The W123 Mercedes-Benz 240D is a car that does everything for me. I rotate my 1983 4-speed manual car as one of my daily drivers and despite its many flaws, I appreciate how satisfying it is. When I am driving home from work at night alone on the highway, it is true bliss. Everything is in the right spot, nothing is rattling or shaking, everything fits perfectly, it returns just over 30 mpg and all of that makes you realize why it is considered one of the best cars ever produced. It isn’t all gravy though, because on days when I’m heading to work in traffic and it’s 86 degrees outside, I’m driving it like a maniac just to not get ran over by a tractor tailor because I don’t have enough power to merge on the highway. Then when I do arrive at work, all my coworkers ask me why I look like I just wrestled a bear. Nope, just driving my 240D. I suppose it is not the cars fault because you do need to be a certain kind of crazy to still be daily driving one of these. The newest 240D is now 35 years-old and is well into classic territory and should be treated as such. But no, not me, I’ll suffer for the sake of good ergonomics and forgoing something called a ”car payment.”
This of course leads me to today’s car, a 1982 240D up for bid in Annapolis, Maryland. This car is painted in the rare Mango Green and checks with a just under 62,000 miles which is pretty unheard of when it comes to 240Ds. As you might have guessed, it is extremely clean and shows very little wear at all. What kind of price might it bring? I’m curious to find out.
I feature famous owner Mercedes-Benz from time to time with the scale of their ”famousness” ranging from Rowan Atkinson, Clark Gable, Bono and even Elvis. Personally, I just don’t believe that these names do a lot, or anything, for the values of the cars outside of it being just a cool side note. Maybe with some of the Elvis cars it might move the needle at little, but his star is fading as the years go by and the people who truly remember him are also fading away. Today, I have a car that you could argue is on the A-list when it comes to celebrity cars. This is John Lennon’s 1979 300TD. You might remember him as the co-founder of the The Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. His fame was tremendous until the day of his murder on December 8, 1980 and judging by how much media attention he and his family still gets just by throwing his name into Google, is still quite relevant. You would guess that maybe this car, a car that he owned until his death, is probably going to bring big money, right?
Last week I checked out a cherry 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300CD that was had a few small issues, but I felt was worth the money. Sadly, it looks like the seller cut the auction short so we didn’t find out what the final selling price was. Today, I ran across another 300CD, but this one is a few years older and a little different. This 1979 up for sale in California uses the non-turbo OM617, which is a fine enough engine in itself, doesn’t have any rust and by some kind of miracle, has a functioning air condition. It also has a nice touch with the European headlights and the best part? It has quite the attractive price tag.
One of the more interesting things about the legendary Mercedes-Benz W123 chassis is the difference between the production numbers for the sedan, estate and coupe bodies. As you might have guessed, the sedan was the most plentiful at just over 75,000 units made from 1981-1985 as the 300D with the OM617 turbo diesel engine. Next up was the 300TD station wagon with a little over 28,000 units. Bringing up the rear is the 300CD with just 7,502 cars. The easy math here says that from every 10 300Ds, there is only one 300CD. That explains why you can go on your local Craigslist and find a handful of 300Ds, but the coupes? No where to be found. As a result, the demand and values for coupes have always been much higher than the sedan not only because of the rarity, but because they are cool cars and a pillar-less coupe is always classic. Today, I managed to find a really nice 1985 300CD up for sale in Florida and luckily, this one is a wonderful example.
Pre-merger Mercedes-Benz AMG cars always seem to have a bit of mystery to them. Lots of times they pop up and don’t have any kind of documentation other than what you can actually see on the car and an overzealous seller shouting how it is an AMG car. The majority of the time the car just had some à la carte body parts and maybe some wheels, but was missing the big things like the AMG-modified engine and the actual AMG workshop building the car. Today’s car has none of that guessing. This is a car so unique and important to AMG that it had magazine features written about it and was even used in the brochures for AMG at the time. This is the 1983 500CE AMG.
This W123 Coupe started life as a standard 280CE before it was sent to AMG to be totally transformer into the best they had to offer in 1983. Everything was modified from the engine, the suspension, the bodywork and even the entire interior was changed to make this car a true one-of-one example. A M117 5.0 liter V8 was borrowed from the 500SEC and dropped into this car but not before being tweaked by AMG. The power number was raised from 230 horsepower to a little over 280 horsepower that propelled this car to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. At the time, that was enough to hang with almost every exotic on the market. Inside, nearly everything was changed including installing a crazy Pioneer stereo system and wrapping everything that was normally plastic or vinyl with leather. There is so much more to highlight with this car, but the photos can do all the talking.
