Mercedes W123 – All you need to know

The Mercedes W123 is commonly referred to as one of, if not the most reliable, and best Mercedes classic sedan of all time. The W123 was released back in 1976 and it was one of the safest, most luxurious, most comfortable, and most reliable cars from its era.

Nowadays the W123 enjoys iconic status as many Mercedes enthusiasts deem it as a necessary part of their “best Mercedes models of all time” collection. The fact of the matter is that the W123 is still being used across the world because it is incredibly long-lasting with engines that seem like they will work forever.

The W123 was offered with eight different engine options that include four petrol engines and four diesel engines. The W123 was also originally offered in both coupe and sedan versions, but 12 W123 models were actually made as convertibles.

Later came the estate which was equally as popular, but most people these days are interested in the sedan. The W123 received a hefty refresh back in the 1980s which made it even more impressive. All in all, the W123 is certainly one of the greatest hits from the Mercedes catalog that continues to impress to this very day.

Mercedes W123 – The powertrain

As previously mentioned, the W123 was originally offered in both petrol and diesel variants. The top of the range 250 and 280 models came with 6-cylinder engines which are now the most sought after thanks to their pulling power.

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All W123 engines are known for being able to last more than a million miles with only minor maintenance requirements such as regular oil changes. These engines were made simple, yet overengineered which meant that Mercedes engineers pondered over every engine component until they made them perfect.

Diesel engines are also known to last a long time, but they are not as bulletproof as 6-cylinder petrol versions. The W123 was also offered with either a mechanical feeling, yet incredibly durable manual gearbox or an even better automatic version.

The W123s powertrain set a standard for many Mercedes models to come because it was both refined, sophisticated, relatively powerful, and easy to work with. The W123s powertrain truly is a thing of wonder because it can last more than most powertrains ever could.


Mercedes W123 – The design language and the body

The W123 has certainly aged like fine wine because it offers a nicely proportioned body filled with all sorts of design touches such as chrome lines, relatively soft body panel edges, and cohesive panel gaps. The W123 still looks stately, especially with the Mercedes three-pointed start proudly sitting on the front.

The Mercedes W123 is known for using high-quality paint, but after so many decades of use, the W123 is now commonly associated with rust. This is rather unfortunate, but it is also a reality for all cars from that era. As such, you need to pay close attention to the wheel arches, the window seals, under the doors, and the front apron if you are in the market for a W123.

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Mildy rusted cars can be fixed fairly easily because there are many replacements parts available, but if the rust is more intense, you are better off skipping the car altogether. The good thing is that Mercedes will still supply you with original parts, but the bad news is that finding a W123 without any rust is rather difficult.

Mercedes W123 – The suspension and comfort

The Mercedes W123 offers a fairly cushioning driving experience because the suspension setup of the W123 is still more than adequate. The car flows over bumps impressively well because it weighs only 3500 pounds. For a spot of context, a modern-day equivalent, the E-Class weighs almost a thousand pounds more.

Even though the suspension setup of the W123 is still impressive, it is likely going to need a re-bushing which is a timely and fairly costly process. The W123 also came with power steering which also requires regular maintenance.

Mercedes W123 – Value and practicality

You can find a decent W123 example these days for around $11,000, but the best examples out there can go for even double that. Given the fact that the W123 is so old, many people out there are keen on restoring them which increases the value significantly. All in all, decent examples are likely going to continue appreciating.

Practicality-wise, the W123 offers enough passenger space, but taller individuals might struggle a bit in the back. The cargo area is fairly decent for cars from that era.

FAQ Section

Is the Mercedes W123 a safe car?

A 50-year-old car is nowhere near as safe as a 30-year old car, and that’s the reality. If you want superior safety, be sure to skip buying the W123 because it lacks 99% of modern-era safety equipment. However, the W123 was one of the safest cars on the market back when it came out.

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Nowadays passive safety credentials of the W123 are equally as strong, but given the fact that the W123 lacks almost all modern-day active software safety features, it is not to be recommended for family use.

Is the Mercedes W123 worth it?

Classic cars are a lot more fragile and require a lot more attention when compared to newer cars, and that’s also the case with the W123. However, the W123 is not nearly as difficult to own as some other classic cars from that era.

It is rather obvious that it makes all the sense in the world to buy the W123 if you are after a 70s classic car sedan because hardly any other sedan from that era can compare.

Is the Mercedes W123 the best car ever made?

The Mercedes W123 is often referred to as the best car of all time because it still offers amazing all-around characteristics in an incredibly well-built and reliable platform. It is a good-looking, comfortable sedan that oozes sophistication no matter where it is parked.

W123 models are known to last for millions of miles if maintained properly. They are practical, safe, and desirable so it is rather obvious why so many people deem it to be the best car of all time.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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