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Mercedes-Benz W123 / C123. Another desirable Mercedes – again, one the classic market is only just waking up to. The...
Mercedes-Benz W123 / C123.

Another desirable Mercedes – again, one the classic market is only just waking up to. These are famous for their longevity, and as a sensible and fairly cheap to run four-door saloon, they’re a much more practical alternative to a sports car. One for the prudent investor!
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  •   Alan Lovell reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    MERCEDES-BENZ 280TE
    RUN BY Graeme Hurst
    OWNED SINCE November 2011
    PREVIOUS REPORT Jan 2017

    / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-Automatic-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-Automatic / #1982-Mercedes-Benz-280TE-Automatic-S123

    The TE has put some miles under its belt recently, mainly with trips to the Cape coast or the inland Karoo – it being the only ‘dog’ and ‘tow’ car in the fleet, so perfect for weekend adventures. The trouble is, a faulty odometer means that I have no idea how many miles, so have to judge the service intervals by the colour of the oil.

    My mates in the Mercedes-Benz Club are rather horrified by that arrangement, along with the sort of use we give the car. Which highlights a dilemma: the wagon variant of the #W123 is super-rare on South African shores and they’re increasingly coveted by collectors, but ours is very much a working classic in daily use because I simply don’t have the space to keep it for high days and holidays.

    Mind you, as classic daily drivers go, a 123 wagon is perfect for the job, although the maintenance does start to rack up on a car that’s likely covered 300,000km-plus. It’s all been minor stuff, such as a faulty start-inhibitor switch on the gearbox (meaning that the car would only start in neutral) and a weeping power-steering hose. Both were easily sorted by local specialist Allan Ketterer of JFT Motors, who also suggested having the radiator flushed and ‘rodded’ to ensure that the cooling system is in optimum condition. This was after the temperature needle started creeping towards the red on a trip up the west coast last Christmas.

    To be fair, the journey involved towing a trailer with the car four-up in 35ºC heat, but I was conscious that, as a full import, the TE has a standard European-market radiator and not the larger item our locally assembled sedans enjoy. I thought of installing a local version, but wagons were fitted with an oil cooler, so there isn’t space. Ketterer suggested fitting a relay to hardwire the electric fan on whenever the air-conditioning is running; with that and a clear core, the needle is now stable on hot days. Another problem with daily use is the risk of knocks from other cars. Or in our case rather more than just a knock, after the back of the Merc was clipped by a Range Rover at an intersection. Fortunately the impact was directly on the offside tail-light lens, so the metalwork emerged unscathed, but replacing the lens was a reminder of why these cars are increasingly finding their way into cotton-wool-wrapped collections: second-hand estate items are non-existent, and a new lens (in a dusty Stuttgart box that looked to be new-old-stock) cost a whopping R5480 (£322!) from the main agent. Thankfully the guilty party was properly insured, and even still made her yoga class on time. Namaste!

    A true ‘lifestyle’ estate doing what it does best, as the Merc hauls dogs and kayaks to the Palmiet River in Betty’s Bay. Getting hot under the collar on west coast. Altercation with Range Rover proved costly New power-steering hoses cured weeping. ‏ — at South Africa
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Marathon #Mercedes-Benz W123 / YOUNGTIMER 240D

    A daily driver for 30 years and now a cherished classic, this W123 240D is still bringing joy to its first and so far only owner. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    The 1970s were great years for Mercedes-Benz. The company was fully recovered from the devastation it suffered during World War Two and was the global symbol of the West German economic miracle. With a succession of successful models that included sports cars like the 300SL, luxury models in the W111s and mainstream models like the ‘New Generation’ W114/W115 saloons and coupes, Mercedes-Benz was on a roll. This was the backdrop to the 123-series cars.

    Like the W114/W115 models they replaced, the 123s were the era’s E-Classes, cars that would cover a wide range of buyers’ needs, from utilitarian taxis and practical, premium saloons and estates, to stylish coupes. Their styling is now considered timeless and for many, with even the last cars in the series now more than 25 years old, the 123-series is the entry point for classic Mercedes-Benz ownership. The saloon models (W123s) were introduced in 1976, just three years after the first OPEC oil embargo. This made their relatively diminutive dimensions and wide variety of four- and six-cylinder petrol engines and four- and five-cylinder diesel engines a perfect alternative to traditional luxury cars, especially in America. And so it was that James Bryant walked into his local Mercedes-Benz showroom, House of Imports in Buena Park, California, and traded in his 1979 Cadillac Seville and drove off in a brand new $22,000, 1982 model year Mercedes-Benz 240D in yellow/gold. It was the start of a love affair that has now lasted 30 years.

