(first posted 12/18/2014) In 1976, the base price of this Mercedes 280C was $13,520 ($55k adjusted), $1041 more than the new 1976 Cadillac Seville. It had a 2.8L six that only managed to crank out a feeble 120 hp, thanks in part to lack of fuel injection. It took some 15 seconds to trundle from zero to sixty. The Seville’s fuel injected 5.7 L V8 made 180 hp, had almost twice the torque, and made the sprint to sixty in some 12-13 seconds. Where’s the true value in that?
Well, the answer isn’t going to be found in facts, statistics and numbers alone, although they certainly play a part. Isn’t that commonly the case with luxury cars?
Obviously, tradition, prestige, and exclusivity are major factors. Despite certain objective shortcomings, including the unfortunate five mile bumpers, this 280C embodied the tradition of Mercedes coupes, which always sold in much smaller quantities than the pedestrian/taxi cab four door sedans, and as such were intrinsically more exclusive and prestigious.
Although there were Mercedes coupes going much further back, including the exquisite 300S coupe of the fifties, the modern lineage of Mercedes hardtop coupes that has gone unbroken to the present started with the exceptionally graceful W111 coupe that first appeared in 1961. We’ve covered the cabrio here, but not yet the coupe. It was based on the “fintail” sedan, but minus the fins, and a very tasteful coupe roof. In Germany, it was colloquially called “the Thunderbird Mercedes”.
The W111 coupe was highly regarded from day one, and it became semi-collectible already while it was still in production, which was all the way into 1971, by that time with the new 3.5 V8.
The all-new W114/W115 series of mid-range cars arrived in 1968. The low-pivot swing axle rear suspension was finally gone, replaced by semi-trailing arms, and a new ball-joint front suspension graced the front. These cars set the basic architecture for all subsequent Mercedes generations until the W201 and w124s in the early 80s.
These cars were styled by Paul Bracq, but this coupe version clearly was not quite as attractive and graceful as the W108; these cars were designed as sedans in the most utilitarian definition, and adapting the boxy body to coupe just didn’t work all that well. They kept the same wheelbase as the sedan, but the roof is a bit lower, and the C-pillar is a bit further forward, resulting in a longer trunk. Its successor W123 used a shortened wheelbase, with a bit more flair in its coupe roof, for a better effect. These are Bauhaus coupes.
I had mixed feeling when I first saw it, and I still do a bit today, but undoubtedly, it has a certain appeal, in that most old-school Mercedes way. More like the Taxicab of coupes.
The coupe arrived sometime in 1969, which meant that both the W111 and w114 250C (above) were on sale at the same time for some time, although the 250C was of course less expensive. The 250C didn’t arrive in the US until 1970, and then with the 2.8 L six, making its model designation confusing, something that would be happening ever more often until Mercedes switched to a clear “class” designation.
Why the 2.8? Well, let’s just say that these coupes were not very light, and combined with US emission regs, they all suffered from being somewhat (or substantially) underpowered. I have a Road & Track review of a 1970 250C in front of me, and as much as they loved its superb ride, handling, brakes and impeccable build quality, performance was tepid. In 1970, the older SOHC 2.8 M130 engine still had 157 hp, but the heavily-optioned test car (automatic, A/C, etc.) weighed a chunky 3800 lbs (and cost a lofty $8827; $52k adjusted).
The saunter from 0-60 took 13.6 seconds; at least the four-speed automatic allowed the engine to use its full powerband; but not every luxury car buyer was intrinsically enamored of hearing the six sing soprano scales to 6000rpm on full-throttle upshifts. The 1/4 mile took a leisurely 19.0 seconds, with 72 mph in the traps.
That was in 1970. By 1976, things were even worse, performance wise. Even though the DOHC M110 2.8L six was now under the hood, power was down to that very paltry 120hp. European versions had up to 185 hp, a decent number for the time, with fuel injection, higher compression, and no smog controls.
The painful truth is that Mercedes seemed to struggle more with its gas engines during the malaise era than did BMW and Porsche, especially its sixes. Why it didn’t put the fuel injection on these coupes and the W114 250/280 sedan is highly questionable. But the old Mercedes mechanical fuel injection system was very expensive, just like the old Rochester unit in the Chevys.
Mercedes was in the midst of transitioning to its electronic D-Jetronic system, and presumably didn’t want to bother certifying it for the US just yet. Or something like that. But the 0-60 time was now down to around 15 seconds. The same 120hp engine in the big W116 280S was even worse; rather dreadfully underpowered for a gasoline DOHC six.
By 1977, the new W123 cars appeared, and the 280E now had fuel injection and a whopping 142 hp. But by then, diesels had become the most popular choice on US-bound Mercedes, and most of these coupes are 300CDs, like this one. So obviously, performance was not the driving force that was propelling Mercedes sales ever upwards in the 70s and 80s; at least not until 1985, when the new 140 mph W124 300E appeared.
