1985 Mercedes-Benz W123 3.0L 5 cylinder turbo-diesel from North America
An absolute treasure, close to perfection
Vacuum locking system wasn't holding a charge, I replaced a few gummy/cracked lines with a few bucks worth of tubing from the hardware store.
Windshield was leaking water when it rained. I figured out that the windshield seal was slightly shrunken on the drivers side near the bottom. A tiny bit of clear silicone caulk (applied with my finger) solved the problem.
Front end needed alignment, the tires were wearing unevenly. This resulted in replacing the tires.
Tape deck died in the old Becker. Replaced with a cheap-o Kenwood until I can afford a nice CD player.
Alternator and battery replaced at 237,000 miles, along with a few belts that got shredded when the alternator seized. The alternator was original, so I wasn't going to begrudge it when it finally gave up the ghost.
Cracks in the dashboard from sun and heat. After all, the car IS 18 years old, with a navy blue interior.
I couldn't have made a better choice for a car. I'm a safety-minded teenager who was looking for my first car at 18. My budget wasn't much more than $2,000 (American) and I wanted a car that would be safe, inexpensive to maintain and reliable. What I got was just that. Not to mention that it's classy, comfortable and even (dare I say) loyal.
The 300D is slow from 0-20mph, but it really picks up when you get above that. After the turbo kicks in, it has the guts to pass other vehicles out on the freeway, and I've measured its top speed at a little over 100mph. Not bad for a heavy car with a little less than 120hp.
My car is not in the nicest cosmetic shape. Although the body is nearly devoid of dings, it has an ugly repaint from a previous owner that I'm not too keen on (original color, but there are some drips in the metallic finish and sun damage on the roof/trunk). Some of the chrome is oxidized (and a little milky instead of shiny). There is also rust starting on the rear wheel well on both sides, but not enough to really see unless you get down on your hands and knees and look under the vehicle.
Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, this car is a sweet vehicle. The body design is unique and classic. The suspension is just soft enough to be comfortable, but firm enough to give you good road feel and control. I've had passengers tell me what a great ride it has. Also, I know from my own driving experience that it can take a corner quite nicely if I push it.
From a dead stop, the 0-60 time is about 14 seconds. So sue it, it's 18 years old, and has almost 240,000 miles on the original 5-cylinder diesel engine. And as I mentioned before, it WILL do 100mph (cruising comfortably in the 75-85mph range).
Brakes are razor-sharp. Transmission is solid (for an automatic) and shifts with authority without being jerky.
Headlights are more than adequate (excellent for a car its age) and the standard-issue fog lamps are a MAJOR plus.
The climate control system works really well for me, heater and air conditioning both work great after all this time.
The seats are extremely comfortable, and I have received numerous unsolicited compliments (from other teenagers yet!) about how it's the most comfortable backseat that they've ever ridden in. Lots of leg room, and firm, but not hard padding. Also, there is generous headroom in the front and back.
The interior is beautiful, save for some cracks in the dash (from sun exposure) it looks brand new.
Trunk space is excellent. I have fit an unbelievable amount of things in there at one time, and there always seems to be a little more room. The older lower, longer trunk that the w123's had allows for a very large opening which in turn permits very large objects to be negotiated into it.
Well, I've raved enough. The clincher for me was as follows: In the early 90's, my dad owned a 1984 300D, and he was involved in a very bad accident wherein another car ran a red light and hit him caddy-corner on the passenger side. My 5 year old sister was in the passenger seat (the side of the collision) and although the car was totaled and nearly unrecognizable, the passenger compartment was untouched and both my dad and sister walked away without a scratch.
Those vehicles are designed to sacrifice themselves to save your life, and two of my family members may very well have that car to thank for theirs.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 12th May, 2003
Don't know if this will be helpful, but my dad has a W123, for all of its 23 years (1980 model) and I've been goin in it since I was born (18yrs). There is some rust around the rear wheel arches and this was getting worse - it was caused by leaking of the rear windscreen ruber seal. If you take the plastic covers off the inside of the trunk (on either side) - you will reveal the corrosion on the inside -change the rubber and it will stop. Do this immediately to protect your W123!!! you'll be sorry if you don't.