By on March 7, 2011

The agonizing downward spiral of civilization continues; you saw a Mercedes-Benz W126 coupe sacrificed to China’s hunger for scrap steel, and now there’s this even cooler Benz coupe counting the minutes until it, too, gets crushed. At least some of this car’s parts will live on.

Back when Mercedes-Benz products were known for incredible build quality— yeah, it’s been a while— most of the marque’s customers went for sensible four-door machinery; if you wanted a sporty Benz, why, you picked up a shiny new R107. That makes the beautiful W126 coupes quite rare today.

This one, located in a Denver self-service wrecking yard, appears to have suffered a small engine fire, but otherwise seems fairly solid. Why, Car Gods, why?

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26 Comments on “Junkyard Find: Mercedes-Benz W123 Coupe...”

  • avatar

    That’s a beauty. How can it not be worth more than scrap? something is rotten in denmark

  • avatar

    Pretty sure the 280 was a non-US model at the time, so this one would be grey-market and “federalized”. M-B USA didn’t much care for the greymarket cars and in the late 80s started requiring VINs to get service parts. If it came back as a non-US model, you were SOL unless you had a friend in Germany who could ship parts to you.
    We had a flood-damaged 280SL come through our shop in ’87, which is where we first encountered this problem.

  • avatar

    Even in US trim with the big bumpers and round lights, these coupes were very classy looking. Just enough curvaceousness to stave off the boxiness of the sedans. Shame to see this one slowly fading away, but I suppose it’s too far gone to try to rescue, though there are lots of usable parts and trim bits to be had from it.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    They’re possibly the only car that looks better dirty, abused, and neglected than they do new. You could still drive this one around in any major city and retain more dignity than somebody in a brand-new shiny Versa.

  • avatar

    It’s a rusty heap that’s going to be recycled.  Why so sad? It lived a good life and now it has a chance to be reborn as something new.  The cycle of life continues.

    • 0 avatar

      In the US, it’s the rarest of rare for a “mass-produced” car. In the era it was built, 80% of the W123 bodies shipped to the US were Diesel powered. And as Murilee points out (somewhat confusedly), the W123 coupes never sold well. So it’s the least common version of the least common version of its family.
      I wish it was nearby. I could use some of the parts off it myself.

    • 0 avatar

      the rarest of rare for a “mass-produced” car.

      It was, and now it’s a rusty heap.

  • avatar

    “It’s a trap!”
    “Nonsense, my father owned one”

  • avatar

    Its because of that hideous blue interior.  Good god that’s awful.  I like me some W123s, but I’d never own one with that nasty blue MB tex. 

    Also, that car weighs about 3500 lbs.  That’s alot of $$ for scrap.  And as I’m finding out piecing out a ’79 300D I bought for parts, most parts aren’t worth all that much. 

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    IIRC you could actually get a W123 diesel coupe in the US..  I’m not terribly saddened by this, but seeing a 1987 300TD go to a crusher would be a crime against humanity.
    (The absolute latest Benz I would own is the W140, preferably diesel.  Anything after that would need to be a lease with a full warranty.)

    • 0 avatar

      An acquaintance of mine still has a 300CD and drives it regularly. (He also built his own diesel-powered motorcycle, for reasons I can’t fathom.) I still see a few of those and scads of 240Ds and 300Ds, but very few of the gas-powered 123s. No veggie-power cult to come to their rescue, unfortunately.

      Don’t feel too sad; even M-B itself ran an ad a few years ago that featured a W115 (IIRC) being “reborn” as a new C-class after a long useful life. Granted, that might be somewhat like a human being reincarnated as a spider monkey, but still…

    • 0 avatar

      I still see a few of those and scads of 240Ds and 300Ds, but very few of the gas-powered 123s.
      As I mentioned, 80% of the W123s that were shipped to the US were diesels. Gas powered versions were rare in the 70s, so it’s not surprising that they’re equally rare now.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about build quality. My friend Barbara had a1977 280 E that was very troublesome including a new engine due to oiling problems.
    My fried the Admiral had better luck. His coupe had power windows in the front, and cranks in the rear.    

  • avatar

    As with many classics, this one would cost three times as much to restore as it would cost to buy a nice one. Nice Mercedes are expensive, bad ones are even more expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. There’s a nice example for sale in my area right now. <52k miles, and asking $5600. Still sad to see one let go to the point it isn’t savable.

