1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 Reviews - Page 2 of 5

1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 240D 2.4 diesel from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 2.4 diesel Manual
Distance when acquired180000 miles
Most recent distance195000 miles
Previous carVolvo 240

Summary:

You don't get a nicer ride, but watch for heavy oil consumption

Faults:

Alternator.

Valve seals.

General Comments:

I really like this car. Mercedes builds them like a tank.

I honestly feel the longevity of the motor is questionable though. Mine uses about a quart of oil every 400 miles, which seems to be quite common for these older diesels.

Fuel mileage is fantastic at about 28-32 mpg from the 4 speed manual transmission. The transmission could certainly have been equipped with a much higher 4 gear. The engine spins very fast, even cruising at 55 mph.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th June, 2008

25th Jun 2008, 18:20

Yes, you're right about the gearing. I have a UK 240d 5 speed, and even that sounds a bit busy at 80mph. I seem to get 38-40 mpg average though, so the extra gear must help.

8th Aug 2008, 04:29

The five speed box is very sought after in the US. I knew a guy who paid many thousands of dollars for one.

23rd Jun 2014, 04:27

I too owned a 240D 2.4L 4-spd manual in the mid 1980s. Used to get 40+ MPG (imp) consistently on the highway if I cruised it at 60 mph. Go over 65 and the economy would start to suffer, dropping into the 30s. Push it at 70-75 and you'd be down around 27. Didn't know you could get them with a 5 speed. That would have been nice.

1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 240D 2.4 diesel from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 2.4 diesel Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired150000 miles
Most recent distance188000 miles

Summary:

Yes I'd buy another lower mileage one

Faults:

In three years I've only replaced the alternator.

General Comments:

Probably the most comfortable oil burner I've ever owned. These cars for some reason are noted for being about to go 300 or 400k. Well make sure you have gallons of oil around to feed them. The engines can be almost completely worn out, but they will still continue to run great with no smoke. But the oil consumption will continue to go up and up. Presently mine is at about 300 miles per quart. Mileage is fantastic at about 30-34 mpg. And it fits my large frame with plenty of room. One of the few cars that I have to adjust the seat forward! The 4 cylinder diesel is peppy, but don't get in big hurry!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th May, 2008

1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 300D 3.0L I-5 diesel from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 3.0L I-5 diesel Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired201000 miles
Most recent distance217000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Jetta

Summary:

Solid, stately, and smooth - truly engineered for the long-haul and unfailingly reliable

Faults:

Suspension bushings are worn.

Driver's seat sags (which is very common in older Mercedes-Benz models) and needs to be rebuilt/re-stuffed.

Instrument cluster dimmer rheostat failed (also a relatively common fault in older Mercedes-Benz cars).

Consumes about a quart of oil between oil changes (every 3,000-3,500 miles) which is quite common for these older Mercedes-Benz diesels, and not bad considering I do most of my driving at 70 MPH (higher engine RPMs = more oil consumption).

Reverse lights are non-operational.

Two window regulators broke.

Power antenna is non-operational.

General Comments:

I bought the car from the original owner because it was a Southern California car with minimal rust, and it had a recently rebuilt transmission and a new air conditioning compressor. I had done much research on what kind of second car I would be purchasing as my commuter, and I found this car after looking at quite a few other cars. The W116, W123, and W126 Mercedes-Benz diesels are unstoppable. With valve adjustments, transmission fluid and filter changes, and oil changes done at regular intervals, well over 300,000 miles is perfectly possible, with even 500,000 miles not being a stretch.

I drive the car 100-110 miles each day on California highways as a commuter, and I love the car. I gets a solid 25 MPG combined city and highway mileage, no matter how I drive it. I expect the mileage to improve in the summer, and I don't think 28 MPG is unlikely in the summer with a conservative driving manner.

One word truly describes this car: SOLID.

The build quality on this car still shames Mercedes-Benz cars that are built today. Mercedes-Benz used to use the slogan that their cars were "engineered like no other car in the world." This car, along with almost any other Mercedes-Benz of its era - is proof that that slogan is the truth. My 300D really feels like it could run forever, and I have no doubt that it was purposefully designed that way.

From the slam of the doors, to the cast-iron construction of the diesel engine, to the simple and no-nonsense layout of the interior - the car feels unstoppable, and I love it more and more everyday. It soaks up the miles with a comfortable yet taut ride, and it has enough power (torque) to not feel flat-footed in any situation. Older Mercedes-Benz diesels aren't that slow if driven correctly, and with a general understanding of the torque-band of the engine. I don't even have a turbo model, and I have no problem cruising at 70 MPH on California highways, though it's not super-quiet yet it is tolerable.

The vacuum system can be finicky, as it controls everything from transmission shifting characteristics to the door locks.

When you buy a W123 Mercedes-Benz, your list of things to fix on the car becomes never-ending, because you want the car to shine like it should, and to be as perfect as it can. The small things may break (as with any car that is over 27 years old), but the true essence of the car is made for the long-haul. The car is easy to work on too, and cheap to work on if you do the work yourself. The oil change process is so simple. The diesel engine is a solid, simple, but practically bombproof motor that is fun to drive either slow or fast - the torque is fun to work with, once you know the motor's nature. Diesels rock.

There is a reason that these cars are used as taxis in the Sahara desert - they never die.

I love my W123 300D.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th January, 2008

13th Nov 2008, 21:52

I bought this car and converted it to run on veggie. Right now I am having shifting issues; it shifts too quick and has loss of power as a result.

14th Nov 2008, 12:21

Change both fuel filters. One is a canister and the other is an in-line. You may need to do it 2-3 times depending on the condition of the oil and the type of driving i.e. long distance highway (prone to clog) or in town city (drives like normal for longer).

19th Mar 2009, 09:29

I am looking at a 81 model 300D

Diesel 4 cylinder and a manual 4spd the car has 213K miles on it. Intermittent wipers, cruise, radio and antenna doesn't work.

But it rides and drives like a dream, what do you think?

9th Oct 2009, 23:33

Surely too late to help, but if it's a 300D, it'll have five cylinders.

19th May 2011, 03:53

Check the Banjo fitting in the back of the intake manifold (turbo only). If this or the line going to it are clogged, you are bypassing the turbo. When you clean it and replace the lines, your tranny should flatten out. Will run like a rocket...

Average review marks: 7.2 / 10, based on 17 reviews