in 1968, lovers of three-pointed star saloons were hoping for a successor and they found it in the W123, one Benz’s very best. Launched in 1975 it’s regarded as one of last of the traditional Mercs where first class engineering and quality build were the trademarks. Costly as a result when new, they are now an upcoming pragmatic classic.

What makes them so special

If you’re after a German sports saloon of the BMW kind, then – despite the 177bhp twin cam 280E – best look elsewhere. However, if you value integrity, dependability, decorum and dignity then few cars provide like the W123 which is what they still make great practical prestigious daily drivers and still seen as taxis the world over. They feel distinctly 1970s with a typical sombre rather sporty attitude to hot shoe driving that most Merc saloons also displayed before the 190 came along, but high speed cruising is another matter.

Right choice

The W123 was available in saloon, estate (utterly brilliant with its self-levelling suspension) and coupé guises, the latter known as the CE with a shorter body and pillar less windows. Although fine once up to speed, the 200/200D models are plodders in auto form, the best all rounder is the 109-134bhp 230 range. If you want a diesel, try to find the five-cylinder 300TD which at least offers passable performance although the 2.4TD was the most popular choice in the UK. When it comes to trim levels, while none are exactly plush – last of the line CEs are best of all. But what the W123 has seemingly lasts for an eternity.


Good value still but buy before the market fully cottons on to their worth – which will be soon. Budget for around £7500 for the best saloon but estates and CEs will be double this; around 5K will secure a good saloon or average CE but be wary of any much cheaper as restoration on this over engineered classic are prohibitive. There’s plenty around, the vast majority being left-hand drive if that doesn’t phase you.

Significant dates

W123 saloon was introduced for ’76 model year with a variety of petrol and diesel engine options with the CE coupé joining a year later – petrol power only – along with special limousine versions. For ’78 the ’T’ estate arrives with more selective engine range (including new 3-litre diesel), plus Crayford makes handful of convertibles. Major facelift for ’80 ushers in better rustproofing and engines, including new turbo-diesels, ’82 adds fivespeed manual option, standard power steering (previously optional) and increased rear seat room.

Don’t get caught out…

  • A good starting point is dedicated dealer W123 World of Swansea.
  • According to experts the paintwork was one of the factory’s very best and so poor restoration and repairs are fairly easy to detect.
  • Pre-1981 models are affected the most for rot but all are prone at the bulkheads, crossmembers, sills, jacking point boot floor, front suspension mounts and the front slam panel by the headlights.
  • Look for hot running, head gasket failure (280 the most prone), bunged up rads, and poor fuel systems, especially the carburettors.
  • The self-levelling system can cost £2000 or more to repair if defective.

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