Mercedes-Benz W123

Mercedes -Benz 280 E ( 1977)

The 123 series is so far the most-produced model from Mercedes -Benz. He belongs to the upper middle class, now called Mercedes E-Class. Predecessors of the W 114 ( six-cylinder models ) and the W 115 ( four-cylinder and diesel models ), also "dash 8" ( / 8) called. In some countries, the model of lovers is also called piano. Both the predecessor and the successor each ran for about a year in parallel with the W 123 from the tape. The 123 series set new standards in vehicle safety and was a pioneer of the station wagon in this class as well as the turbo diesel in Mercedes -Benz passenger cars.

From the series beginning in November 1975 to January 1986 ran a total of nearly 2.7 million vehicles off the production line.

Was succeeded by the end of 1984 the 124th series

  • 2.1 saloon ( W 123 )
  • 2.2 Long version (V 123 )
  • 2.3 Coupé ( C 123 )
  • 2.4 Model T ( S 123 )
  • 2.5 Special versions ( F 123 )
  • 2.6 Alternative Drives
  • 2.7 conversions
  • 5.1 Technical data ( petrol engines)
  • 5.2 Technical data (diesel engines)
  • 7.1 General
  • 7.2 groups of pollutants
  • 7.3 H-plate

Model history

The manufacturer's decision to keep the line 8 after the introduction of the successor still around eleven months of the program, had several reasons. On the one hand was the best model is still very popular (especially in the taxi industry ) and sold well. Secondly, the newly launched W 123 was so well received among buyers that existed at the start of series production delivery time of more than one year. DM cheaper than the successor - In this time of / 8 (W 114/115 ) was, depending on the model, up to 2,400. The purchase price of the W 123 at launch was between 18.870, - DM (200) and 26 895, - DM (280 E).

The delivery times for the new W 123 even grew still to up to three years, which led to contracts for the purchase of new cars in some cases more than DM 5,000 - was paid over list price to arrive at the coveted model faster. Even years cars were often sold with mark-ups. This has not been repeated in the West German automobile history in large production vehicles today.

The great success of the series also shows the fact that the Mercedes 123 series displace next to the predecessor model, which was the VW Beetle 1974 dislodge from first place in the vehicle statistics, the only car the VW Golf in a calendar year from first place in the registration statistics of the Federal Republic could; 1980 reached the 123 series total of 202 252 approvals, the Gulf only 200 892.

The 123 series was produced in four body styles: classic notchback sedan, as long seven-passenger sedan, a coupe with a slightly shortened wheelbase and as a station wagon ( Mercedes station wagon called ). In addition, there were chassis with standard and extended wheelbase as the basis for special bodies such as ambulances or hearses.

First, there was, according to motors used, different headlights: cars with weaker engines were equipped with round headlights, also called disparagingly " bull's eye ". The elegant broadband halogen headlamps identified the top models of the 300 TD Turbodiesel, the 280/280 and the E coupe. For visual enhancements of these models also included chrome rubber lips under the taillights and chromed air vent in front of the windshield. As part of the facelift for Series 3 in September 1982 all models received the rectangular headlights, matte black ventilation grille and trim Zebrano on the dashboard.

Petrol and diesel models vary in appearance by the location of the Hirschmann radio antenna, if it was ordered from the factory ( option code 53 / x). The diesel models, the antenna was mounted on the right front fender, rear due to the ignition of the gas engine on the left. Fully automatic antennas sit on all models of space left rear.

Worth mentioning is the surcharge policy at Daimler -Benz in these years: The price ranged from about 18,000, - DM in 1976 for the base model up to nearly 80,000, - DM in the last year of construction for a fully-equipped 300 TD Turbo. With the optional Becker TeKaDe car phone, the price increased by 20,000, DM, making the T- model with these features there was about three times as expensive as the S- Class in the basic version. The purchase price could easily double already with just a few features.


The 123 series underwent many changes during its production time. Thus the series can substantially in the first series until the facelift in August 1979, divide the second series to August 1982, the third series. The first series, in turn, is again subdivided into 0.5 series and first series:

  • Series 0.5: 11/1975-08/1976
  • First series: 08/1976-07/1979
  • Second series: 08/1979-08/1982
  • Third Series: 09/1982-01/1986

Copies of the so-called series 0.5 are very rare today, it differs only in details from the first series. As in the production sometimes even stocks were consumed, there are so-called series hybrid that carry characteristics of different series.

