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The Mercedes W123 is a range of executive cars produced by German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz between January 1976 and January 1986.

Mercedes-Benz W123
1980 Mercedes-Benz 300 D (W123) sedan (20980100691).jpg
1980 Mercedes-Benz 300D (W123)
Overview
ManufacturerMercedes-Benz
Also calledKaensaeng 88 (North Korea)
Production1976–1986
2,696,915 built[1]
4-door: 2,375,410
Coupé: 99,884
Estate: 199,517
Limousine: 13,700
Chassies: 1,353
LWB chassies: 7,020
Assembly
DesignerBruno Sacco, Friedrich Geiger (Saloon & coupe: 1973, T-Model: 1975)
Body and chassis
ClassExecutive car (E)
Body style4-door saloon
2-door coupé (C123)
5-door estate (S123)
4-door limousine (V123)
LayoutFR layout
Powertrain
Engine
Transmission4-speed 722.1 automatic
4-speed 4G-TRONIC automatic
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Dimensions
WheelbaseSaloon: 2,795 mm (110.0 in)
Coupé: 2,710 mm (106.7 in)
Limousine/ambulance/hearse: 3,425 mm (134.8 in)
Length4,725 mm (186.0 in)[3]
4,849 mm (190.9 in) (US bumpers)
4,640 mm (183 in) (Coupé)
4,763 mm (187.5 in) (Coupé US bumpers)
5,355 mm (210.8 in) (Limousine)
WidthSaloon: 1,784 mm (70.2 in)[3]
HeightSaloon: 1,435 mm (56.5 in)[3]
Curb weightSaloon: 1,625 kg (3,582.5 lb) (turbodiesel, automatic)
Chronology
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W114
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W124

The W123 models surpassed their predecessor, the Mercedes-Benz W114 models, as the most successful Mercedes, selling 2.7 million cars before replacement by the Mercedes-Benz W124 after 1985. The additional range of smaller Mercedes-Benz W201 models were introduced in 1982.

Contents

NamingEdit

As usual, model names were related to engine sizes, type of engine and chassis type:

  • C for Coupé
  • T for Tourismus und Transport (estate/station wagon)
The long-wheelbase model was simply called "Lang" (long)
  • D for Diesel
  • Turbo for Turbodiesel
  • E for Einspritzung (fuel injection)

As for the chassis codes, W123 is the regular sedan, S123 the estate, C123 the coupé, V123 the Lang, and F123 for the bare chassis as used for ambulances and other conversions.

Model historyEdit

 
Mercedes-Benz 280CE (C123) (Euro-spec)
 
Mercedes-Benz 280CE (C123) rear (Euro-spec)
 
Mercedes-Benz 240D (W123) saloon (Euro-spec)
 
Mercedes-Benz 240D (W123) saloon rear (Euro-spec)
 
Mercedes-Benz W123 sedan (US)
 
Mercedes-Benz 280TE estate
 
Mercedes-Benz 300CD Turbodiesel coupe (US-version)
 
Mercedes Benz V123 "Lang" or Long Wheelbase (Euro-spec)

Sedan (W123)Edit

Mercedes-Benz introduced the W123 four-door versions on 29 January 1976.[4][5] While there were some technical similarities to their predecessors, the new models were larger in wheelbase and exterior dimensions. The styling was also updated, although stylistic links with the W114 / W115 were maintained. Initially, all models except 280/280E featured quad unequal-size round headlights and the latter large rectangular units. When facelifted, these units became standard across the range. All W115 engines were carried over, with the 3-litre 5-cylinder diesel model being renamed from "240D 3.0" to "300D" (as it had already been called before in North American markets). The only new engine was the 250's 2,525 cc inline-six (type M123), a single overhead camshaft design that took the place that the M130 had within the W114 series.

