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    RUN BY Graeme Hurst
    OWNED SINCE November 2011

    / #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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    Benz without knight fever / #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

    Rust-free W123s are rare things these days. We stumbled across this clean and well-specced ’ #1982 280TE just before Christmas at Slade’s Garage, High Wycombe, but what made it interesting is that it’s from the long-term ownership of Sir Barry Gibb, the sole surviving Bee Gee, who lives just around the corner. Low-mileage (though it had a speedo change soon after Gibb got it in 1988), sporting a Nardi wheel and air-con, and recently gone through by Roger Edwards Motors, it’s up for £14,950 – one-and-a-half times more than the base 200 in Case histories.
    Commendably, Slade’s resisted the temptation to put up the price (one titled owner, and all that) when Gibb got his knighthood in the New Year Honours list. For details

    Ex-Gibb Mercedes-Benz 123-Series looks like decent value
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    CAR: #Mercedes-Benz-200 / #Mercedes-Benz-200-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #1981-Mercedes-Benz-200-W123 / #1981 / #Mercedes-Benz-M102

    Year of manufacture 1981
    Recorded mileage 108,432km
    Asking price £10,500 Vendor W123 World, Cwmbwrla,
    Swansea: tel; 07714 089936; 01792 846888


    Price £8700 1981 UK
    Max power 109bhp
    Max torque 121lb ft
    0-60mph 14 secs
    Top speed 100mph
    Mpg 22-30

    The first owner of this left-hand-drive, German-supplied W123 was a senior manager at Mercedes in Stuttgart who wanted a car with as few electrical accessories as possible so that he could look after it himself in his retirement. Hence his choice of a manual 200 with carburettor engine, plus manual windows and sunroof, and no central locking. The only luxury he allowed himself was a good-quality Becker radio. It has a catalyser on the exhaust (for German cities) and still comes with its winter tyres.

    Specialist W123 World has recently recommissioned the car, replacing all of the brake calipers and hoses, radiator, battery and exhaust, and overhauled the carburettor. The previous owner was in Ireland and it has Irish plates, although it is still registered in Germany. There is no evidence of the structure ever having had paint or panelwork, and it has clearly led a quiet life. The bumpers and rubbing strips are in fine condition; the door shuts are crisp, plus the glass and light lenses are scratch-free all round.

    Pop the hefty bonnet and there are no problems with the hinges that W123s can suffer: it self props on its first catch and can go vertical for servicing. The bay is beautifully detailed, with all of the correct factory stickers. The engine is dry and leak-free, with oil and water to the correct levels. You can still see splashes of Waxoyl inside the wings.

    Inside, the blue seats with cloth inserts are unmarked and the driver’s seat base feels firm (they can sag). There’s no centre armrest, but there are factory overmats. Plus, the tool and first-aid kits are unopened.

    It looks smart on its steel wheels with body-coloured hubcaps and, while the quad circular lamps suggest an early car, it runs the later crossflow M102 ‘four’, so it feels surprisingly eager with the manual gearbox.

    It would be a miserable thing without power steering, but luckily the 200 has it and is a pleasant, undemanding drive with a stable tickover hot or cold and the usual full-deflection oil pressure under way. The steering is bereft of the straight-ahead play that can mar these cars, and the way the powerful brakes pull up straight reflects the work they’ve had.


    EXTERIOR Great factory body and paint
    INTERIOR Original and unmarked
    MECHANICALS Fully refurbished where necessary: just needs using


    For Must be one of the best unrestored W123s around
    Against Unexciting but easy-to-live-with specification


    This 200 is as straight and finely preserved as you could reasonably expect a near-40-year-old car to be
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    Fisherman’s friend / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz

    The editor recently spotted this W123 workhorse on the beach in Deal Kent. It belongs to Ben, a fisherman; that’s his boat nearby. He uses the estate to ferry fuel and other supplies to the boat prior to a fishing trip. On his return it is filled with all the fish he catches. A Mercedes enthusiast, Ben also owns a W124 model.
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    CAR / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz

    Run by Graeme Hurst
    Owned since Nov 2011
    Total mileage 271,854km
    Miles since August report c4000km (odometer broken)
    Latest costs R22k (£1200)



    When would-be classic owners ask for advice on buying a car, which they invariably fancy as something that won’t shed value like a modern, I always point out that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. As the years and miles roll by, the value may hold but stuff wears out and you may need to dig deep when the spanners come out. And that’s been the case with the TE after five years of use (plus its intergalactic mileage) caught up with the Mercedes. It began with the steering box, which was getting increasingly vague, making the wagon tricky to control in the Cape Doctor – the region’s strong south-easterly wind.

