1986 Mercedes-Benz W124 230TE 2.3


Practical, classy lifestyle vehicle


Driver's side seat bolster worn through.

Clock not working when the car was acquired.

Slipping gearbox at 115k miles.

Front wheel bearings, ECU at 120k miles.

SLS pump at 130k miles.

Sunroof stuck at 130k miles.

Rusted exhaust, air-conditioning compressor and blower at 150k miles.

ABS, brake master-cylinder and foot-brake cable at 180k miles.

HT box at 185k miles.

Tailgate struts and speedo cable replaced twice over the years.

Rust on base of C pillar.

General Comments:

Although uncommon, this S124 model is probably the most numerous of any of the MB wagons in Malaysia

Elegant, practical car with novel seating for 7. My younger children (then) found the folding 3rd row seating fun to use.

I was the 3rd owner in Malaysia, where the car was brought in as a used UK import in 1989 with 40k miles on the clock.

Although not abused, the car appeared to be neglected by the last owner, so some TLC and $$$ was required to bring it back to some of its former glory - full service, clock repair, sunroof service, air-conditioning vents replaced, upholstery and dashboard repaired, new floor mats, etc..

Soft front spring seats but classic MB ride, stable round corners and on the straight due to the SLS and hydraulic rear suspension.

At 60mph, the single valve 2.3 engine turns over at 3k RPM and feels like it needs an additional gear. The car starts in 2nd gear.

Fuel consumption ranged from 22 MPG town use to 25 MPG in mixed driving. On a couple of runs KL - Singapore, it averaged 28 MPG at 60mph fully loaded with 6 on board with luggage.

Parts were easy to find, as the majority of parts are shared with its saloon counterpart, of which more than 2 million were built.

Even the tailgate struts were available off the counter. A ready supply of used and Taiwanese OEM parts keep ownership costs bearable.

The rather large steering wheel took some getting used to; later replaced with a smaller used MB steering wheel.

Over the 7 years, plenty of reqular maintenance and parts replacement, mostly age related, were needed to keep the car going.

Although the maintenance and repair costs over the years approached the initial purchase cost, it was still cheaper than the depreciation of a new car. The car sold for 60% of purchase price after 7 years.

Interesting (read busy) ownership experience educated me on the (potentially costly) requirements of MB ownership, the parts network, independent service options and prepared me for my current ride, a 1997 W210 E230.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th April, 2013

17th Apr 2013, 07:25

This sounds very close to the experience I had with my 1986. I'm very handy, and in the community where I live is a junk yard that specializes in Mercedes-Benz, and that has been a great resource for replacement parts. People spend a fortune on new parts, then have an accident and the cars are totaled. I'm now driving a Lexus RX300 AWD and there's no comparison. The Mercedes was nothing less than a luxurious Panzer Wagon that handled like it was riding on rails, while the Lexus is a jazzed up Camry with twitchy, dumb handling. There's really no comparison.