In September of 1977, at the Frankfurt Auto Show a car was launched that would change Mercedes-Benz forever. That car was the W123T estate or station wagon, designated with a ‘T’, which stood for Tourismus und Transport – tourism and transport.
It began production in 1978 with all engine options, except the 2.0 OM615 motor, and the exceptional thing about the W123T was that it was the first factory built wagon that they built, previous to this they were all outsourced to custom coachbuilders, for example the company Binz. Only 199,517 were ever built, but because of the class, quality and design of the W123t, many journalists and motoring experts refer to them as the ‘car you cannot kill’, or the car that will do a ‘million miles’.
When new, the T was around DM26,000 (AUD $39,500), and the W123 series of vehicles helped to introduce many new technologies into the Mercedes line, ABS was available from August 1980, drivers airbag from 1982 and a retractable steering column. Standard in the estate was rear-facing seats, there was a 5-speed manual available and a four-speed auto. They were very popular, around the time they were new, AMG, who was not affiliated with Mercedes-Benz at that time, created a monster; the 500TE, that had the amazing M117 5.0 lire V8.
They now have a cult following for their great vintage European shape and style, also because of their amazing reliability. Around the time they were new, AMG, who was not affiliated with Mercedes-Benz created a monster 500TE, that had the amazing M117 5.0 lire V8. We recently restored a 300TD wagon here at Alan Lennox Motors, a customer notified us that his soon to be 18-year-old daughter wanted a W123 wagon for her first car. After many months of motor, body and interior work by Alan, Marcello and the boys in the workshop, the 1980 300TD rolled out of the workshop and into the life a new driver.
Over the years, we have worked on many estates and sedans, we even had one customer who was a chemist by profession and had managed to run his diesel estate of recycled ‘Fish and Chip’ oil, the workshop always smelt great when we worked on his W123 wagon. The style and reliable nature of the W123T, especially in the diesel versions will live on long into the future.