1986 Mercedes-Benz W123 Review

1986 Mercedes-Benz W123 W 123 200T 4-cylinders from Malaysia

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2004
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 4-cylinders Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.6 / 10
Distance when acquired79100 miles
Most recent distance82500 miles
Previous carToyota Camry

Summary:

Superb all rounder. Get a fine specimen and you will not want to part with it

Faults:

The door locking system is past its best. The vacuum may have been reliable in the past, but is erratic and confusing to operate now. Apparently, it's a pretty common fault on these old Mercs.

I've has it changed recently, and fitted in an alarm system as well. True, nobody's going to steal this old timer, but hey, it's still a Merc!

The starter is beginning to give problems (I think..) There's no trouble at all starting in the morning or at most other times. In fact, it cranks up perfectly 9 out of 10. However, I find that it may just occasionally take a while to start up after a hot day and in frequent start/ stop situations. It's a minor irritation, but I'd rather not have to worry. So I replaced it.

I just want to know if it was normal for the Merc to behave like this (my Camry starts first time, always, whatever the circumstances and situation), and did I do the right thing by replacing the starter?

The alignment rod & link was in poor shape. That caused uneven wearing of the front driver's side tyre, and poor feedback from the steering. I had the whole thing replaced as well.

Steering free-play is a bit too much, and the steering response is not that sharp. I have to concentrate just keeping this monster from drifting left and right.

I'm told the steering mechanism needs adjusting, and it will take a full day. I have not fixed it to date.

The antenna wasn't working too. I had the original one (Hirschmann?) replaced as well, with a Japanese brand. (I really would have gone for the original if I could find one here..)

Seats were too soft and well used, after 18 years. But the fabric was surprisingly in good condition! No wear nor tear. I only had the seats firmed up, and they are much more supportive now.

I detected a leak at the wagon door rubber seal (top). I believe it was due to carelessness and negligence while fixing the 3rd brake light (with wires running down the seal) years ago. It was slightly broken and torn, but enough to permit water to drip in when strong water pressure is applied to the panel gap. I am unable to fix the seal, and there's no replacement part in Malaysia. Apparently, there's no more stock for this model (I would appreciate it if any reader could direct me to a supplier, and/or a rough estimate of the cost).

Apart from the above minor issues, I had all the fluids and oil (engine, filter, brakes, axle, auto transmission, etc, etc) replaced, when I got the car a few months back.

General Comments:

In one sentence, it is a beautiful car!

I have been driving Japanese makes for the past 10 years, my most recent one being a Camry. I thought I'd try out a Merc, just to see... But at the same time, I didn't want and couldn't afford an expensive mistake or a lemon, so I played it 'safe' by getting this old, but pretty reliable model (I did my homework).

This car came from UK. The previous owner brought it back with him when he came home in 1993, and used it until recently.

I will venture to say it is in mint condition; no accidents at all, no rust anywhere (I checked every inch), paintwork original, even the wheel caps are original. Air-con is wonderful.

No leaks, squeaks, rattles, funny sounds nor noises.

The interior is pristine. The dashboard is perfect, not a single crack or mark. The same goes for the door fabrics, all the stitches still in place. The MBtex material is still shiny and unblemished. No unsightly grease marks, prints nor stains anywhere. Credit goes to the previous guy, I'm just doing my best to continue his fine legacy.

The manual sunroof is still in good condition and doesn't leak, though I seldom use it.

Whatever that's powered or electrical that's suppose to work, works. Period.

The build quality is simply superb. For an 18 year old car, it's quite incredible that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Structurally sound and bomb proof, I've not seen anything like it.

You need to experience closing those doors to feel what a solid 'thunk' sound like. It is very reassuring.

True, I need to make some adjustments to drive it; placement of hand brake, ignition, main lights, bonnet level, but it is a small matter.

The wagon space is very good for all sorts of stuff imaginable. With the rear seats folded flat, I've actually taken a nap there. Good for two.

The car came with a towing device fitted at the rear bumper, and a roof rack (were these factory fitted?) Very good for the weekend fishing trips with the gang.

It is not a speed demon. You will be disappointed at the traffic lights. At approximately 1,500kgs and 2000cc, it is at best, a cruiser. And what a cruiser!

I think the car is happiest when I'm traveling long distance. Its strength lies not so much in sprinting, but in the marathon.

Then, the engine purrs, the suspension takes in whatever you may care to go over with aplomb. The air con is still strong enough to cool the 7th passenger, and the original Becker is still blaring out the local tunes. (An aside - I found the Becker finger friendly. Much easier to operate than many other modern systems).

This car has a tendency to urge you on. It is a beast to move about at <60 kph, but above that, it excels. If I am not attentive, it will easily go past 140kph without the slightest hint.

It is just so steady and assured, you don't feel any changes in the engine noise; no wailings, no straining, no shudder nor vibration. The car does not shake nor rattle. Just the needle crawling upwards and rightwards.

However, I find the side mirrors a tad smallish. It can be difficult to check for vehicles, especially as the back pillars (D pillars?) are broad. My solution is to stick those little round convex mirrors at the edge of the side mirrors. Ungainly looking, but they help visibility quite a bit.

Though deemed unnecessary, I have also installed rear reverse sensors. (I can't bear to think if I were careless enough to dent the bumper..). Instead of drilling holes in the bumper (classic, by the way), I had the sensors installed just beneath the metal part, so it looks like 2 little black moulds next to the reverse and fog lights. Doesn't look too bad at all, really.

The other sore point is the fuel consumption. I knew beforehand that this is no economical sub 2000cc sipper, but the returns are quite terrible; roughly 60 litres for 350km. As a comparison, my Camry averages 500km. And it's a 2.2

Is this normal? But anyway, given that it is a carburettor, it's old, and pretty heavy, I can live with it. Just another adjustment to make..

Overall, I believe it is a good buy. I love this car and my only regret is I did not own it from day 1.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th May, 2004

28th Dec 2011, 21:20

What a wonderful car.. You have got almost an original car.. Do you still have this car?

Average review marks: 7.6 / 10, based on 1 review