The Mercedes-Benz W123 is a range of executive cars produced by German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz from November 1975 to January 1986. The W123 models surpassed their predecessor, the Mercedes-Benz W114 models, as the most successful Mercedes, selling 2.7 million units before the production ended in the autumn 1985 for saloon/sedan and January 1986 for coupé and estate/station wagon.

The W123 became a hit with the public due to its modern look. Following the slow build-up during the first year of production as to ensure the high and consistent quality, the customers who placed their orders faced a lengthy waiting period of nine to twelve months. A black market emerged for the customers who were willing to pay more for immediate delivery. The slightly used W123 commanded about 5,000 Deutsche Mark premium over its original sale price.

Like its predecessors, W123 gained the reputation of being over-engineered, well-built, durable, and reliable. Many taxi companies chose W123 for this reason, and they were common sight in Germany. Reaching 500,000 or 1,000,000 km with minor mechanical issues was common with W123 used as taxicabs. Once the W123 reached the end of service life, they were often shipped to Africa and third world countries where they were highly esteemed for ability to travel on rough roads and further without frequent maintenance[citation needed].

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

Design
W123 shares technical similarities with its predecessors including engines, steering system, and suspension system. The design is updated with styling cues from its larger sibling, Mercedes-Benz W116, namely wider ribbed taillights, horizontal headlamps and front turn signal indicators on the outer edge, and pull-to-open door handles. The interior is revised with larger instrument panel, central round ventilation outlets, HVAC control panel, single row of control switches in the centre.

The instrument panel has three large gauges placed behind a single plastic cover. The manual HVAC control panel has three large dials with left and right dials for individual temperature control and centre dial for fan speed control. Air flow is controlled by two slides (left for upper zone and right for lower zone). If the optional air conditioning unit is ordered, a temperature roll dial is fitted to the row of control switches. The automatic HVAC control panel is simplified with single roll disc on the left for temperature control, a row of push buttons in the middle for directing the air flow and switching the system on and off, and a vertical set of button on the right for controlling the fan speed and switching automatic control on and off.

All models except 280, 280 E, and coupé feature larger round headlamps with smaller round fog lamps with large glass plate covering entire headlamp housing and acting as diffusing lens. This setup is same for the North American models with the sealed beam units and glass plate partially covering the headlamp housing. The 280, 280 E, and coupé models use large rectangular headlamps with round fog lamps. The headlamp washers and wipers set are optional.


Engine

All engines from W114/W115 are carried over. The single new engine was SOHC 2.5-litre M123 inline six. The 3-litre five-cylinder diesel engine received a proper nomenclature for W123, matching the engine displacement: 300 D instead of 240 D 3.0 on previous W114/W115.

In the autumn 1978, the power output was increased in 240 D from 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) to 72 PS (53 kW; 71 hp) and the in 280 E from 177PS to 185 PS. In early 1979, the power output rose from 55 PS (40 kW; 54 hp) to 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) for 200 D and from 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) to 88 PS (65 kW; 87 hp) for 300 D. 220 D was deleted from the model range for 1980.

In June 1980, the new M102 four-cylinder inline petrol engine replaced the M115. The 2-litre version was available with carburettor only while 2.3-litre version was available with fuel injection only. The carburetted version of 2.8-litre M110 engine in 280 and 280 C was discontinued in 1981, leaving 250 as sole carburetted six-cylinder inline engine.

The world's first turbocharged diesel engine for passenger vehicle, OM617 A was finally introduced in W123 models in September 1979, exclusive to 300 TD TURBODIESEL for European market. The same engine is offered in the North America and Japan in 1981 as 300 D TURBODIESEL, 300 CD TURBODIESEL, and 300 TD TURBODIESEL

Equipment and features
The standard and optional features are extensive along with larger number of engine and gearbox options. The customers could choose cloth, MB-Tex vinyl, velour, or leather material for the upholstery as well as interior wood trim for dashboard and centre console. The paint and interior colour palettes are extensive as well.

The driving dynamic enhancement options for extra cost became more extensive over the time: ABS (from August 1980 onward), self-locking differential gear, five-speed manual gearbox (introduced in 1982 for European market only), Tempomat cruise control system, power steering system (standard from 1982 onward), passenger-side external rear view mirror (standard on S123 model), "Alpine" horn with selectable loudness (popular in Switzerland due to strict noise regulations), retractable steering column (from 1982 onward), and so forth.

The extra cost options for creature comfort includes power windows (with cut-off switch for rear passenger door windows), vacuum-powered central locking system, sunroof (manual and electric), air conditioning system (manual or automatic control), seats with orthopaedic support, electrically heated seats (all seats are individually ordered), pre-heating system (for heating the passenger compartment at pre-selected time when the engine is not running), different assortment of radios with and without cassette players, rear seat head rests, etc. The W123 destined for North American market tend to have more optional features as standard, reflecting the American customer's preference for luxury accessories. For the first time in the executive saloon from Mercedes-Benz, W123 has the option of upgrading to full automatic climate control for extra cost if the customers choose to do so. This option is popular feature in the North American and Japanese markets. The rare option is a column gear selector that could be ordered with automatic gearbox if the customer wishes. The most expensive option was Becker radio telephone, selling for 13,512 Deutsche Mark.

In the estate/station wagon model, a third row rear-facing foldable seat was offered as an extra cost option.

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