  • Smaller steering wheel (10 mm) in a more elegant design
  • Modern toggle switch ( warning lights, windows, etc.)
  • Pneumatic headlight range control
  • Amended buckles and smaller head restraints
  • New fabric pattern for the seats
  • Rectangular headlamps and power steering as standard
  • Shaped front seatbacks for more knee room in the rear
  • Substance use in the door panels
  • Zebranoholzverkleidung in dashboard
  • New fabric patterns and seats completely covered with fabric ( no artificial leather cheeks)
  • Less wind noise through improved roof trim
  • Chrome accounts for ventilation grille


Following the late 1975 introduction of the four-door sedan in 1977 three more body styles were introduced from center: a coupe, a sedan with a long wheelbase and the first time in the brand 's history a model ( wagon) factory-built.

Saloon ( W 123 )

The sedan was produced in a total of around 2.4 million copies, nearly 90 percent of all 123er were delivered. For this variant, all types of engines were available for fleet fuel consumption regulations of the then U.S. President Jimmy Carter was exclusively in the USA, a 300 D Turbo offered.

The models 280 and 280 E were indistinguishable with wraparound chrome bumpers and halogen spotlights in the broadband optics of the simple four cylinders until 1982. Alloy wheels were available for the simple four-cylinder models until 1980.

Long version ( 123 V )

In August 1977, Mercedes- Benz presented the long version of the midsize sedan: The V 123 had a 630 millimeter longer wheelbase ( 3425 mm) than the sedan ( 2795 millimeters). The center door was simply welded together from the front part of the rear and the rear of a front door.

The length of the vehicle offered enough space for a third seat and made the car a comfortable taxi, company car or hotel limo for seven passengers. Models 250, 240 D and 300 D were offered as a long version in the Middle East and Cyprus, these cars are in the taxi business is still popular.

Coupé ( C 123 )

The presentation of the 123 coupe was held in June 1977.

While the coupes / 8 series were stylistically closely followed the sedan, the new models 230 CE, 280 C and 280 CE were 230 C, significantly more independent. The opposite of the sedan 85 mm shorter wheelbase gave the car in conjunction with the lower roof and the sharply raked windshield and rear window a squat, sporty appearance.

Vehicle safety is enhanced compared to the coupe the previous series, with the leverage acquired from the sedan crumple zones yielded the stiffened roof frame structure with high strength roof pillars and reinforced doors an even more stable security passenger cell. Engines, suspension and brakes were identical to the sedan.

When equipped, the two-door versions of the upscale versions of the four-door flagship models oriented 280 and 280 E. These included all three coupes rectangular broadband halogen headlights, chrome air intake grille in front of the windscreen ( to September 1982) and chrome strips under the taillights.

In models of the first series, the dashboard and center console in fine wood " burr walnut " were built, starting in September 1979, then the Fine-wood trim " Zebrano " used. So the facelift worked in September 1982 on the coupes from less than on the sedans. Finally, the now introduced for all models broadband halogen headlights have always belonged to the equipment of the coupe. The best way to see through from 1982 free from plating black ventilation grille front of the windscreen, the younger coupes. With the four-cylinder coupe 230 C (109 PS/80 kW) as well as two six-cylinder versions of 280 C (156 PS/115 kW) and 280 CE ( 177 PS/130 kW) there was the start of production three coupe models with petrol engine.

Already in the autumn of 1977 came the 300 CD (80 PS/59 kW) and thus a diesel coupe, which was, however, produced exclusively for the U.S. market. The Diesel campaign had among other objectives, the average fuel consumption (liquor consumption) to reduce all models of Mercedes- Benz automobiles in the U.S. market. After the limits for fleet consumption further intensification, of the 300 CD in 1981 was replaced by the 300 CD Turbodiesel. Also, this coupe with 92 kW power was not available for the European market, but triggered in the U.S., the Model 280 CE from.

The 230 C was replaced in 1980 by 230 CE, the new M 102 engine with mechanical K -Jetronic gasoline-injection made ​​100 kW.

In the summer of 1985 the series production of the C 123 Total 99 884 ended vehicles of this type originated from June 1977 to August 1985, including 15,509 with diesel engine.

