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1994 W124 E320 Coupe, 124.052 chassis, M104.992 HFM engine, 722.503 transmission
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60 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Living in Australia naturally my W124 E320 Coupe is right hand drive (RHD). You do see the odd imported car that is LHD, mostly Mustangs.

If you've driven an RHD W124 it is obvious that this car was meant to be LHD and the boffins at Mercedes probably were highly annoyed at having to make a RHD version for a few small markets UK, Australia, NZ, South Africa, etc). Japan is an RHD country, but until recently the bulk of imported cars were LHD because to Japanese sensibilities foreign cars and LHD are inseperable. Even British cars were generally imported as LHD. Recently this trend had changed and mostly RHD are imported. But I digress.

When you get in a Merc for the first time the immediately obvious thing is the key is to the left of the steering column. Usual practice here for most people, most being right handers, is to open the door using the key or remote with the right hand and then, keeping the key in the right hand, shove the key in the ignition. 35 years of driving habit went out the window when I bought my first Merc. Now it's open the door with the right hand, them switch the keys to the left hand to start it.

Luckily for me my car is old enough to have the indicator stalk on the right of the steering column, like all naturally RHD cars. All models after the W124 stuck the indicator on the left. Most people in RHD countries had the technique of putting on the indicator with the right hand while changing gear with the left. Can't be done with both on the left, though having an automatic solves the issue.

You can easily tell that Mercs are designed for LHD because the exhaust is on the left and the fuel tank mainly right. I assume this was on the assumption that there'll always be a driver but not always a passenger so for balance the right side's a bit heavier. This doesn't work when the driver is on the right side.

The gearshift is a dead giveaway. The lettering for the gears is identical for both RHD and LHD cars. This means that it is on the passenger side in an RHD car. Penny pinchers at Stuttgart couldn't be bothered designing a gear stick surround with the lettering on the other side!

Even more egregious is the arm rest. It's identical to the LHD version, ie mounted to the left front seat. This means it moves according to the passenger's whim, not the driver's. More cheap penny pinching.

Of course the hood (bonnet) release stays the same on both RHD and LHD cars, meaning you have to get out and walk around to open it unless you have arms like an orangutan.

The throttle is quite stiff on my car and people here have said that's because the cable has to go about 3 times as far and through a few bends to get to the throttle in an RHD car as pposed to LHD. This makes sense and no, I didn't expect them the design a mirror image version of the engine to solve this.

One think I think that is good, though really irrelevant is the little window in the map pocket of the left door. It shows the next service interval from the log book and is quite visible from the driver's seat. I'm assuming in LHD this is in the driver's door and only visible with the door open?

All in all there's not much to grumble about, though the impression remains that Benz made RHD vehicles under sufference.
 

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1990 W124 300CE-24
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243 Posts
Even more egregious is the arm rest. It's identical to the LHD version, it's mounted the left front seat. This means it moves according to the passenger's whim, not the driver's. More cheap penny pinching.
This is my number one pet peeve. It's also hard to press the (armrest) button whilst driving as my wrist isn't double-jointed!
Re ignition....I like it where it is as it's exotic in the same vein a starter button is in a Bugatti!
 

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1993 280E,RHD
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23 Posts
G'day,mate.I could not agree with you any more,but I have to admit I still love to drive my '93 e280 sedan.
 

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1995 E220
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536 Posts
You can easily tell that Mercs are designed for LHD because the exhaust is on the left and the fuel tank mainly right. I assume this was on the assumption that there'll always be a driver but not always a passenger so for balance the right side's a bit heavier. This doesn't work when the driver is on the right side.
Tank actually is behind the rear seat spread equally between left and right in sedans.
 

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'86 W123 200, OM617 non-turbo, bastard 5-speed; '95 W202 C250 Diesel, OM605 non-turbo, 5-spd man
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4,274 Posts
When you get in a Merc for the first time the immediately obvious thing is the key is to the left of the steering column.
That's because they could see way back when that these cars would be popular to steal here in South Africa, so they made it harder to just see where to slot a copy/skeleton/master key in:D

Luckily for me my car is old enough to have the indicator stalk on the right of the steering column, like all naturally RHD cars. All models after the W124 stuck the indicator on the left. Most people in RHD countries had the technique of putting on the indicator with the right hand while changing gear with the left. Can't be done with both on the left, though having an automatic solves the issue.
Oh yeah? We owned two Land Cruiser 100s - both RHD, and produced within a year from each other - and they had their respective column stalks on opposite sides of each other!

The throttle is quite stiff on my car and people here have said that's because the cable has to go about 3 times as far and through a few bends to get to the throttle in an RHD car as pposed to LHD. This makes sense and no, I didn't expect them the design a mirror image version of the engine to solve this.
Funny that, they seem pretty much of equal length to me, having the same part numbers and all...

These cars were designed in LHD country, but MB has invested heavily in their RHD markets. Then again, you can't get everything right all the time.
 

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'04 W211 E240, MY10 W204 C300
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825 Posts
When you get in a Merc for the first time the immediately obvious thing is the key is to the left of the steering column. Usual practice here for most people, most being right handers, is to open the door using the key or remote with the right hand and then, keeping the key in the right hand, shove the key in the ignition. 35 years of driving habit went out the window when I bought my first Merc. Now it's open the door with the right hand, them switch the keys to the left hand to start it.
Lucky you don't have two a later MB as well. I have a W124 and a W210. The indicators are on the Euro side on the W210 (left) while the ignition key moved to the right. It's a little confusing when moving from one car to the other.

I would rather have commonality of parts world wide. I would hate to think what a RHD version of the ignition control would cost if trying to buy one now.

The throttle is quite stiff on my car and people here have said that's because the cable has to go about 3 times as far and through a few bends to get to the throttle in an RHD car as pposed to LHD. This makes sense and no, I didn't expect them the design a mirror image version of the engine to solve this.
I have drilled another access hole through the firewall and re routed the throttle cable on my W124. It's a much straighter run now.

Japan is an RHD country, but until recently the bulk of imported cars were LHD because to Japanese sensibilities foreign cars and LHD are inseperable. Even British cars were generally imported as LHD. Recently this trend had changed and mostly RHD are imported. But I digress.
I have a Japanese sourced W124 (Grey second hand import to Australia). It's RHD. The majority of MB's exported to Japan were RHD models. The only MB's to go there were specials - e.g. E500's,AMG specials etc.
 

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'86 W123 200, OM617 non-turbo, bastard 5-speed; '95 W202 C250 Diesel, OM605 non-turbo, 5-spd man
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4,274 Posts
The throttle is quite stiff on my car and people here have said that's because the cable has to go about 3 times as far and through a few bends to get to the throttle in an RHD car as pposed to LHD. This makes sense and no, I didn't expect them the design a mirror image version of the engine to solve this.
I have drilled another access hole through the firewall and re routed the throttle cable on my W124. It's a much straighter run now.
Well, even I could be wrong...

Interestingly, I just saw on the EPC that the R129 roadster (which shared the majority of driveline components with the W124) actually had a LHD and a RHD version of the floor shift gate. Go figure.

R129 auto LHD
R129 auto RHD
 

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E550W4
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1,879 Posts
The fuel flap is on the side that it is so, for most places, you won't be standing in traffic when you're filling your car with fuel by the side of the road.

Japanese cars, by comparison, have it on the opposite side so in countries like Australia you won't be standing in the road filling your car with fuel.

It is interesting some of those differences. Most puzzling is the armrest and hood release lever.
 
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