Curbside Outtake: Mercedes 300CD Coupe (W123) – Let Us Pay Homage One More Time

Let us once more pay homage to one of the more classic curbside classics. There are certain cars that inevitably float up into that vaunted category: Volvo 200 Series, GM B/C Box Bodies, Mercedes W116 and W126, certain Panthers and Foxes, and a few others. But the W123 is right up there, at or near the top. And its successor, the W124 belongs there too, but they seem to rather suddenly have flown the coop. Do they not have the inherent perma-life qualities of the W123?

And the finest of these is of course the coupe, which in the US was almost invariably the 300CD, in either naturally aspirated or much preferably in turbocharged form. There was a W123 280CE offered, but they were rather rare birds. A clattering throbbing diesel five in an elegant coupe is something of an oxymoron, but that’s also part of what gives them their unique character. And long life, as these engines were cannonball-proof.

I’m not sure of the exact year of this one, but in 1981 they started at right around $30k. That’s a very lofty $85k in today’s dollars. But they were the hot thing at the time, if you could afford it. The diesel Tesla of their times.


The interior of this is showing its age much more obviously than its exterior. Did it get a repaint? But that old-school Mercedes genuine leather wore like iron, despite the cracks, unlike the “leather” in our 7 year old TSX that’s falling apart in a few places. Wasn’t the original idea of leather to be an extra-durable surface for convertibles and such?


It’s nice to see this still wearing its original “Bundt” 14″ alloys, as so many have been changed to the 15 inchers from the W124 or other aftermarket wheels. These just suit so much better than flush aerodynamic style wheels.