Back behind the wheel of a W123

Today I got back behind the wheel of my old W123 280CE.   The 15 minute and 5km drive is actually the longest I ever took in that car!  This was a car I rescued more than purchased.   The previous owner had it up on ebay with no reserve, had mis-spelt Mercedes and it was claimed to have a leaky radiator.   Despite sitting in a muddy front yard, it didn’t look too bad a car and so I became its owner for $830.

I trailered it back to my warehouse and straight away I noticed that while it looked a bit dilapidated, it seemed like a car that had been well looked after until only a few years go.    Also, there was nothing wrong with the radiator at all, the water leak was coming from the water pump.    This was actually good news as while the labour is much higher on the water pump, the parts are much cheaper!

In the end I replaced the water pump, new ignition tumbler, had a small rust hole cut out and generally got the car working again.   I then sold to my brother who is a fan of the model and had recently written off his 5-Series.  In the almost 3 years since he has put almost 20,000km on he car.   Not bad for a car that was practically dragged out of a ditch.

Today, I had to go and collect the car as the garage it was stored in needs to be painted and my brother is at sea.    On the drive home, I was reminded what a great car the W123 is, particularly the coupe.   Its comfortable, nimble and stylish.   Despite the ruined looking exterior, the drive train of this car is very strong and the 328,000km engine is smooth and powerful, even detuned via ADR27A.   This car does need a few things to make it more pleasant to drive though:

  • The steering wheel is coming apart and needs replacement
  • The handbrake handle has broken in two
  • the passengers window switch is broken
  • The throttle linkage needs checking and lubricating
  • Due for a service

W123’s are still relatively inexpensive in Australia and represent a good entry level classic Mercedes.   I should know, my first Mercedes was a W123 230E and I had that car from 1997-2002.


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