Market Finds: Is This Low Mileage Mercedes-Benz W123 The Last Normal Car You’ll Need?

Is This Low Mileage Mercedes-Benz W123 The Last Normal Car You’ll Need?

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
March 23, 2016
12 comments

Photography courtesy of Cool & Vintage

We all love a good sports car, and it’s easy to understand why. The style, the speed, the sounds, the feelings that can transform your daily commute into an exhilarating drive rather than a numb moment of travel between A and B. Sports cars are awesome. They’re the centerpieces for most gearheads: the bread and butter, the steak wrapped in bacon, and potato (smothered in cheese)…er…what was I saying?

Ah, that’s right: sports cars tingle the senses. But as much as I appreciate them, my practicality shines through: I love sedans… and trucks… and even (some) vans! But why?

As history has proven, the W123 Mercedes-Benz may very well be a contender for one of the best-made automobiles ever. It’s not a sports sedan, or a lux-o-barge, or an economy family hauler: it’s just a great, honest car, overall. For example, take this 1982 Mercedes Benz 300D with only ~33k original kilometers.

No, it’s not the fastest, most luxurious, or even the best-looking sedan ever made, but I do think it’s Mercedes’ best saloon—and that might make it the world’s best saloon. W123 production began in 1976 and by the end of its run in 1985, it had surpassed its W114 predecessor as the best-selling Mercedes-Benz of all time—around 2.7 million were made!

Even more impressive than the monumental production tally is the W123’s well-established build quality. When people refer to a car as being, “Built like a tank,” they’re referencing the W123 even if they don’t know it. Considering the era in which it was released, it’s an astonishing vehicle in every sense of the word, even by modern standards if you’re able to find one in good shape.

If you’ve never driven or ridden in one, please do the first opportunity you get—they really are that good. Even a tired, worn out example isn’t so bad, which makes this crisp low-mileage time capsule a really tempting offer.

W123 have been used for racing, rallies, limousines, taxis, and more—they’re sort of the one-glove fits all. Though not known for speed (they are quite slow), these Mercs feature cast-iron engine blocks that have proven to be one of the most robust power plants ever to grace a German automobile. A quick skim through the classifieds will reveal a number of W123 with several hundred thousand miles of punishment—some have pushed past the million-mile mark.

This model is a 300D, as in it has, count it: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3—a five-cylinder diesel engine and a four-speed manual gearbox—did I mention it has blue leather interior? Jackpot. With less than 34,000 kilometers since new, this one-owner cared for cruiser presents exceptionally clean inside and out. The listing notes the car is all-original and in complete unrestored condition; even the undercarriage and engine compartment look squared away.

With it’s minimalistic styling, classic interior design, plush suspension, and surprisingly capable sub 3,600-lb platform, this could very well be the last car you’ll ever need. The low kilometers, preserved condition, and one owner history come at a price, but could you really get more car for the money? It’s classic in white, it’s got a stick, it’s got an odd-cylinder count diesel, and it’s stuffed with rich blue leather interior—what else do you need?

History
– One owner since new

Specifications
~87 horsepower 3.0-liter five-cylinder, four-speed manual transmission, independent suspension, and power assisted disc brakes. Wheelbase: 110 inches.

Valuation
Dealer: Cool & Vintage
Asking Price: £16,500 ($23,500 Usd.)

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JoshJavier BerrocalKHAIRULRich SackettSean O'halloran Recent comment authors
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Javier Berrocal
Javier Berrocal

So this car and the built e38 are my dream garage…

KHAIRUL
KHAIRUL

I owned a 1985 W123 for about a year. Tripmeter 102k at the time i got this car. The 1st owner is a 72 year old gentleman and i am now 47. Enjoying this car every single day.

Rich Sackett
Rich Sackett

I had a ’81 300D for about a month. Nice car but just couldn’t deal with its total lack of power. I thought it was broken. I jerked the motor out and sold it to guy to put in a boat. Scrapped the car. According to wikipedia: 80bhp! in a car weighing the better part of 4,000 lbs! Honestly, it was a chore to drive. Nice ride, though.

Josh
Josh

Way to trash a perfectly good car. Maybe you should have test driven it beforehand so you knew what you were getting into, but you don’t seem like the thinking type.

Sean O'halloran
Sean O'halloran

I’ve had an ’81 280CE for a few years now and it’s a great car. As a long time Benz owner I’ve always appreciated the “analog” era of ’80s models and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed owning the fairly rough example that I have; it truly is a tank and on the highway it gleefully displays it’s curb weight as it barrels down the super slab at 80 or 90 miles an hour.

This was a great article and an awesome example of a near flawless W123.

Hillary Shackley
Hillary Shackley

Buying my 5th W123 tomorrow- This one is a 300CD two owner with low mileage… I keep thinking I found my last W123 only to find a nicer one around the corner. Great car ( I won’t let anyone touch any of the cars I have owned), find it extremely well made and easy to work on, maybe the last starter made me mumble some expletives a bit… I just can’t imagine driving anything else.

Thanks for the great article!

Gustavo Brito
Gustavo Brito

Great job Cool and Vintage

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira

Love these things, but that’s a whole lot of money for a molasses low w123

Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves

I had a 1981 300TD (T stands for touring) – for about 4 years – great car – forgot how many miles it had!

I still look at them as something unique everytime I see one!

moosesport
moosesport

I had a 1983 300D turbodiesel. I drove it 333000 miles before I sold it to it’s new owner. While I liked my 1987 190D 2 liter 5 sp better, (387000 miles) I cannot fault the W123. It was a great car. The W201 did get much better fuel economy.

Sam Zam
Sam Zam

I agree Jeremy.. A wagon would really be IT!

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini

If it were a wagon, I would be calling on it right now!