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, as the most successful Mercedes, selling 2.7 million units before production ended in the autumn of 1985 for the saloon/sedan versions and January 1986 for coupés and estates/station wagons.
Following a slow production build-up during the first year, 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, the W123 gained the reputation of being well built and reliable. Top of the W123 range was the 280E - the badge indicating the engine’s cylinder capacity and 'Einspritz’ (fuel-injection) induction system. In general it was the same twin overhead cam 2746cc six-cylinder, in-line oversquare unit used in the older W114 280E, but with a significant change from Bosch electronic fuel-injection to the Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical system with air-flow metering device recently adopted on the V8 engines and the 280SE. Customers had the choice of either a four-speed, floor-change manual gearbox or Mercedes-Benz's own four-speed, torque converter, automatic gearbox.
Front suspension is derived from that of the S-class and incorporates zero offset steering and anti-dive geometry. It has double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock-absorbers and an anti-roll bar and is described as “maintenance-free”. Rear suspension is of diagonal swing axle type with coil springs, telescopic shock-absorbers and an anti-roll bar.
Something in the looks of a Mercedes always epitomises solid, reliable, brilliant engineering and the 280E is no exception. That appearances reflect fact is obvious the moment the key is turned in the driver’s door lock each door’s locking button rises silently and smoothly as the vacuum-powered central locking system is activated. The boot lid and petrol filler cap are included in the system, the best in the business.