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What should I look for when buying a W123 Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

I am considering the purchase of a 1978 Mercedes-Benz W123 model. This car has only completed a genuine 27,000 miles from new. It is offered with all of the service invoices together with all the MOTs. The asking price is £6,000. What experience do you have with this model of Mercedes-Benz, especially the W123 variants, and are there any known concerns to look out for?

Asked on 2 November 2010 by KE, Basildon,

Answered by Honest John
Here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/mercedes-benz/e-clas.../?

The main Achilles heel is the simplex timing chain. If it has not been renewed on this car then it will probably need to be. The second is a failing back axle. Also, any rust at all decimates the value. They are quite strong old cars, but not completely bulletproof. £6,000 is a lot of money, so it needs to be spot on to be worth buying. And it isn't a daily driver, of course. Run an old car like this on a day-to-day basis, especially through the winter, and it will deteriorate badly.
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