Mercedes-Benz W123 (1975 – 1985) Review

Mercedes-Benz W123 (1975 – 1985) At A Glance


+Beautifully made, classy and practical, estate version useful too

-Undervalued, which makes expensive repairs financially unviable

The legendary Mercedes-Benz W123 generation of saloons was a huge sensation for its maker, establishing it in all manner of new markets - thanks primarily to unmatched build quality, sober-suited style, and a wide range of engines. The W123 was also the first Mercedes-Benz to be offered in estate form - T-models were rolled out in 1980, with a range that echoed that of the saloons.

The W123 was possibly the company's high watermark although, in the UK in the late 1970s, you paid through the nose for the privilege of owning one. Base-model 200 and 200D were both poor performers (that would go on forever), with the 230E a much better all-rounder. Twin-cam 280E is an all-purpose sporting saloon that matched the best of the opposition - without losing a shred of Mercedes-Benz's core values.

The pillarless Coupe CE models proved popular over the years, with almost 100,000 built during an eight-year production run. The CE was effectively a W123 saloon with 10cm taken out of the wheelbase, while retaining the same hard-wearing interior. Good to look at and, in higher-powered form, almost as rewarding to drive as it was to own.

Mercedes Benz W123 230E Road Test

Ask Honest John

I want to buy a classic car, but will they be outlawed in the UK in the near future?

"I'm planning to buy a Mercedes W123 as a daily driver. There's an independent Mercedes mechanic who specialises in W123 repairs just 2 miles away. Do you think that the Government's drive to electric cars will lead to old petrol and diesel cars being outlawed in the near future? Thank you."
Do you live in a city centre? If so, you might find that a W123 doesn't meet the regulations if a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is introduced (or already exists). Currently, these are already in place in London and Bath, with plans to roll them out across numerous UK cities including Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. If they follow the same format as London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), cars with historical status (over 40 years old) will be exempt from charges. Otherwise, older Mercedes models like the W123 are unlikely to be outlawed. You'll need to be prepared for high maintenance costs running one as a daily driver but, on the flip side, a good one is unlikely to depreciate.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Why does my 1982 Mercedes-Benz E-Class struggle to start?

"My 1982 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W123) auto doesn't like to start when the engine reaches normal running temperature. It has a K-Jetronic ignition system."
This could be down to a number of problems - mainly related to fuel pressure. So check the warm up regulator and the fuel pressure accumulator first, before going after leaky injectors.
Answered by Keith Moody

Where can I sell this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280TE?

"I have been asked to dispose of a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280TE auto estate in white, which has been stored for many years un-run (it was bought new by my now disabled 80 year old employer). I have the keys and log book but have been told this model not very desirable? So was thinking of listing it on eBay for spares or repair. I would very much value your opinion of the best way to dispose of it. "
Sadly, from the photo you sent it looks riddled with rust. The specialist in these W123s is Mark Cosovich at
Answered by Honest John

Will my Mercedes-Benz 220D benefit from Shell V-Power diesel?

"I have been trying to decide whether my C-reg Mercedes-Benz 220D, extremely well looked after by a Mercedes specialist family in West Hampstead, would benefit from using Shell V-power diesel. Cost would rocket, but would it be worth it?"
I can tell you that after using Shell V-Power Nitro+ in my Mazda my fuel economy improved by 9 per cent for an extra outlay of 5.7 per cent, so it makes sense on running costs as well as long term costs.
Answered by Honest John
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