    UNWAVERING DEDICATION

    The Mercedes Enthusiast connection to this time capsule 240D started almost three years ago when we encountered it at a car show in nearby Tustin. Even among million dollar exotics like a 1950 Ferrari 195S, Bryant’s 240D stood out. It looked exactly like it did when he drove it off the forecourt of House of Imports years earlier. We struck up a conversation with Bryant as he gave us a bumper to bumper tour of the car. In spite of its like new condition inside and out, he pointed out the car had travelled more than 113,000 miles! It was hard to believe it hadn’t undergone a costly restoration. Rather, it is an example of a car that is properly maintained by a meticulous owner who keeps his car as fit as he does himself.

    Bryant, now 69 years young, is a marathon runner who has participated in his favourite sport for 35 years. Is it a coincidence that he has owned his 240D almost as long?

    When asked how he made the transition from a V8 Cadillac Seville to a four-cylinder, 71bhp Mercedes-Benz 240D, here’s what he had to say. “It was at the end of the year in 1982 when I considered a Mercedes-Benz 280,” remembers Bryant. “But the 240D was available and I took a test drive. I couldn’t get over how solid it felt. While not equipped with all the luxury features of my Cadillac, it had air conditioning, which is a must here in Southern California. And after negotiating with the salesman, it was mine.”


    For much of its life, the yellow/gold 240D was Bryant’s daily driver, used for his commute. Since his retirement in 2008, this modern classic #Mercedes-Benz has covered around 2,500 miles a year, which is enough to keep everything in perfect working order. Bryant notes that he has only had minor problems to deal with, including replacing the water pump, water hose, power door locks, brake pads and radiator. “I keep up the maintenance of my car,” he tells us. “My car has the original paint, upholstery, exterior mouldings and exhaust pipes, and the spare tyre has never touched the ground. I’ve even rebuilt the clock.”

    PRESERVING PERFECTION

    As you may imagine, keeping the 240D in as delivered condition has been a labour of love for Bryant. “I never drive my car in the rain unless I get caught out, and I never wash my car with soap when cleaning,” he says. “I only use clear water. I change the oil every three months, no matter how little I drive the car. I have used around 12 cans of wax on it! I’m not sure how much chrome polish I have used to maintain the lustrous shine, but it was worth it – and the underside of my car looks as good as the bodywork.” He also says keeping the tyres properly inflated helps fuel economy and extends the life of the rubber itself. Indeed, Bryant is currently on just his third set.

    Meeting Bryant and his 240D to take the photographs for this feature only underlined the excellent condition of his Mercedes. It could easily have been 1982. Indeed, had it been 1982, the In-N-Out Burger outlet we stopped at in Costa Mesa to take pictures at and grab some dinner in might well have been there. And although Bryant was happy to take his 240D through the drive through, a quintessentially Southern Californian thing to do, there was no chance that he would be eating in the car’s flawless leather interior. Instead, we went inside. And as we ate, I could see him keeping an eye on his Mercedes saloon parked just a few feet away. Munching on burgers and fries – Bryant made an exception in his otherwise healthy eating regime – I asked if he were to replace his 240D with a new car, what would it be?

    “Firstly, the 240D is like a part of my family now so I’m not sure I would trade it in,” he was quick to respond. “But I think I would purchase a CLS63 AMG. It’s much faster than my 240D. And I’d like to do a European delivery. How great would it be to take delivery in Germany and then put the hammer down on the autobahn?”

    We couldn’t agree more. And we are sure that if the time comes to pass on the 240D to a new owner, there would be many Mercedes enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic that would happily take the keys. The line starts right here.

    I’m not sure how much polish I have used to maintain the lustrous shine, but it was worth it.