In addition to Mercedes Mania, which was sweeping through major metropolitan areas on the coasts, it was the Mercedes reputation and prestige factor, as well as their impeccable build and material quality. That attracted buyers, although there’s no doubt that many would have been better served with a plusher-riding Cadillac or Lincoln. You might be surprised, but at the time I as much as said so to some prospective buyers considering their first Mercedes at the time. Do you have any idea how slow a 240D is? And how firm the ride can be at slow speed? These cars were not designed primarily for typical American drivers used to their isolation cocoons, wafting down the freeway at the double nickel, or stuck in rush hour traffic. But they just had to have them.
Others knew what they were getting into, like the owner of this one, a one-owner car, with 280k miles on the odometer. It’s his keeper, and has had its engine rebuilt at 180k miles, and an exterior re-paint along the way. The interior obviously shows the decades of use, although the famously-durable old-school Mercedes thrones are still in very good condition.
Here’s one that shows off the coupe’s ambiance, materials and handsome instrument binnacle to better advantage.
So this coupe is a keeper in the truest sense of the word. And despite its limitations under the hood, which of course would be very easy to remediate now with some Euro-spec M110 engine tuning, it’s a fine specimen and one that has become rather rare on the streets, unlike the numerous 220Ds of the same vintage still to be found here. Its price/value equation might not have been very favorable at the time, but amortized over almost forty years and 300k miles, who cares?
The W111 and W114 coupes put me in mind of early 50s Chevy 2 door hardtops in that they are “nice” cars, even good looking, but with the factory 6 cylinder engines? Well, you either have to REALLY love the looks or you strongly consider an engine transplant.
The W124 coupes, on the other hand, are like mid 60s Chevy hardtops…graceful looking and depending on factory engine, decent performers.
And that sums up my feelings about most Mercedes: it very often comes down to which engine it has more than which body style you favor.
I would take this Mercedes over a Seville any day. While the price and performance may need to be taken into account by some, I’m not one of them. The Mercedes was just a hair more expensive than the Seville. It is now a classic, and the Seville, if any are left, is just a piece of GM junk. The Mercedes performance deficit does not bother me in the least, as this is not a performance car. The Mercedes is a 2 door, the Seville is a 4 door. That alone would make the decision for me, but the Mercedes is so much more. The one issue with a 1976 Mercedes is parts availability and cost.
I don’t like seeing Mercedes compared to BMW. I am a lifelong BMW hater. All my life as a mechanic, I have seen people have nothing but trouble with BMW cars and motorcycles. BMW sells an image, Mercedes used to make damn good cars. Sadly they don’t anymore. And they no longer have their distinctive look either. Mercedes has gone so overboard with technology it’s a wonder their new cars run at all. Right now, a 10 year old Mercedes is worth about a 10th what it cost new. I almost bought one once. High mileage, but looked great, and it had a great price as well. Then I looked at parts prices and ran away as fast as possible.
But I sure wouldn’t mind owning this one. Probably would never need any parts, and it didn’t have any unnecessary technology.
“The Mercedes was just a hair more expensive than the Seville. It is now a classic, and the Seville, if any are left, is just a piece of GM junk.”
The first generation Seville of this era was a fairly robust car that has had its own following since the day it went out of production. Many are still around, and nice ones sell for pretty good money.
Well, a Seville may have a cheaper interior and a poorer finish, but I’m pretty sure that it’s Olds 350 and TH400 automatic was way better than the MB powerplant, also in the long run. The Seville had much more equipment, was way more quiet at highwayspeeds and well, the looks, in Norway people tend to like the Seville way better than these MBs from this era.
Give me a bustleback Seville from 79 to 81 (before the HT4100) over this. That said, when I first saw the pic, it looked like this Benz had a vinyl top. It actually looks like it would look really sharp with one.
North-Am spec big bumpers are ruling 🙂
Very… Well, I should say very awkward cars. My neighbour has a ’73 with the the rubber bumper trim missing that she drives every day. Seeing it parked in her driveway next to a Mazda 323 and a Dodge Dakota really shows the awkwardness even more. These W114 coupes bother me because while the body APPEARS to be rather squared-off and wide, the car itself in reality is very low and skinny. The combination of a cigar-box body and the tall roofline just throws off all sense of balance when viewing the car from the side. Especially when juxtaposed next to a Dodge Dakota and all of it’s wide and low self. The sedan fixes the issue (as you stated Paul) by tricking the eye into thinking the trunk is shorter and the rear wheels are set back farther than they really are. Until you see either car from behind and realize both are tall and skinny. Still, I like the bevelled taillights, and appreciate that the pre-war design cues look more at home on this model than it’s contemporary brothers. I just like later 190E 2.5 better is all.
