W123/W124/W201 - Which one would you recommend? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Post W123/W124/W201 - Which one would you recommend?

Hi Everyone,

Firstly thanks to everyone who has contributed to this site - It has been a great source of inspiration to me over the past week or so (very new member ) whilst I have been paging through countless old threads.

I am looking at getting a Merc to use as a daily runner. Budget doesn't allow me to afford some of the newer models and I have enough mechanical knowledge to not be afraid of getting my hands a little dirty on one of the older models. The three models which stand out for me are the three listed in the subject, namely the W123, W124 and the W201. Each has its advantages/disadvantages so I was wondering which you guys would recommend as I have noticed that some of you own two or more of these models and would be able to give an honest opinion.

I live in South Africa and as such I don't really have the option of a diesel W123 as they were not very popular here from what I can tell. In fact I don't think that diesels were that popular in any of these three series in South Africa!!

My leaning is towards the W123 or the W201, but i'm concerned that the W201 will be a little small which is why I introduced the option of the W124. I am a tall guy so I need my space, but i'm not to concerned about the person who has to sit behind me

If there is any more info you need before commenting please just shout!

Thanks in advance,
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 10:37 AM
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W201's have a pretty good ammount of interior room for the front passengers, not much for the back. If you have access to a 190d, I say get it. It is really reliable, and great on gas. The engine is alot more modern than the w123, but yet still easy for the diy'er.

Im not sure about the gas w123's since there arn't many of them in the U.S.
190e's are reliable though. You will want to check for a headgasket failure, as this is a common fault. Also, make sure you test drive it for as long as possible, to make sure there is no stalling or overheating problem.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 11:00 AM
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I like the W124, a good compromise between the two others, the reliability and build quality of the older cars but with some more modern touches you would find in the W201 and more actually being that it was a "higher" model. The looks are classic and they just feel like a tank on the road. Check for head gasket leaks and all rubber components of course in the suspension and hoses, etc. Good luck with your search.


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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies so far.

The 190E has dropped off into a distant 3rd place and I have turned my sights almost entirely on the W124 and W124. I really love the look of the W123 - even the W124 looks a little too modern, but I am familiar with the W124's and a few of the newer features and safety equipment is hard to ignore!

The two models which I am leaning towards are the 230E (w123) and the E220 (w124). I would love one of the six cylinder motors, but I think the fuel bill may be a little steep.

Thanks again for the help so far. If anyone has any further advice please feel free to shout!

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 06:51 AM
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As mentioned previously we don't have many gas 123 here in the USA. Comparing the diesel 123 versus the gas 124, the purchase price for both is very close to each other. The cost of ownership is probably a bit cheaper on the 123 side but this obscures the benefits of the 124. The 124:
- is faster (gas versus diesel)
- handles better
- stops better (ABS)
- does not leak water into the car through the windsheild or rear window seals
- has better vacuum systems
- rusts less than a 123
- is "tighter" from a suspension and build quality perspective
- is better appointed (telescoping steering column, electric seats, seat memory, better sound system (barely),
- etc.

The 123:
- is simpler,
- has much nicer bright trim pieces,
- in diesel form requires much less repair
- has better headlights than a 124 (interesting that they went backwards here)
- probably has more room in the interior and in the trunk

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tuttebenne View Post
probably has more room in the interior and in the trunk
Wow! I really would have thought it would be the other way around - guess I really do need to now try and experience the two cars in the flesh
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 02:27 PM
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I have 20 years under the belt as a Mercedes technician and currently own four of the cars i think are best. W124 E420 '94, W124 200E '91, W123 240D '82 and finally W123 230E '83

E420 '93
240D '82 "The wheel"
200E '91
230E '83 "archaeological effect"
Contra verbosus noli contendere verbis, sermo datur cunctis, animi sapientia paucis.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 03:47 PM
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Pretty sure you will get different answers from everyone depending on what they own, so as you can guess, Imma say a W124.

The W201 are nice, but they're small... that and I have NEVER understood the placement of the trunk button on the rear of the car, this alone would stop me from buying one.

The W123 are very nice, and classic, and that's just not what I would be going for. That and, another weird quirk, the windshield wipers. Theyre just so... I dunno. compared to the ones one the W116 or the W115 I feel like Mercedes cheaped out, I dunno. They just look to normal to be on a Mercedes for me. Im weird.

The W124. THE Mercedes. It's a good size, with modern looks, and modern features. clearly the winner (to me)

I don't think it would be a good idea for me to create a signature. It would probably just be some shameless plug about me being a Realtor.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-13-2015, 09:55 AM
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yes all of them are lovely to drive. i share your idea. and i shall add that the w126 is a dream to drive. but this is my question too. I dont have space for two cars. and for traffic jams i need something smaller and compact. i recently found a very low mileage beautiful 190e 2.6. should i say no to it and go for a w123 2.3E? I know that the w123 is larger and more comfortable car. but the 190 has AC and Auto trannny
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 06:21 AM
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Overall I would say the 124, particularly the V8 400E/E420 which gets the same highway mileage as the 6 cyl models.

I and my wife are small and quite comfortable in the 124, but I have a large, tall friend who definitely prefers my 123 for overall space and comfort. In the 124, he literally has to "shoe horn" himself into the front passenger space even with the seat adjusted fully to the rear and in the back seat, he looks like he's sitting in a toy car. Don

Last edited by ollo; 06-14-2015 at 06:25 AM.
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