T-Modell ( S 123 )

1966 and 1967 tail fin Mercedes 110 series were offered as a combined "Universal", the few (less than 3000), in Belgium at IMA manufactured in Daimler license suits were exotics. Other Mercedes Estate, funeral cars and ambulances were all conversions of coachbuilding company, as it was the W 114/115, from which it has never been a work van. With the introduction of the Model T, it was ten years later with the 123 series again official Mercedes Estate.

Results of the market research, which ran during the design of the 123 series, showed that a clear demand for a sporty, luxurious five-door was. The board gave the go-ahead in 1975 for the project. "Combination " should not mean the new Mercedes; the earlier briefly used name " Universal" was not accepted. First, was the term " station wagon" provided. Instead of " 250 K " or " U 250 " was wearing the cargo space variant of the small six-cylinder then the abbreviation " 250 St" on the tailgate. Finally, the decision was made for the abbreviation " T": the letter stands for tourism and transportation. At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main 1977, the combined models were - internally referred to as S 123 - presented to the public.

In April 1978, the series production of the T- model ( S 123 ) at the Bremen plant began. The vehicle is technically equivalent of the saloon: drive, brakes and suspension are also almost the same as the outer dimensions (length, width and wheelbase). The station wagon has rear brakes slightly stronger (42 mm instead of 38 mm brake piston). The tail with its high end edge made ​​from the new vehicle is a real space saver: Although the standard seats are occupied by the driver and passengers, the car has room for 523 liters of load capacity up to the window line. When folded down rear bench seat in the hold swallows up to the window line 879 liters. The concept offered several possible variations in the design of the interior. Thus, the rear bench could be supplied as an option with an asymmetric division. Depending on requirements, then let one or Around two-thirds of the backrest.

The Model T was the first representative of the so -called " lifestyle Estate " that deliberately deposed from the image of the ' artisans cars " at its launch. The interior was lined with high-quality materials, leather and velor upholstery was available from the beginning. Bare sheet, which would have a van can remember, has been consistently avoided. A standard hydropneumatic self-leveling on the rear axle ensures independent of the weight of the load that up to 45 percent of the empty weight is at the 1,500 -pound wagon for a comfortable ride. Upon request, an outfit with 15- inch wheels, the other springs and shock absorbers, as well as a stronger brake booster was possible. Thus, the payload of the T- model increased from standard 560 kilograms to 700 kilograms.

Other available options included the child seat in the cargo area and a chrome roof rails. The railing was standard equipment in the summer of 1978. View all T- models were equipped with full carpeting, also on the loading area. Offerings, the new body variant initially than 230 T, 250 T and 280 TE and 240 TD and 300 TD 1980 came the 200 T, 230 HP and the 300 TD Turbodiesel it. For all models alloy wheels could be had as an option, only the TE 280 and the 300 TD Turbodiesel contributed to 1982 headlights in rectangular design. On the entirely steel bumpers he had to give always.

Special versions ( F 123 )

The 123 series has often served as the basis for different bodies and conversions. For police, fire and rescue services there were modified saloons and station wagons and ambulances as bodies of companies like Binz and Meanies. For taxi operation Mercedes -Benz offered the long-wheelbase saloon ex factory. Structures hearse and conversions as a pick -up or convertible finally created by outside bodybuilding firms.

Alternative Engines

The 123 series was used during its construction as a test bed for alternative drives. Thus, Mercedes -Benz 1983, 280 TE hydrogen-powered test car as before. A test vehicle with electric drive based on the Model T was there. As a standard model a type 200 with bivalent drive was from 1982 to have: The car was fueled with LPG or petrol, the relevant Power of the driver selected via a switch. These cars had a particularly shaped flat gas tank under the floor, without the adverse constraint of the luggage compartment over usual cylindrical tanks for the first time.


Various specially tuned versions of the series offered during the construction of the 123 series at, for example, companies like AMG, Brabus or Lorinser. The measures ranged from optical changes to the body by means of paint, side spoilers, skirts and various light-alloy wheels to modifications of the suspension for lowering, tauter damping, and camber changes on both axles. The performance of production engines could be increased by appropriate measures different companies offered their own units.


The long- distance rally London - Sydney was for Daimler -Benz in 1977 after a long break with the first place with a 280 E ( W 123 ), a first major success in the re-emergence of sport commitment. (Mercedes- Benz had 1955 all Motorsportakivitäten stopped completely after the accident at the 24 - hour race at Le Mans. )

For the 1978 upcoming activities including the 280 E was used. The vehicles were similar to the series and therefore the regulations. You have been upgraded with additional high beams headlight grilles, higher body As, bucket seats, roll cage, extra gasoline pumps and a trip master (mechanical odometer ). The team entered on under the direction of Erich Waxenberger.

