This is the first of two W123's we purchased in 2002. A lot of dirt had to be removed, and some work done, due to the car coming from a rural farming area with a lot of bad, dirt roads.
The engine is still in perfect condition, and has only used oil once on a 2000 kilometer (approx. 1200 miles) journey through the Karoo desert, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius (approx. 110F).
The engine delivers a healthy share of power, and acceleration at speed is excellent. As with our other W123 (a year newer) this car is slightly sluggish when pulling away from a standing start. In Bloemfontein (almost 1 mile above sea level) it is extremely lazy, but at sea level in Cape Town (we experimented while down there last month) it has rather good torque, even from a standing start, owing to the better compression at that altitude.
The transmission is smooth, and selects higher gears at appropriate times. Unfortunately, this transmission does not automatically select a lower gear when more power is required, as with the other W123. Instead, the gear lever can be used to select lower gears in situations where this is needed. This may also be tied to the problem with selecting third gear when cold, and the box may need to be redone, but on the whole, it's good enough to leave it alone for the moment.
The interior is immaculate, a combination of functional comfort and classic style. All standard and luxury features are there, except for the power windows, which can be a hassle anyway. The ride is much smoother than the newer model W123, and even with brand new shocks, this car absorbs shock from the road gently.
The power operated sunroof is an interesting addition in this unit, combined with the eye-catching red paint job (original) and an abundance of chrome, it makes this car stand out in a crowd.
As with our other W123, considering the size and weight of the car, fuel efficiency is reasonably good, again, air conditioning and a heavy load have a negligible effect.
Handling is solid and the power steering makes city driving easy, considering once again the size of the car.
A host of gadgets and safety features come standard, like front and rear fog lights, and a buzzer to alert the driver that they have forgotten to turn off headlights or other instruments when leaving the car.
Although slightly on the expensive side, at roughly $2400, I still think it's a lot of car for the money, even more so when the relatively low mileage (for a Mercedes) and the reliability are considered.