  • avatar

    One thing that was probably NOT reliable on these cars was the HVAC system.  The same climate controls were optional equipment as “Auto Temp II” in Chrysler and Imperial vehicles starting in 1971.  It is unreliable and difficult to diagnose and repair.  I can see the control unit in one of the underhood shots, with the huge bundle of vacuum lines attached to it.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re correct on that – as rugged the W123 series was, their HVAC systems were inferior to a more proletarian Chevy’s (in particular their A/C) in many ways. 

  • avatar

    Whenever I see one of these, I think of the cover of Jackson Brown’s “Lawyers in Love” album.

  • avatar

    This is one car I’d like to own.  Not because it’s so special, but because it’s the most “ordinary” of Mercedes, from back when a Benz cost 25 percent more than an Opel of similar size, and was worth every penny of it.  My dad had the sorriest version of the W123, a 1980 200 — 4 cylinder, with a carbureted engine — and while it sucked gas and was weirdly equipped with rollup windows, electric sunroof, no AC, and a 4speed manual, he drove it until 1998 and to the last, the doors closed with that bank-vault thunk that you simply cannot fake.  A real Mercedes.
    This one being a coupe just adds ot the weirdness.  My question to all of you knowledgeable loonies:  Where does one go in 2011 to buy a rust-free, gas 123?  I live in MI, and around here, forget it.  Rust eats everything.  Also, is this a reasonable proposition as a summer car?  Are parts available?  At ~ 30 years of age, are these still holding up?
    Cheers  -Mathias

    • 0 avatar

      I had an ’81 300D that I kept until the realities of my work schedule (constant travel) outran the time and motivation I had available to do all the little fixes I wanted to do, but it was a great car even in the somewhat decrepit state into which it had declined (this was around 2005). All the parts I ever needed could be had, for a price (sometimes steep, sometimes not). If you really want one, I’d look in the Southeast, maybe around Atlanta, or out west. The problem I had, though, was not rust per se (yet), but the deterioration of all the rubber parts like window seals, which eventually leads to…rust, if you’re in a place that gets rain and snow.

    • 0 avatar

      California. I have a friend that owns 9 W123 cars. Gasoline 4 speed cars, a 300D 4 speed sedan, etc. He seems to buy one every other month. Most of the ones he buys are high-mileage parts cars. He’ll get one with 600,000 miles, bad paint and a trashed interior, strip it of all the small parts, drivetrain and whatever interior parts are still good. If the shell is solid he keeps it. If there is collision damage or rust he’ll scrap it. He has euro lights, 3 pc. bumpers, various engines, trannys and diffs, etc. Personally I’d like to find a 300 wagon and then make it a 2 door hardtop wagon using the doors, pillars, quarters and glass from a 300 coupe. It’d be major surgery but it would also be a 1 of 1 car.

  • avatar

    The Benzes from this era seem so unremarkable to me now.  Yet compared to what was being built then they really were special in the build quality department.  The climate control panels on these cars always seemed overly complex and crude, like an afterthought.  The Subaru next to it brings one thought to mind: Inexpensive, and Built to Stay That Way.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      The ride these cars offered still amazes me.  So solid.
      I knew of one woman around here who replaced all the rubber parts, hoses, etc. on her black on tan 300D, I’m told it’s just immaculate.  Another lady has been seen driving her silver on black 300D on my street from time to time.  Immaculate car, the paint looks showroom.  It idles down the street at a pretty good clip, sounding just as good as it did new.
      Yes, the lines do seem unremarkable, but they’re so clean, that one piece of trim that goes along the sides from the front all the way to the back, and they’re surprisingly small by today’s standards, just look at one next to a contemporary camcord.  Yet inside their legroom seems more than generous.
      And what other well-equipped, tightly built, four-door sedan suitable for comfortable highway cruising available in the early eighties got 25-30 mpg?   They’ve got good brakes, too.  Even today.
      A friend’s brother had a 300SD with 445,000 mi.  on the clock when it was wrecked.  Find a Lincoln/mercury or Buick from that era that could do that and I’ll detail it for ‘ya.
      But yes, as another commenter noted, the vaccuum system that controls the HVAC dampers requires removal of the dash to repair (might as well replace the whole thing these days).  A friend of mine did it once, what a mess.

  • avatar

    “Nardi to steer with, Alpine deck was glowin\'” – Ice T

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