1980 Mercedes-Benz W123 280E 2.8, 6 cylinder. Fuel injection, double overhead c
A luxurious, reliable car, excellent value for money
Drive mechanism for power window at drivers' seat has broken, replaced easily with second hand parts, approx. $100.
Uses a small amount of oil while driving in city traffic conditions. Doesn't seem to be major.
Had to replace a cooling pipe, radiator is now solid, no water loss whatsoever, repairs approx. $70.
Fuel reserve indicator light activates too early, at 1/4 tank. No time to check it out yet.
Some wear on the paint on the boot (trunk). Will have restored.
Slight twitch when transmission shifts from second to third gear, might need to replace oil and filters. All other transitions are smooth.
This car has been extremely reliable in terms of getting from point A to point B, the engine and transmission not even hinting at trouble, both in town, and on long drives, including terrible heat, cold and mountainous terrain, dirt roads, and roads in bad condition.
For town driving, this car is slightly sluggish, owing to the weight and size. Step on the accelerator with any exuberance however, and it goes like a rocket. It has good pull-away power from a standing start, and further acceleration when already at some speed is blinding.
Gear transitions are excellent, and the transmission responds well to situations where more speed is needed, delaying some transitions to allow faster acceleration. When the throttle is opened at speed, a lower gear is selected almost immediately to produce massive torque delivery.
In first gear, selected only when the transmission is shifted to "low", this car will tackle almost any incline with ease, and traveling down hill in lower gears allows conservation of brake pads as the massive compression does most of the slowing down.
The car's weight allows it to negotiate high speed corners comfortably, with not even the slightest hint of going off balance or spinning out of controle.
Fuel consumption on the long road is excellent, considering the size of the car. Most interestingly, there is almost no difference in consumption when driving with or without the air conditioning unit, showing the large in-line-6 2.8 litre engine has power to spare. Extra weight from heavy loads doesn't have much of an effect on power or fuel consumption either.
The power steering allows for relatively easy town driving and parking in some seriously tight spots. It won't go where a Fiat Uno will, but it fits into most of Bloemfontein's tight parallel parking spots easily.
The breaks respond almost immediately and have massive stopping power. Response varies ofcourse to the ammount depression on the pedal, making it easy to modulate the breaks at crawling speeds, and still being powerful enough to stop the car quickly in emergency situations.
Inside, the car is comfortable, seats are still in excellent condition. Noise levels are very low, and the air conditioning unit maintains pleasant temperatures even when the outside temperature reaches over 30 degrees Celsius (approx. 100 F) Armrests in the center and doors for all passengers are a wonderful luxury, which is standard on these models. Unfortunately this unit was ordered without headrests for the rear passengers, still, the back seat is extremely comfortable. The interior of the car is still like new, everything is in excellent condition.
The boot provides ample space for shopping trips and the drive on vacation.
Instruments on the dash are within easy reach and well arranged, although the absence of a rev. counter is a slight disappointment. The center of the dash shines with classic style. Turn-dial controles operate the air conditioning, fan speed, and separate heating for systems for the two front passengers. Air may also be directed to the front foot wells, creating airflow under front seats and delivering heating or cooling to rear passengers via the foot well (which is a contiuous floor space under the front seats, running through to the rear)
Headlamps are powerful and provide an excellent view of dark roads. The level controle, allowing the beam hight to be adjusted from the dash for different loads, is an extremely handy addition to the 1980 model. Powerful wide-angle, short range fog lights are a valuable safety feature, installed standard on all W123 models.
The car's exterior is still almost perfect, barring one or two very minor blemishes and some paint on the boot that will need a slight bit of work. The understated, but abundant use of chromium steel (a practice that would die out starting with the 1982 W123 series) gives this car a wonderful character, and catches the eye of collectors at car shows, and passers by in the parking lot alike.
We purchased this car for roughly $1800. This is wonderful value, for a reliable and luxurious town and long drive car. This is the second of two W123's we purchased in the year, a review of the other one (a 1979 model) is forthcoming.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th January, 2003
4th Dec 2003, 00:57
Felt compelled to write a thank you to the author for an informative article on this model `Benz.
Having previously owned a 230 W123 and currently looking for a classic sedan in Australia to buy again, this has re-kindled my interest in the marque.
13th Apr 2004, 05:26
I've just bought a 1982 280CE for AUD$2,000; okay the paintwork needs some attention, but the mechanicals seem bulletproof, and the electrics (windows, sunroof) still work perfectly.
I notice that you mention the acceleration and I've noticed that too in my car. Around inner city Melbourne and at low speeds it seems sluggish, but when you really put your foot down... whoosh, it goes! It loves open roads and high speeds. The only downside is that it won't run on Standard 91 RON unleaded; apparently you're supposed to use Super 98 RON unleaded (though 95/96 RON lead replacement petrol is supposed to be okay - that's what I've been using) which is quite pricey.
29th Mar 2007, 14:37
I have just bought a 1984 model w123 280E with 117K miles on it, and it is everything the reviewer has stated and more, for the record my car has a full velour interior and is in sky blue metallic with 4 speed auto, with Yokohama tyres all round, electric windows x 4, electric sunroof, central locking, bluespot stereo, electric aieral and wooden dash with centre arm rest, everything works as Mercedes intended. My car has no paint problems and drives like a drive, it's a bit juicy, but I can live with that.
I own two modern cars a Honda Accord and a Daihatsu, but the Merc is better, I will never sell the Merc, it is the best car ever built bar none.
The car has full service history and 12 months mot I paid £450 (GBP) in March 2007, this is my 3rd w123, I have also owned modern Merc's, but they are not that good, getting better now though.
12th May 2007, 14:20
I recently purchased a 1979 280ce with 98,000 miles (U.S.). The car is in terrific condition,. I would like to know what the gas mileage should be. Right now the car runs fantastic.
3rd May 2008, 20:21
I have a 1980 Mercedes 280 CE in excellent condition, runs great. 139,000 miles. Show looking Royal Blue. I don't know how much to sell it for.
25th Mar 2011, 18:36
Is there anybody else in Australia that owns a factory W123 250 4 speed manual Benz with the classic badge on the boot?