The first challenge was the " Vuelta a la Americana Sud", a mammoth rally of nearly 30,000 kilometers through ten countries in South America from 17 August to 24 September 1978. The first five places went to Mercedes -Benz, of which number three and five 280 E.

In 1979, from April 12 to 16, the East African Safari, which ended with a fourth place finish for the 280 e.

Technology and Innovation

The 123 was a series that is technically both its predecessor ( / 8) as well as the S-Class of 1972 ( W 116 ) -oriented. From the / 8 - series, the new model, especially the engines that initially remained largely unchanged, except for modifications to the cylinder head took over. The only real new development was the 2.5 -liter six- cylinder M 123 in type 250; for the diesel engines came in 1980 a 3 -liter turbo diesel engine based on the OM 617 to do so.

From the S-Class was included the double -wishbone front suspension. The steering axes of rotation of the wheels were aligned so that their imaginary extension coincided with the footprint of the tire on the road. This neutral setting ( zero scrub radius ) ensured that the wheels were not deflected inwards or outwards during braking. With the double -wishbone suspension in 1953 introduced the first Mercedes- Ponton subframe accounted for as a unit of engine, transmission and front suspension. The semi-trailing arm rear axle ( diagonal swing axle ) had already proven itself in the W 114/115.

Occupant safety particularly by the combination of a with respect to the previous model, significantly more rigid passenger compartment with large crumple zones at: front and rear of the vehicle have been designed to be controlled in a collision to deform and so in a crash take significantly more energy than the case previous designs was the case. , ( Patented in 1951 by Béla Barényi as " rigid passenger cell, surrounded by crumple zones front and rear " ) The central region of the body, the so-called safety cell, even more stability was obtained by the incorporation of stronger box sections in the roof frame and the six roof pillars. For better side impact protection ensured stronger beams in the doors.

From 1980 or 1982, the newly introduced Extras ABS and airbag were available to high surcharges. On special customer, Daimler- Benz AG paid in the first half of the 1980s, the 123 series with the world's first pyrotechnic passenger airbag (only in conjunction with the Driver ) from. Officially, the passenger airbag in 1985 in the series Mercedes S-Class ( 126) was offered as an extra and a short time later in the new mid-range series 124 series

The steering column of the 123 series was also improved: a corrugated tube connected the jacket and the steering gear with each other. In an accident, this corrugated pipe buckle in different directions. This reduces the danger that the steering shaft to penetrate into the passenger compartment.

The W 115 could still be supplied with steering wheel gearshift for manual and automatic transmission; the W 123 was still available with steering wheel selector lever for the automatic. Only for a small contingent of police vehicles for Iran steering wheel circuits have been provided. After that Mercedes offered to 2005 the appearance of the S-Class 221 series no more steering wheel circuits. The presentation of the E-Class 212 series in 2009, this technique has found its way back into the top Mercedes- middle class; the 6 -cylinder models are available exclusively with the automatic control lever on the steering wheel.


As engines existed, both gasoline (Models 200, 230, 230 E, 250, 280 and 280 e, the e- models possessed a fuel injection) with 94-185 hp, and diesel engines of the already known from the previous model series OM 615, OM 616 and OM 617 ( 200 D, 220 D, 240 D, 300 D, 300 D Turbo diesel) with 54-125 hp.

At the beginning of the four-cylinder engine has been taken over W M115 from the previous series 114/115; the same name to the predecessor six-cylinder model 250 was manufactured up to the end of 1984 the displacement enlarged M123, which was developed from the M180 engine of the W 114.

In June of 1980 the 200 and 230 with 94 and 109 hp a new development for the installation of: the four-cylinder petrol engine of the type M 102 with 109 or 136 hp in the 200 and 230 E replaced the now outdated and inefficient predecessor engine M115 from that on a construction from the 1950s based. Thus, the residue could be caught up on the competition, and the 230 E was the most successful gasoline engine in this series.

