Mercedes-Benz W123

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From 22 to 28 January 1976 Mercedes-Benz showed its long-awaited new offshoot, the Mercedes-Benz W123. Under the southern French sun, the new Stuttgarter trump card in the upper middle class was shown to the trade press on the Paul Ricard circuit. The introduction marked the start of a successful episode in the history of Mercedes-Benz 40 years ago. The media are very enthusiastic and this favorable call is not without consequences. 

The demand from the market is already faster than the supply. Waiting lists are created in no time at all and the first newly used examples of the Mercedes-Benz W123 exceed the price of new ones. Aesthetics and progressive innovations were important pillars within the design. The sublime standard of finishing, the functionality and the extensive range of engines for that time (from 200 D to 280E) also contributed significantly to the popularity of the Mercedes-Benz W123.

Safety one of the main starting points

In 1968 the predecessor of the W123 - the Strich 8 - comes onto the market. While the then newcomer was well received, those responsible are already working on the successor, which must set standards especially in the field of safety. Among other things, it results in well thought-out crumple zones. In addition, the safety steering axle, already patented in 1963, is integrated into the model and reinforced door beams find their way into the balanced design. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz W123 is also airbag-proof. Since 1982, this safety feature finds its place within the extensive options list of the W123.

The best-selling Benz in the brand's history is the W123. A harmonious car in every way. Image: Daimler AG
The best-selling Benz in the brand's history is the W123. A harmonious car in every way. Image: Daimler AG

High-quality technology

The engineers also make themselves known in the technical field. Technical solutions included in the W123 of the S-Class (W116) include double-wishbone front suspension without “roll mode”. And while many of the engines for the start of the series are taken over from the Strich Acht, the arrival of the W123 also prompted the manufacturer to introduce a new 250-liter six-cylinder engine for the 2,5 (M 123 Type 250, 95 kW / 129 hp). From 1978 Mercedes-Benz thoroughly revised the engine range for its upper middle class. For example, the five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine OM 1981 “A” (617 D turbo diesel (300 kW / 92 hp) made its debut in 125. The M1979 four-cylinder engine, introduced in 102, also played an important role in the petrol models “200” and “230”, which were previously equipped with the M115 blocks from the Strich 8 models.

Lifestylecombi makes its debut in 1977

The station version of the W123 debuts in 1977. At its premiere in January 1976, the 123 series was initially offered as a sedan only. The following year, Mercedes-Benz introduced the Coupé (C 123) and the "T-Modell" - the station wagon (S 123). Stuttgart does not only focus on transport. Leisure and a sporty lifestyle are also ingredients that are used for positioning this station Benz. Mercedes-Benz also builds the extended Limousine version: the V123.

The T-model of the 123 series was a hit for Mercedes-Benz. He combined lifestyle and ease of use and contributed to the positive image of the station. Image: Daimler AG

The best-selling and most-produced Benz

The Mercedes-Benz W123 has been revised several times during its career, but basically its characteristics remain highly recognizable. The 123 series saloon will be built until the end of 1985. The T model will remain in production until January 1986. A total of nearly 1975 million W1986 versions were produced from 2,7-123. The sedan versions with standard wheelbase account for the lion's share of W2.375.440 production with a number of 123 units. The T model is built in 199.517 units, while 99.884 Coupe versions are being built. 13.700 long-wheelbase sedans are manufactured and Mercedes-Benz builds a chassis for special external purposes 8373 times. To this day, the 123 series is the best-selling Mercedes-Benz in history, which was also the best-selling car in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1980. Incidentally, the W123 was the most commonly built in 1982.

Diesel sedans are top 3

The top 3 of best-selling versions is fully occupied by diesel sedans. The 240 D, the 200 D and the 300 D lead the ranking of the best-selling W123 models. The best-selling petrol version was the 230 E with the M102 engine, also a sedan. But no matter which engine the Mercedes Benz W123 series was equipped with, it developed into the respectable classic which he is today. For many, he is still as fascinating as at the premiere which 40 took place years ago under the southern French sun.


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  1. They were dark blue and they had three. “They” are the brothers and father Baks and “three” are the W123 T's. The Baks family had a number of neighborhood supermarkets from the late 70s to the 80s.
    In the summer of 1981 I worked for them in Moerwijk in The Hague and I'm not sure whether they still had the Rekord diesels at the time (FJ-54-NR and FJ-55-NR I can still remember) or whether they already had the Benzen had.
    Baks senior called the purchase of the Mercedes “deposit money”, which is still clear to me when local residents asked him (“so Baks, Mercedes?) About the purchase of the beautiful cars.

  2. With power steering, the 200D was a pleasantly driving, but slow car at our office. Without that confirmation it was a dragon in the city. However, when some were armored, it was almost impossible to accelerate, you had to keep the car up to speed to keep up with the traffic. But otherwise top cars, you just got out fresh after a day of steering, the handbrake pedal I encounter 40 years later in my Hyundai.

  3. Two years ago purchased a 300D from 12/1982 with 260.000 km,
    A delightful car to drive, a true pleasure, is not inferior to
    many modern cars issue comfort !!

  4. I have a w1996 123e champagne metallic imported from Germany from 230, now around 210000 km, motor-technical perfect, is starting to rust around the bottom, but never put it away, will be nicely refurbished in due course

  5. my father came unscathed from a serious accident with this car, unfortunately not oncoming traffic.
    learning to drive his second car ...
    indestructible car ...

  6. The diesels also drove / drive openly to Poland. A cart of Aldi salad oil or frying oil was / will be taken as part of the luggage. Not for frying chips. Was an environmentally friendly alternative to diesel. Oh yes also cheaper😜. Oh yes your engine also seems to get a lot cleaner.

  7. Really drove tons with this Mercedes, as 200D and 240D
    Where the 240 is at the top
    I also liked the 300D
    But less KM driven than the 240. Collapsed seats were often a problem, but were professionally repaired and could take another 1.1 / 2ton.
    The MB tex coating was scorching hot in summer and stone cold in Swinters
    My preference was the fabric upholstery, in beautiful matching colors. Always drivable, always slow, but certainly and quite economical.
    The big time clock was a nice distraction for a stopwatch
    You saw the needle move faster than the speed

  8. Durable, fine cars. So durable that they effortlessly survive environmental aging 😂. But also a pleasure to drive, spacious, light, nice and familiar steering in calming rides. After that it has slowly but surely deteriorated in terms of class with Das Haus, almost imperceptibly. See the A-Class and B-Class models as sad examples of this.

  9. Ridden in a beautiful 80 in the mid-240s in beautiful dark Mercedes red.
    Wonderful car with a lot of traction, great caravan tractor.
    Still a beautiful car to see.

  10. There are not many cars that can stand in its shadow unless it has to be its successor the W124 and the baby-benz W201. Crushing quality. For me it was my daily transport for eight years, the slow but economical 200D, until I got a lease car and the Mercedes went with someone who exported it to Morocco to continue as a taxi. That was quite possible, because after almost twenty years and 864.000 kilometers it drove, braked, steered, walked and shifted gears just fine. Only the sagging driver's seat (with a wheelbarrow inner tube you could solve that nicely) and the first rust bumps showed that he had already covered the wheels for over 21 revolutions around the Earth.

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