Coupe (C123)Edit

In the spring of 1976, a coupé version was introduced on a shorter wheelbase than the saloon (2,710 mm (106.7 in) versus 2,795 mm (110.0 in)) for the saloon). This W123C/CE was available as a 230C (later 230CE) and as a 280C/CE in most markets; in North America there were additional 300CD versions with naturally aspirated, later turbocharged 3-litre diesel engines. In North America, buyers favored diesel engines for upmarket cars, while CAFE legislation meant that Mercedes-Benz North America had to raise their corporate average fuel economy. This led to the introduction of a few diesel models only sold in the United States.[6]

It is a tribute to the car's instant popularity – and possibly to the caution built into the production schedules – that nine months after its introduction, a black market had developed in Germany for Mercedes-Benz W123s available for immediate delivery.[7] Customers willing to order new cars from their local authorized dealer for the recommended list price faced waiting times in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, models that were barely used and were available almost immediately commanded a premium over the new price of around DM 5,000.[7]

Limousine (V123)Edit

From August 1976, long-wheelbase versions (3,425 mm (134.8 in)) were produced. These were available as 7/8 seater saloons with works bodies or as a chassis with complete front body clip, the latter serving as the base for ambulance and hearse bodies by external suppliers like Binz or Miesen. These "Lang" versions could be ordered as 240D, 300D and 250 models (a few long wheelbase chassies were also delivered with the 280E drive train).

Estate (S123)Edit

At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, 1977 the W123T estate was introduced; the T in the model designation stood for "Touring and Transport". All engines derivative except the 2-liter version of M115 were available in the range. T production began in March, 1978 in Mercedes' Bremen factory. It was the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz estate, previous estates had been custom-built by external coachbuilders, such as Binz.

UpdatesEdit

In the autumn 1978, the power output was increased in 240D from 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) to 72 PS (53 kW; 71 hp) and the in 280E from 177PS to 185 PS. In early 1979, the power also rose from 55 PS (40 kW; 54 hp) to 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) in the 200D, and from 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) to 88 PS (65 kW; 87 hp) in the 300D; at the same time, the 220D went out of production.

The first Mercedes turbo diesel production W123 appeared in September, 1981. This was the 300 TD Turbodiesel, available with automatic transmission only. In most markets, the turbocharged 5-cylinder 3-litre diesel engine (Type OM617.95) was offered only in the T body style, while in North America it was also available in saloon and coupé guises.

June 1980 saw the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol engines (type M102) that replaced the old M115. The 2-liter version was now also offered in the station wagon (200T), and a fuel-injected 2.3-litre version of this engine (in 230E/TE/CE) replaced the old carbureted 230. Both engines were more powerful than their predecessors.

In 1980/81, the carbureted 280 versions went out of production; the fuel-injected 280E continued to be offered.

In September 1982, all models received a mild facelift. The rectangular headlights, previously fitted only to the 280/280E and coupés, were standardized across the board, as was power steering. Since February 1982, an optional five-speed manual transmission was available in all models (except the automatic-only 300 turbodiesel).

W123 production ended in January, 1986 with 63 final T-models rolling out. Most popular single models were the 240D (455,000 built), the 230E (442,000 built), and the 200D (378,000 built).

Knockoffs and copiesEdit

The W123 was officially produced by FAW in China from 1987 until 1988, as a 200 sedan or as a long wheelbase 230E. Only 828 cars were built in their Changchung plant.[2] Another Chinese company called Bamin Automobile made W123 lookalikes using other parts. Bamin was an army-owned company located in Minhou. Their W123 copy was built on the chassis of the Bamin BM212A/213A, a copy of the Beijing BJ212 and came in a few different bodystyles. There was a four-door pickup called the BM2022A (or the better equipped BM1020KHA) and a wagon derived from it, as well as the BM1020KH/BM6480 (proper station wagons).[8] A more faithful replica was made in North Korea, almost entirely by hand, called the Kaensaeng 88.

Equipment and featuresEdit

The W123 introduced innovations including ABS (optional from August 1980), a retractable steering column and an airbag for the driver (optional from 1982). Power (vacuum servo) assisted disc brakes were standard on all W123s. Available options included MB-Tex (Mercedes-Benz Texturized Punctured Vinyl) upholstery or velour or leather upholstery, interior wood trim, passenger side exterior mirror (standard on T models), 5-speed manual transmission (European market only), 4-speed automatic transmission (standard in turbodiesel models), power windows with rear-seat switch cut-outs, vacuum powered central locking, rear-facing extra seats (station wagon only), Standheizung (prestart timer-controlled passenger compartment heating, even if engine is off), self-locking differential, sun roof, air conditioning, climate control, "Alpine" horn (selectable quieter horn), headlamp wipers (European market only), Tempomat (cruise control), power steering (standard after 1982/08), seat heating, catalytic converter (available from 1984 for California only, from fall (autumn) 1984 also in Germany for the 230E of which one thousand were built). The most rare option is probably a column gear lever that could be ordered for the automatic transmission at no extra cost.