    It may lack pace, but it is an easy drive and is also very well built.
    The air con keeps you cool, the original leather still remains.
    Used little and often, an average of under 4,000 miles per year.
    The OM616 engine delivers the 240D to 62mph in 24.7 seconds.
    The spare wheel has never been used in 30 years.
    It has a four-speed auto, all the trim is original.
    The W123 has enough room for three in the rear.
    The familiar #Mercedes-Benz-W123 face here with the distinctive headlights required to meet US regulations.

    It is in like new condition inside and out, but has travelled more than 113,000 miles!

    These chromed alloys have been on this 240D since Bryant bought it new.
    Bryant still has the original manuals and a plate from the supplying dealer.

    JUS T THE FACTS / TECHNICAL DATA #Mercedes-Benz-240D-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-240D / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-OM616

    Engine #OM616 2,399cc 4-cyl
    Power [email protected],400rpm
    Torque 101lb [email protected],400rpm
    Transmission 4-speed auto, RWD
    Weight 1,395kg
    0-62mph 24.7sec
    Top speed 86mph
    Fuel consumption 29.7mpg
    Years produced #1976 / #1985

    Overview

    This, the most powerful four-cylinder diesel #W123 , was also easily the best seller, 448,986 units sold worldwide
    Figures for a #1982 model year car as pictured; fuel consumption according to EEC urban ‏ — at California, USA
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  •   Richard Truesdell reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    The #1976 #Mercedes-Benz-280E-W123 #Mercedes-Benz-280E #Mercedes-Benz-W123 #Mercedes-Benz

    We love the colour – and the fact that this very early #W123 saloon has what is regarded as the best engine in the range.

    BODYWORK
    As far as we can tell, this classic Mercedes-Benz is totally rust-free. The panelwork’s straight, with no obvious dents or ripples and good panel gaps all round. The yellowy-green colour is unusual, but it suits the car – especially when paired with the cream trim. We can’t see any mismatched panels, either. All the hubcaps are in good order, with no kerbing. There’s a small dent to the front bumper beneath the nearside headlamp, though this doesn’t detract much from the overall condition, which, as you can see, is excellent!

    INTERIOR
    The seats are beige vinyl, with creamy coloured tweed inserts. They’re in great condition, with no tears or stains that we could see. The rear bench is in equally good order, with no marks at all. Mercedes seats of this era are always well sprung and comfortable, and these are no exception. The cream carpets are lovely too; no holes and no overly worn patches despite its 103,000 miles. The headlining is utterly unmarked, and the door cards look as if they’ve just left the factory.

    MECHANICALS
    The car sits on Firestone F540s all round, and there’s plenty of tread left on them. A new exhaust was fitted in 2005, though there’s little else in the history file to confirm any work carried out by the six previous owners. As it stands it seems to be in good mechanical condition. The autobox changes smoothly and responds well to kickdown, the handbrake works as do the foot brakes, and there are no expensive sounds of imminent doom emanating from the differential.

    ON THE ROAD
    This example feels like a sorted W123 should – comfortable, competent, and efficient. It’s maybe not as quick as the 2.8-litre six would have you believe – but it’s comfortable, brisk, and has a lovely aura of being unhurried. The gearbox is well-matched to the engine, too, and the nice soft suspension and comfy seats make this a relaxing car in which to cover long journeys. This one feels good – like all Mercedes of this era do – and at just over 100,000 miles it barely feels worn in. This is by no stretch of the imagination a sports car, but this can build up a respectable head of steam if required and it corners well enough by classic Mercedes standards. The brakes are sharp, and everything under the bonnet sounds as it ought to.

    OUR VERDICT
    Unusual colour? Check. Usable family classic? Check. Bound to appreciate? Check. This is too nice a car to pass up if you want.

    AT A GLANCE


    EXTERIOR
    Odd colour, but it’s original
    Good chrome, no rust

    INTERIOR
    Carpet excellent, headlining
    untouched

    MECHANICALS
    Recent exhaust, all feels good
    PROS Nice, original, early W123
    CONS Colour might divide opinion

    SPECIFICATIONS
    ENGINE 2746cc/6-cyl/DOHC
    POWER [email protected]
    TORQUE 173lb [email protected]
    MAXIMUM SPEED 124mph
    0-60MPH 9.9sec
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 22-25mpg
    TRANSMISSION RWD, three-spd auto
    MoT 12mths from sale

    BUY IT FROM
    Kim Cairns Classics, Common Road, Snettisham, Norfolk PE31 7PF.
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