I’ve been using my 1983 Mercedes-Benz 240D with a 4-speed manual as my primary driver for over year now and really enjoy almost every aspect of it except for one big thing: It is ungodly slow. The North American spec 240Ds were blessed with a conservative 67 horsepower and 97 lb⋅ft of torque when new and after 35 years I’m going to guess it lost a few precious ponies. This results in me using the accelerator pedal as an on-off switch the majority of the time. Don’t get me wrong, around town the car is totally fine. On the highway? I’m traffic’s worst nightmare. If I am at the front of the line at a stoplight and the speed limit on the road is 55 mph, I might as well be hauling a car full of puppies to the pound because that is how people look at me. It takes somewhere in the 15-20 second range to accelerate to 60 mph depending on the grade of the road and Peggy in her minivan on her way to soccer practice has no patience for me. Other than that, everyone loves the car. But what if the 240D was even slower? Say hello to the 240TD.
This German-import 1985 240TD up for bid in Arizona is equipped with everything my 240D has, including the same 4-speed manual gearbox, but with the extra weight of the wagon. You can see where I am going with this. Thankfully, this W123 estate is actually nice enough where you can pick and choose your 0-60 mph battles and not feel bad if you hold someone up for an extra second. Although at the current price, is it worth it?
It is amazing what a color can do to a car. You could have identical cars, one with a really desirable color and another with a not-so popular color, and have their values be dramatically different. Today’s car, a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD for sale in California, is a perfect example of that. Regardless of color, the W123 300TD is no slouch in terms of desirability and people willing to do anything to keep them on the road. But paint it in a color that everyone loves and suddenly you’ll be a little shocked to see what kind of money these can bring on the open market. This 1983 painted in Labrador Blue isn’t a perfect example by any means but that is the appeal of an example like this. You can enjoy it without obsessing over every single thing that might happen to it. But seeing as this is a 300TD and it is in Labrador Blue, how high could the price be?
I give a lot of love to the Mecedes-Benz W123 and rightfully so, some think it is the best car ever produced. A few even claim that in these Benz models will be the only survivors of in a post-apocalyptic world. I’m not one to argue as I own a 1983 240D and drive it on a regular basis. It is far from perfect and has it flaws, but when I’m driving down the road in it I can’t help but think how satisfied I am in it. When I really think about it, my most my complaints are from the powerplant in the 240D. Sure, it is as dead simple and reliable as the day is long. But on the other hand it is loud, not that smooth, is dangerously under powered at times and leaves a film of diesel residue from the exhaust on the interior when I drive with the windows down. (I’m sure that isn’t great for my lungs either.) The 5-cylinder OM617 solves some of the problems, but it is still unrefined at times. So what are the other options then? How about a silky smooth inline-6? Luckily, Mercedes-Benz offered that option in the W123 and while not nearly as common as the diesel cars, they are still out there.
This 1981 280E for sale in Maryland offers up that inline-6 option. It has everything great about the W123 but also a 2.8 liter that makes a very respectable 185 horsepower! This is a far cry from the 84 horsepower in the 240D and the 125 horsepower in the 300D. The M110 engine uses a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system that is reliable, not overly complicated and though it won’t return diesel-level gas mileage, it won’t break your wallet either.
It has been a little while since I’ve featured a W123 so today is as good a day as ever. Today we have a 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300D up for sale in Seattle, Washington. It sports the great color combo of Pastel Blue (with the matching hubcaps) and blue MB-Tex interior. I’m partial to all things W123 (I own one) and I love to see them when they’ve been cared for extensively. Luckily for everyone, this nice W123 looks to be so.
Now that I’ve looked at some cool and not so cool Mercedes from across the pond, I’m back to our regular left-hand drive cars. Fear not for our international readers as I’m not back to the United States just yet. This 1985 300CD from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada gives us the best of what the W123 coupe has to offer. Much like the other prime W123s for sale, this one isn’t coming cheap, but I’d argue that it’s not exactly the worst deal in the world for what you get.
Engine: 3.0 liter 5-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 91,034 km (56,565 mi)
Price: $14,500 CDN ($11,319 USD)
1985 Mercedes 300CD Turbo Diesel – 91000 KM All Original – Rare Color Combination Dark Grey on Mahogany Leather – Never winter driven – Garage kept – Never rust – Impeccable Kept – Records kept since new – Everything works as new – Nicest one I’ve ever seen – $14,500. Obo
Taking a broad look at this car, this one looks like a real winner. Extremely clean without any issues I can see on the outside, the interior looks even better. The Sienna MB-Tex is relatively rare for any W123 let alone a coupe and I’m glad to see it’s held up great for 56,000 miles. Under the hood, the OM617 looks prime with lots of cadmium plating still fresh. Being a 1985 W123, the last year of the chassis, it benefits greatly from a 2.88 rear differential as opposed to a 3.07. This translates to much better highway miles per gallon figures to the point where owners of prior year W123s seek out 1985 cars to swap in the differential.
At $14,500 CDN ($11,319 USD), it is probably priced on the higher end of the market in general. But being in a snowy Canadian city where these cars are pretty rare in this condition, I don’t blame the seller for asking this price. If you want close to the best, you are going to have to pay for it and that is the case with this one. I doubt this one will sell quickly, but I’d imagine if the buyer softened the price up a little, it will make a new owner very happy.
Thanks to reader Chris for sending this in!