Technical data (except North America and Japan)Edit

Chassis Years Model Engine Power Torque
W123.020 1976–1981 200 2.0 L M115 I4 94 PS (69 kW; 93 hp) at 4,800 158 N⋅m (117 lb⋅ft) at 3,000
W123.220 1979–1985 200 2.0 L M102 I4 109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 5,200 170 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft) at 3,000
W123.280 1980–1985 200T
W123.120 1976–1979 200D 2.0 L OM615 I4 diesel 55 PS (40 kW; 54 hp) at 4,200 113 N⋅m (83 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.120 1979–1985 200D 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) at 4,400 113 N⋅m (83 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.126 1976–1979 220D 2.2 L OM615 I4 diesel 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) at 4,200 125 N⋅m (92 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.023 1976–1981 230 2.3 L M115 I4 109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 4,800 185 N⋅m (136 lb⋅ft) at 3,000
W123.223 1979–1985 230E 2.3 L M102 I4 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) at 5,100 201 N⋅m (148 lb⋅ft) at 3,500
W123.043 1977–1980 230C 2.3 L M115 I4 109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 4,800 185 N⋅m (136 lb⋅ft) at 3,000
W123.243 1980–1985 230CE 2.3 L M102 I4 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) at 5,100 201 N⋅m (148 lb⋅ft) at 3,500
W123.083 1978–1980 230T 2.3 L M115 I4 109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 4,800 185 N⋅m (136 lb⋅ft) at 3,000
W123.283 1980–1985 230TE 2.3 L M102 I4 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) at 5,100 201 N⋅m (148 lb⋅ft) at 3,500
W123.123 1976–1985 240D 2.4 L OM616 I4 diesel 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) at 4,200
from 02/79: 72 PS (53 kW; 71 hp) at 4,400
137 N⋅m (101 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.125 1977–1985 240D Lang
W123.183 1978–1986 240TD
W123.026 1976–1985 250 2.5 L M123 I6 129 PS (95 kW; 127 hp) at 5,500
from 09/79: 140 PS (100 kW; 140 hp) at 5,500
192 N⋅m (142 lb⋅ft) at 3,500
from 09/79: 196 N⋅m (145 lb⋅ft) at 3,500
W123.028 1977–1985 250 Lang
W123.086 1978–1985 250T
W123.030 1976–1981 280 2.8 L M110 I6 156 PS (115 kW; 154 hp) at 5,500 222 N⋅m (164 lb⋅ft) at 4,000
W123.033 1976–1985 280E 177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp) at 6,000
from 1978: 185 PS (136 kW; 182 hp) at 5,800
229 N⋅m (169 lb⋅ft) at 4,500
from 09/79: 235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 4,500
W123.050 1977–1980 280C 156 PS (115 kW; 154 hp) at 5,500 222 N⋅m (164 lb⋅ft) at 4,000
W123.053 1977–1985 280CE 177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp) at 6,000
from 1978: 185 PS (136 kW; 182 hp) at 5,800
229 N⋅m (169 lb⋅ft) at 4,500
from 09/79: 235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 4,500
W123.093 1978–1985 280TE
W123.130 1976–1985 300D 3.0 L OM617 I5 diesel 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) at 4,000
from 09/79: 88 PS (65 kW; 87 hp) at 4,400
169 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.132 1977–1985 300D Lang
W123.133 1981–1985 300D Turbo 3.0 L OM617 A I5 turbodiesel 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) at 4,350 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.150 1977–1981 300CD 3.0 L OM617 I5 diesel 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) at 4,000
from 09/79: 88 PS (65 kW; 87 hp) at 4,400
169 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.153 1981–1985 300CD Turbo 3.0 L OM617 A I5 turbodiesel 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) at 4,350 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.190 1978–1985 300TD 3.0 L OM617 I5 diesel 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) at 4,000
from 09/79: 88 PS (65 kW; 87 hp) at 4,400
169 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft) at 2,400
W123.193 1980–1985 300TD Turbo 3.0 L OM617 A I5 turbodiesel 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) at 4,350 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 2,400

North America and JapanEdit

In these markets the following models were offered:[9]

