The definition of automobile
Timing chain and tensioner replaced.
Vacuum pump replaced.
Radiator core replaced.
Wheel bearings repacked.
My father bought this car in 1998 with less than 100000km and in museum condition. I was young and resented trading in our more modern 190E for a car designed in the 70's, but I have since come to love my "beast". The W123 is a magnificent piece of engineering. The styling is classic and distinctive. Living and working in a large city obsessed with new, the 20 year old Benz stands out. With care, it is a better car at 20 years old than many new cars today, which is a testament to how far ahead Mercedes was in that era. Non-car people often mistake it for new.
The Diesel is incredibly economical though obviously louder and a bit slower than one would like. Nevertheless, the engine sounds almost like a growling V8 and is satisfying. As for acceleration, the engine produces "thrust" rather than power. You do not have the response off the line of a modern gas engine, but once the turbo engages the engine will pull forcefully. The throttle has a very active response, unlike in a modern gas. The engine runs at peak torque at 100kn/h, so when you hit the accelerator at that speed the engine instantly responds and will pull over 170km/h. Because of the high compression of the diesel, releasing the throttle has the same effect: the car slows and will hold speed down steep hills without breaking. But the real performance of this car must be gauged differently. I have had the car loaded down, with extra cargo strapped onto the stuffed trunk without ever bottoming out the suspension, driven 150kn/h with the air condition on and gotten 28mpg.
This car looks like a car should look. It drives like a car should drive. There is no nonsense here: No leather seats (I would be replacing leather now, but my MB leather looks brand new), no computers, no ABS, and no air bags. Yet I would take my car against an SUV any day.
As you can see, many parts have been replaced and maintenance is expensive, but I haven't yet found a reason to trade in this car. W123 drivers are nearly fanatical in their devotion, and I feel much the same. If I were to buy a new car, it would probably be an OLDER Mercedes: a 6.9 as a toy, perhaps. The reason is simple: when you look up the word car in the dictionary, there is a picture of a Mercedes from the late 70's.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th September, 2004