A look back at the Mercedes-Benz W123 (1975 – 1985)
The iconic Mercedes-Benz W123 generation of saloons was a big breakthrough for its manufacturer, firmly establishing it into a whole new realm of previously untapped markets. Its success was mainly down to its unrivalled build quality, conservative style, plus a wide range of engines. The W123 was also the first time a Mercedes-Benz was available in an estate form – T-models were brought out in 1980, with a range that shared similarities with the saloons.
At the time, the W123 was a previously unreached high-standard for Mercedes. That said, you certainly had to pay for the privilege. If you lived in Britain in the late 1970s, getting your hands on one would set you back a small fortune. The base model 200 and 200D editions were not good performers (and never would be despite modifications); the 230E however was a much better all-rounder. The twin-cam 280E was an all-purpose sporting saloon that equalled the cream of the opposition, without sacrificing any of the Mercedes-Benz core values.
The pillarless Coupe CE editions were popular, with almost 100,000 built and sold over an eight-year production run. The CE was to all intents and purposes a W123 saloon with 10cm taken from the wheelbase, while keeping the same durable interior. A handsome car and, in more potent, higher powered formats, almost as rewarding to drive as it was to own.
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