Model Years Engine Power Torque
230 MY 1977–1978 M115 93.0 hp (69 kW) at 4,800 125 lb⋅ft (169 N⋅m) at 2,500 (USA-Canada only )
240D MY 1977–1983 OM616.912 62 hp (46 kW) at 4,000
from MY 1981 67 hp (50 kW) at 4,000
97 lb⋅ft (132 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada only)
280E MY 1977–1981 M110 142 hp (106 kW) at 5,750
from MY 1980: 140 hp (104 kW) at 5,500
149 lb⋅ft (202 N⋅m) at 4,600
from MY 1980: 145 lb⋅ft (197 N⋅m) at 4,600 (USA-Canada only)
280CE MY 1978–1981 M110 142 hp (106 kW) at 5,750
from MY 1980: 140 hp (104 kW) at 5,500
149 lb⋅ft (202 N⋅m) at 4,600
from MY 1980: 145 lb⋅ft (197 N⋅m) at 4,600 (USA-Canada only)
300D MY 1977–1981 OM617.912 77 hp (57 kW) at 4,00
from MY 1981: 83 hp (62 kW) at 4,200
115 lb⋅ft (156 N⋅m) at 2,400
from MY 1981: 120 lb⋅ft (163 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada)
300CD MY 1978–1981 OM617.912 77 hp (57 kW) at 4,000
from MY 1981: 83 hp (62 kW) at 4,200
115 lb⋅ft (156 N⋅m) at 2,400
from MY 1981: 120 lb⋅ft (163 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada only)
300TD
MY 1979–1980 OM617.912 77 hp (57 kW) at 4,000 115 lb⋅ft (156 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada only)
300D Turbo
MY 1981–1985 OM617.952 125 hp (93 kW) at 4,350 181 lb⋅ft (245 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada, Japan only)
300CD Turbo
MY 1981–1985 OM617.952 125 hp (93 kW) at 4,350 181 lb⋅ft (245 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada only)
300TD Turbo
MY 1981–1985 OM617.952 125 hp (93 kW) at 4,350 181 lb⋅ft (245 N⋅m) at 2,400 (USA-Canada only)

The naturally aspirated 300TD wagon only had a brief career in North America, being replaced by a turbocharged model for the 1981 model year. Most American buyers had found the heavy wagon much too slow with the less powerful engine.[10] The turbodiesel engine also appeared in the sedan and coupé models in America, but only a few months behind the wagon. Manual transmissions were generally only available to North American buyers in the four-cylinder models, and a five-speed was never available. From 1982 until the W123's replacement in late 1985, only diesels were sold in North America. The federalized W123s differ from the European W123s due to United States Department of Transportation requirements.

Notable exterior differences included:

  • Larger bumpers
  • Round, sealed-beam headlights/fog lamps. Early cars were delivered with clear fog lamps through to model year 1979, later units with yellow
  • Location of ID-tag on A-pillar
  • Emission control devices

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, vol.3. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 99. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.
  2. ^ a b de Feijter, Tycho (8 May 2010). "FAW based Mercedes 200 in China". Car News China. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Hutton, Ray, ed. (16 September 1978). "Autotest: Mercedes-Benz 200". Autocar. 149 (4271): 26–31.
  4. ^ All dates in this paragraph according to: Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, vol. 3. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 96–111. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.
  5. ^ Perlas, Giancarlo (28 January 2016). "Mercedes-Benz W123 Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary". BenzInsider. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Four Sports Coupes", Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1979, Greenwich, CT: CBS Publications, pp. 161–162, January – February 1979
  7. ^ a b Richarz, Hans-Robert (1 September 1976). "Sterntaler: Mercedes-Wagen zu Schwarzmarktpreisen" [Star dollars: Mercedes cars at black market prices]. Auto, Motor und Sport (in German) (18): 8–9.
  8. ^ de Feijter, Tycho (12 October 2012). "China Car History: the Benz-like vehicles of Bamin Automobile". Car News China. Archived from the original on 11 June 2019.
  9. ^ Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946–2002. Krause Publications, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 539-43.
  10. ^ Hogg, Tony (ed.). "1981 Buyer's Guide". Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1981 (January-February 1981): 107.

BibliographyEdit

  • Buckley, Martin; Cosovich, Mark (2014). Mercedes-Benz W123: the Finest Saloon Car of the 20th Century?. Independent Publishing Network. ISBN 9781782803720.

External linksEdit