I just shot this two hours ago on my walk, and those two hours since have been filled trying to figure out the puzzle this car represents. Yes, it’s a European version, which explains why it’s a four cylinder stick-shift 230C. But I still have a couple of questions for the owner, starting with this one: Why did you toss your orange peels in the street?
That might be fairly easy to answer. This is the one that’s throwing me. It says 230CE on the back. But there was no 230 CE until 1980. The old M115 SOHC four that had its roots way way back in 1955 was never fuel injected (E = Einspritzer); and the new injected M102 four didn’t replace it until 1980.
So maybe this isn’t really a 1977, as the owner alleges. Well, that crossed my mind, and there might have been a possible reason for that. Maybe it was alleged to be older than it really is in order to get around federal import regulations or something like that. The real W123 230CE didn’t arrive until 1980, so maybe this is from 1980 or later?
But there’s a problem with that theory too. I couldn’t help but notice that this coupe has genuine walnut burl wood instead of the cheaper zebrano wood used on the sedans. Here’s where my German bailed me out: when I want really good info, I head to the German wikipedia site, and sure enough, they had the answer: The W123 coupe did use walnut burl, but only though the 1979 model year.
By the way, that (dirty) cloth upholstery is typical Euro-spec. The famous MB Tex vinyl was almost only used for US-bound cars; Germans wouldn’t touch it, literally. And even leather was highly uncommon in Germany until very late in the great Leather Wave. Cloth, or more typically a finely-trimmed velour in nicer cars, was the default in Krautmobiles until quite recently. That includes the most expensive S-Class sedans.
Back to the matter at hand: I’m going to guess that it’s more likely the badge on the trunk was replaced rather than the wood in the dash. That would make this a 1977 230C, with the carbureted M115 2.3L four, which made all of 109 PS (about 111 HP) at a very modest 4800 rpm. A taxi motor, if someone wanted a gas MB taxi.
And I just remembered one more question: who in the hell would put such cheap wire wheel covers on such a handsome car?