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Remembering 40 years of the Mercedes-Benz 123


IT is quite hard to believe that it was some 40 years ago that the now iconic Mercedes-Benz W 123 model series was introduced to the world. The model enjoyed a lifespan of ten years where the German manufacturer produced around 2.7 of these models in saloon, coupé and estate body styles across nine different models.

The reality is that the original 123 series paved the way for what we now call the E-Class model, which inherited its alphabetised nomenclature in 1993 and remains even today, with the all-new E-Class.

The W 123 range is so famed because it set new benchmarks in terms of build quality and technology for vehicles during that period. For example, it made use of horizontally positioned headlamps in place of the vertically mounted lighting units. These models also made use of double-wishbone front suspension. The 123 also received a few new engines while also retaining some older units from the W 114/115 series. Among the new engines was a 2.5 litre 95kW six-cylinder M 123 engine in the 250 model while in 1978 the famous 92kW five-cylinder turbocharged OM 617 engine in the 300 D turbodiesel.

There was also an increased emphasis placed on safety with designers contemplating the use of airbags (which were added to the model as an option in 1982). The W 123 also featured crumple zones, strengthened struts in the doors as well as safety steering shaft produced by BélaBarényi.

These 123 models were also pioneers in the alternative energy game, with a 280 TE being fitted with a hydrogen drive system in the 80s along with an electric version. There was even a 1981 200 model with a bi-fuel drive system (liquefied petroleum gas and petrol).


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A new star begins its long journey: the W 123 model series, launched in January 1976.


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A classic beauty in the intermediate vehicle class: a Mercedes-Benz Saloon in the W 123 model series.

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Fine wheels for the car about town: forged alloy wheels were available as an exclusive optional extra for the W 123.


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Plentiful space: the boot of the W 123 had a capacity of around 500 litres.

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Please step in: the rear seat of W 123 offers ample legroom. Picture shows a Mercedes-Benz 280 E.

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