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Where can I find good reference books for the W123 class? I have always liked the cars but would like to learn more about them.
I am looking for information about the relative merits and characteristics of different models within the class. Which are available with manual transmissions? Are any of the automatic transmissions noted for problems? Which are best suited for highway commuting? Are some models problematic from a parts availability point of view? Are some models more prone to corrosion than others?
Thanks,
Dan

[:)]
 

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240D
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There are two versions of the W123 car... Gas and Diesel. There are now far more diesels left on the road than gas. I own a diesel, and have played with many of them. Regarding the diesel version of the W123, here are some replies to your questions, all preceded by ... IMHO ....

Where can I find good reference books for the W123 class? Mercedes has a lot of books written about their cars, but this somewhat prosaic workhorse has not attracted attention, just followers. For a car that probably serves as a taxi in more countries than any other, you would think someone would write a compendium on the various models. A quick search did not turn one up for me. Go here: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Pines/6633/w123.html for the W123 Website

If you live in USA, the following dielel models are most common: 300D, 240D, 300D TURBO, and the 300TD Turbo Wagon. Less common but still plentiful are the 300CD coupes. I have seen stickshifts in all but the wagon, but I would bet the 5-speed was available on that as well.

Automatic transmissions are always less reliable statistically than their manual counterparts, obviously due to the number and complexity of the parts inside an automatic. I have seen enough people bear witness that their car has gone many miles on one tranny to state that the M-B tranny has to be one of the best in the world where reliability is concerned. Go to any Japanese, American, European or Korean car site and work hard as you can to find 10 people who have gone 250,000 miles on their auto tranny. Come to this forum and ask for a show of hands and 50 will respond in a few days. Mind you, you will still see folks kvetching about their tranny that slipped and died at 125,000miles here, but you see too many of these heavy mules still motoring on their first "Swiss watch" not to take notice. But, like a meal at a fine restaurant, if you have to ask how much to repair one, you probably can't afford it. When shopping for a M-B W123, find out what a good tranny feels like, and make sure your car feels that way. BTW... to the uninitiated, a good tranny feels like a bad tranny. LOL

As for highway commuting, most would likely concur that the 300D Turbo is best suited for 4-lanes. Enough power to push you past any radar gun set point, power to pass and gas mileage rivaling a 240D. Here again, the added complexity of 5 cylinders and a turbo add to ownership cost over the years, but it makes the miles add up quicker.

As to parts, between the junkyards and a worldwide MB network of dealers you can find anything your little oil-eater desires. Brand new aluminum trim may be hard to find, but old trim and a buffing wheel will produce fine looking parts at a fraction of new.

As for corrosion, there you may have found the one sore point about these models that few would brag about. The outside of the cars is as corrosion proof as any good car of those production years (pls don't throw in Yugos, they just skew the curve). Problems with corrosion double up on you when they occur from within as well.

It seems there are at least 3 or 4 ways these babies can leak, and most of them have leaked thru one hole or another during their life. The hinges to the hood cover small drain points that become clogged with the first mushy acorn. Next thing you know, you have water backing up into the dash, flowing under the mats and collecting in the rear floorboard. It takes detective work to trace the water back to the source, but once the clog is found and fixed, you will not experience anything like that again.... for at least 2-3 weeks.

Next up in our review of leak points is the windshield gasket. Both front and back gaskets must have been outsourced to the USSR, if not East Germany. They seem to have been made from the worst quality rubber in existance at that time. Go on ebay and count the number of auctions for windshield gaskets for 300Ds and 240Ds. Now find me another car that needs 'em so bad that vendors on ebay sell them like oil filters. Water seeps in past the gasket and runs down into the car and then magically appears 10 feet away. Go figure.

There are other leak points, but they fall quickly into the realm of "same as any other car" so we won't go further into that.

So... here are 10 steps to follow in order to find a good oil-buring W123:
1. Check compession...no wimpy cylinders allowed.
2. Check records... no mystery vagrant sedans allowed
3. Check that compression, damnit
4. Check for signs of love and affection (like oil change receipts)
5. Check for signs of water in floorboards, trunk
6. Check compression....no, no I mean it
7. Check rubber all around the outside of the car. Picture yourself paying $10/inch to have it replaced
8. Check compression by driving and racing the following: for a 300D Turbo, race a city bus; for a 240D race an old woman with a walker or cold maple syrup.
9. Look for signs of smoke at the exhaust pipe. If it smokes, it probably is working.
10. Let someone who knows what they are doing check the compression. This is serious stuff.

After all that, you probably will go out and buy a gas burner. That's okay, the rest of us oil-burning sickos don't want to share our inventory of spare parts anyway. Good Luck ! TS99
 
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race a city bus? come on, its not that bad. theres plenty of punks with "abused" hondas and nissans and other 4 poppers that i regularly dust. but not maintained, these cars can get pretty slow, pretty fast. true. but just simply dont buy one unless its mint, and ur problems are then half over. these cars are for tinkerers, most definately. (at least if u want to race rice's)
 

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In Southern California, as traffic approaches permanent gridlock, the lack of get up and go in my 1980 300D makes the crawl seem almost planned for - if you have to crawl it might as well be in a very comfortable car with chrome bumpers and a huge sun roof...
 
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which particular plastics are u talking about? i am slaughtering a 4 door, but some of the trim is interchangeable. ie the grills over the air intakes front of the windscreen, etc. lemme know what ur looking for.
 

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Wait sorry I meant rubber trim. Mainly around driver and passanger door along with new window and sunroof seals.

O and you make checking compression very important. Would a local mechanic be able to do that?
 
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