The M 102 was available from 1980 onwards

New development M 123

Known from / 8, S-Class and SL: The M 110

First five - cylinder diesel engine: OM 617

In the U.S., the turbo diesel was installed in the S-Class, there to improve the prescribed fleet consumption. In addition, there also the coupe of the W123 was a diesel 300 CD (initially 80 and later 88 hp) and 300 CD Turbo Diesel ( beginning with 123, later 125 hp ) as well as standard automatic transmission and particularly luxurious features (among other things was an additional cost Climate ordered ) offered.

In Germany, the engine range of the C 123 was limited initially to the types 230 C, 280 C and 280 CE, from August 1980 230 CE and 280 CE.

When the diesels accounted for as of March 1979, the 220 ​​D; the 200 D was now powered by the same 60 hp; the 240 D made ​​from then on 72 instead of 65 hp, and the 300 D gained strength from 80 to 88 hp. All diesel since then can be described as the gasoline engine with the key start and stop; the former, getting used to start-stop train the 4- cylinder diesel accounted for pre-heating and parking.

Technical data ( petrol engines)

Technical data (diesel engines)


The ADAC breakdown statistics led the 123 series to his class. The 200 D was founded in 1981 to certify as part of a reader survey of the magazine auto motor und sport an average mileage of 852,777 kilometers up to the first breakdown. Also among the taxis was the 123 series is the undisputed market leader, especially as taxi operators were given new cars with discounts at that time unusual regions 15 to 20 percent.

Good care of the owners and frequent passing to the next generation could therefore to this day still hold around 200,000 copies, which are on the roads in Germany and other countries. Especially in the Middle East and Africa are especially diesel models still in use, although often in a dilapidated state body.

Shortly after the introduction of the successor model 124 series rebelled taxi driver and drove then in protest over various initial quality defects even before Daimler- Benz headquarters in Stuttgart.

The 123 series today


Dilapidated vehicles are often gone in the past to export, so that usually maintained 123er of lovers hand are to be found today. The 123 series is now considered " classic cars ". A large number of vehicles produced and surviving paired with an excellent supply of spare parts from the manufacturer have made a large number of vehicles in hand lovers survive. So, the classic-looking body shape with chrome bumpers on the one hand, modern technology (especially the passive safety) and suitability for everyday use on the other side for a lot of friends in this series a delightful combination.

Only the consumption of rarely below 10 l of the gas engine to 100 km, is proving to be problematic. The price situation for the 123- series is directed today primarily on the condition, mileage and equipment features, the limousines are most favorable. For vehicles that are not in original condition, significant reductions have to be accepted.

Groups of pollutants

The models of the 123 series were delivered from the factory except for a small contingent without catalyst. The petrol models have been but now often retrofitted with three-way catalysts, which are available for all models. This thus get the green sticker. Systems for gasoline, which are entered on the basis of a single acceptance (eg worm - catalyst), get a tax break and the green sticker. It is immaterial whether the vehicles as low-emission Euro 1 ( key 77), Euro 2 or D 3 classified.

Also for the diesel models are now available with a particulate filter systems that meet the Euro -2 standard. For the diesel with a manual transmission, a system with Euro - 2 oxidation catalyst and particulate filter downstream with general operating permit (ABE) is available, so that the yellow badge is awarded.

Vehicles with H-plates and thus a minimum age of 30 years are exempt from the plaque control.

H flag

Listed is the number of in Germany approved with H-plate series vehicles 123 The high annual growth rates are due to the fact that currently many vehicles exceed the relevant on the issue of the H flag, the age limit of 30 years. In the ranking of the models with H-plates, the series drew 123 in the evaluation of 31 December 2012 up to second place behind the Volkswagen Beetle.

Type table with technical data and numbers

A total of 2,696,915 vehicles of the 123 series were produced. Among them made ​​the limousines with 2.37544 million copies, by far the largest part of. At least 199 517 units of the new T- model emerged, came to 99 884 coupes, sedans 13,700 with a long wheelbase and finally 8373 chassis for special bodies.

Around 1.08 million cars, or about half of all 123er, went even as new cars for export. Later, a large part of the German used vehicles expected a second career in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Famous owners

  • John Lennon was until his assassination in 1980 the owner of a T- model. His white 300 TD from 1979 was auctioned in 2006 for 124,000 U.S. $.
  • The Austrian musician Falco drove for two years a white 123er ( 280 CE, built in 1979 ). The Mercedes was auctioned after his death.
  • The Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard was, until his death in 1989, the owner of a Mercedes 230