    Journeys were made more tiring by a drivetrain vibration, but balancing the prop (the usual culprit) didn’t improve things.

    And the offside front wheel tended to lock under heavy braking. Time, then, to digest the second piece of advice I dispense after the euphoria of purchase has passed: find a specialist who understands old cars and who you can trust to keep it running smoothly. In this case that was Allan Ketterer of JFT Motors, who’s spent nearly three decades under the bonnets of 123s. The news wasn’t good when he called back: the steering box was well past the point where it could be adjusted, while the vibration was due to tired engine and gearbox mounts – the rubber had separated from the metal surround on the latter. A blocked hose had allowed the nearside caliper to seize – so the offside one was doing all the work – and four new discs were needed. Secondhand boxes are likely to be just as worn, so I called the local Mercedes agent to price a new one: 46,000 Rand (c£2500) after duties! I only paid R34k for the car.

    The cost of new mounts was also a shock: R1900 per engine support and R3600 for the gearbox unit. So Allan offered to ring mates in the trade to locate good used ones, but he recommended using pukka M-B items. I listened politely and then insisted on pattern versions for a tenth of the price but they obviously weren’t as good. One trip to the coast convinced me that they weren’t up to the job and I soon had the TE back at JFT, with my credit card out to opt for the Stuttgart route after all.

    Hurst decided that cutprice mounts were a false economy after a long drive.

    Fresh steering box is a vast improvement. Inset: tired ’box mount; OEM engine ones.
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    CAR / #Mercedes-Benz-280TE-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-S123 / #Mercedes-Benz

    Run by Graeme Hurst
    Owned since Nov 2011
    Total mileage 267,854km
    Miles since February report c3000km (odometer broken)
    Latest costs R980 (c£45)


    Pratley’s Epoxy Putty: it’s a South African product that can fix just about anything and comes in glue or putty forms. And no home should be without it. Or car for that matter, as I recently discovered when a tube of it got the TE out of a sticky situation after the sump was holed on a journey to the Karoo.

    The trip was a re-run of one that we made last year to stay on a remote farm near Matjiesfontein, some 220km out of CapeTown. It’s 20kmfrom the nearest phone signal and tarred road. Only this time a little too much exuberance behind the wheel in the excitement to get there led to the car bottoming out in a dip in the gravel track while at speed. I didn’t think too much of it until we stopped about a kilometre on to open the farm gate and a mate (who had got out) commented that there was a thin trail of black oil behind the car. Yikes!

    Not wanting to be stranded with no lubricant and a car that I couldn’t move, I elected to cover the last kilometre as fast as possible. Luckily, the oil-pressure gauge was still at the top of its travel (typical Merc style) so the sump wasn’t empty.

    Once we were there, we all spent a maniacal few minutes searching for a suitable container. In the end, a dustbin lid had to suffice and I was able to collect some oil for re-use – and save the pristine gravel car park in front of the guest cottage.

    Once the stream of 20w50 had subsided, I could see the damage: the sump plug had taken a serious clout from a rock and the surrounding sheet metal had folded in. It probably would have been okay, except that three sharp corners of the plug’s octagonal head had pierced the metal, causing the leak. Fortunately, the farm had a barn full of tools that I could plunder and I found a suitable socket to allow me to straighten the plug with a hammer so that it could be undone.

    After cleaning it and the surrounding area with petrol, I was able to glue it in situ. I let it set overnight, poured the oil back in and checked the dipstick – just enough to register and get to Matjiesfontein and replenish… that was a relief!

    Sump holed after suspension bottomed.

    Hurst sets to, with canine support crew… …resulting in an effective temporary fix.

    Abi and Diesel always love trips out in the Merc, here at the period pumps on Matjiesfontein High St.
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    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.


    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.”


    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 71bhp@4,400rpm
    Torque 101lb ft@2,400rpm
    Transmission 4-speed auto, RWD
    Weight 1,395kg
    0-62mph 24.7sec
    Top speed 86mph
    Fuel consumption 29.7mpg
    Years produced #1976 / #1985


    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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