1970s / 1980s / Gallery / German / Mercedes-Benz

Gallery: Happy 40th birthday, Mercedes-Benz w123

The Mercedes-Benz w123 was presented to the international press in Bandol, France, 40 years ago this month. For Mercedes, it’s the perfect opportunity to revisit the history of one of its most popular models. For me, it’s the chance to look back on nearly a decade of w123 ownership.

I bought my first Mercedes, a 1992 300E, in March of 2007, and I sold it to buy my first w123 in November of that year — on my 19th birthday, actually. Since then, I’ve watched the w123 transition from a cheap, comfortable, and durable used car to an increasingly valuable classic that’s sought-after by collectors all over the world. I’ve personally owned five of them — four 300Ds and a 230E — and I’ve worked on countless more. There’s not a single part on a w123 that I haven’t replaced at least once. It’s a car that’s marked me for life… literally. I have a scar on my right wrist from when a wrench slipped and my lower arm smashed into the edge of the bell housing while changing the clutch on a 240D.

I’ve spent thousands and thousands and thousands of miles behind the wheel of my w123s because I’ve always used them as daily drivers. The cabin feels like a second home to me. I’ve driven a 300D to the Alps, to the Bonneville Salt Flats, I’ve had one overheat in the Utah desert, I’ve used one to track down camouflaged BMW prototypes on back roads in southern France, I’ve hauled countless Fiat, Alfa, and Lancia engines in the trunk, and I managed to get an exceptionally expensive speeding ticket for going ten over in Switzerland. Hell, I even got engaged in my ’84 300D.

We’ll talk more about the w123 in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a gallery of w123 shots that come from Ran When Parked’s vast archives. I took the pictures below in about half a dozen countries on four continents over the past ten or so years.

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2 thoughts on “Gallery: Happy 40th birthday, Mercedes-Benz w123

  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes since my stepfather once owned one, a 300D. He’d just sold a sky blue 240D 3.0 of the previous generation, to the father of a classmate. But he didn’t sell it easily so he’d placed an ad and also asked me if I could speak to this boy whose father was a taxi driver, you never know. Eventually the boy told me his father WAS indeed looking for a car to replace his green 240D, but that he HAD already found one. So it happens, the man had seen the ad and it was my stepfather’s car that he’d bough, coincidentally. The 300D was the same colour and had a proper 300D badge and those round headlights. My stepfather had to replace them once and went for the rectangular ones from higher-range models. Not only did he find them better-ooking – and they were – but they were cheaper, too. Now I know those round period-correct headlights would be better on the car today, but at the time we were really sick of them. Shortly after he’d acquired the 300D I remember making a dirty finger mark on the interior dotted roof lining that never went away. He kept the car for quite a while, even had it repainted the same colour, but the stain never went away. He eventually changed it for a next gen black 300D Turbo, only to acquire a green one a few months later, because he didn’t like the colour. A few days ago, I just saw a metallic toffee w123 a few streets away with those wonderful alloy wheels and I thought, here’s one that hasn’t been sent to North Africa. And now, your post.

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