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Mercedes-Benz W123

Mercedes-Benz W123 Published: 22nd May 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz W123
Mercedes-Benz W123
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Why should I buy one?

Launched as the 02 gave way to the 3 Series, the W123 was Mercedes’ first true compact saloon that’s the last of the true old school Mercs available as a four-door, five-door estate (‘T’) plus also classy two-door coupé. The W123 had a 110in wheelbase and drew from S Class experience and DNA, making one a good dependable daily driver.

What can I get?

There’s a wide range to suit all tastes. The saloon is roomy and comfy and certainly family-sized while the yeoman-like estates make excellent family ferriers or attractive, practical second runabouts with their self-levelling suspension. If you fancy a touch of style, then look at the cultured CE coupé, that’s ideal if an SL is too small and restrictive for your needs.

None are no lightweights so unless you go for the top six-cylinder 280, where pace from its 182bhp engine still isn’t that startling, pace is mild at best. Another reason for their sedate feel is that the vast majority are automatics but it’s a good system whereas the manual transmission is none too impressive. Our pick would be a post 1980 230 model; a four-cylinder ohc engine good for over 130bhp. Obviously, Mercedes make some of the best diesels and there’s two: 240D: a four-cylinder 2399cc diesel yielding a sluggish 72bhp or the five-cylinder 2998cc alternative offering 88bhp. All are plodders but highly dependable.

What are they like to drive?

In many ways W123s feel a bit like a W107 SL but more adept for family use. As we said, it’s an old school Mercedes which means that they look and feel like they have been cast out of granite and so equally tough and long lasting. They were also grossly over-engineered, the type of car Mercedes-Benz prided itself on before the C-Class came along! Performance and handling is distinctly sober and secure but it’s the sort of car you know that you are going to make your destination in safely, whatever the terrain or weather and once up to speed they cruise delightfully all day long.

What are they like to live with?

Although not as easy as an SL in terms of specialist and club support you can obtain certain parts from main dealers if your pockets are deep enough. Check out W123 World (www. for parts prices and availability; is also excellent. As we said, the W123 was over engineered and quite enjoyable to work on; most will run on carbs so there’s no EFI to worry about (230 and 280 excepted). If you don’t fancy getting your mitts dirty then there’s an army of Mercedes independents who will do the necessary for you at very reasonable costs.

Pre-1981 models are affected the most for rot but all prone at the bulkheads, crossmembers, sills, jacking point, boot floor, front suspension mounts and the front slam panel by the headlights. Good value still; budget around £7500 for the best saloon (CE double this) with plenty around, although the vast majority will be left-hand drive if that doesn’t phase you unduly.

We reckon

A quality saloon, estate or coupé that took over from where the classic Fintail left off, it’s the last of over-engineered Mercedes that’s amazingly good value – but for how much longer? Buy on condition not spec or trim.

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