It’s not a trick; the sedan’s trunk is shorter. By shortening the roof, but not shortening the wheelbase, these coupes ended up with a longer (and bigger) trunk than the sedans.
Mercedes learned from this, and shortened the wheelbase on the subsequent generations.
Really? Wow, that seems like a slight oversight by them. I thought the trunk had a little strip of metal between it and the rear windshield on the coupe that was missing on the sedan, but then again I’ve never had the different W114 models side by side in front of me to compare. Thanks for telling me, Paul.
We got these with the Euro spec styling and motors, and they were rather wonderful things. The solid, baked-in quality of the trim really left a positive impression.
The bumpers would have to go they are truly awful but the car itself is fine, I get by in modern traffic just fine with a 50hp Hillman Minx and one of these Benz would blow the doors off that so the 0-60 times are quite irrelevant in actual driving of more use is the 40-70 acceleration times.
This is a clean example, but I just can’t get past those bumpers.
If you wanted to attach euro-style bumpers to these, is it permissable? I realise that’s a state-by-state question, but it always occurs to me when I see nice lines marred by the heavy-handedness.
I would think the bumper switch depends on whether the state one lives in requires inspection, and who is inspecting. For our international audience, different US states have different laws in that regard. Some do not require inspection. Some do. Some have state run inspection stations. Some don’t. In New York, where I live, yearly inspections are mandatory, but they are done by private mechanics who are certified by the state and who install an emissions tester. This naturally can lead to abuse of the system, but, frankly, can be an advantage to the enthusiast. The inspectors have the ultimate power to bust you or leave you alone. I doubt one could be found who would care a whit about it if you changed out the fed bumpers on a 40 year old car. You would have to question why the guy decided to “hate on you”.
For years, a certain cache was attached to any gray market cars you might run across. An ocean-crossed car in the US with euro headlamps and no bumper implants carried a sexy whiff of the illegal. Not only rare, it illuminated the owner as well connected and wealthy enough to get his way and flaunt it.
Those huge bumpers on Mercedes, especially on ’70s SLs, may look like hell, but they gradually, by repetitive viewing, figured in the solidity factor of those cars; when one saw/sees an SL or SLC without them, the ends of the car look, if better proportioned, so vulnerable.
25 years ago, a friend of mine had a nice used coupe like the one pictured. I remember liking it, but now I wonder if my mind separated the 2-door out for special consideration, because it it certainly doesn’t fit the shape as well as the 4-door version. I asked what he felt about it, and he said he liked it but would never buy another due to the expense of parts and service. I marked him down as a car guy who, like me with my W108, had a chance to own an older Mercedes and took it in spite of himself. For my part, it was worth it.
I know what you’re saying by that familiarity thing. After years of exposure to those bumpers, the euro-style would be like looking at Tina Fey without her glasses on.
You’re right about the 4-door being a better shape. I love me an MB coupe, but of the chrome bumpers this one is the most anodyne. Even the W123 is better. But it still looks good. I recently caught this one resplendent in metallic green and couldn’t keep my camera off it.
For my part, it’s been worth it.
What’s the deal with the bumper screens, Don? Are there fog lights behind them, or are they keeping bugs out of some sort of manifold intake?
Bug deflectors for the under-bonnet ducting behind them. They’re quite common here.
Nicely done! Also the faster c-pillar is a stylistic tie to the W124 and W126 coupes…
The inspectors in NYS have no discretion when it comes to emissions testing…On all OBD II cars a computer is connected to the OBD port that transmits directly to DMV in Albany. If there is a fault code the car immediately fails the inspection and a sticker can’t be issued….They do have more latitude with safety…brake thickness etc…Removal of 5mph bumpers in NY would not effect inspection whatsoever
I read that the 5mph bumper requirement died out in 98?. 8kph ones are still required in Canada hence a pain if you import a car from the states.
There are no inspections in the state where I live, and the occasional dying beater car will have some very odd attachment replacing the original bumper that may have fallen off. A car properly rebuilt to European spec would never be noticed.
That might be the same for most inspection states – my guess is the average inspector is looking mostly at emissions, and ensuring the vehicle is sound. The average inspector was probably born after the early days of Federalized bumpers and would have no idea what a ’76 Benz should have been fitted with.
California may have some of the tougher inspections, and they probably have more customized cars than any state – many of those cars have almost no bumpers to speak of. Somehow, they get on the road.
Yep, plenty of bumperless hot-rods (and beaters) rolling around. I don’t think they care as there is no inspection step for “factory equivalent bumpers”. Same with things like euro lamps–as long as it casts the appropriate amount of light in the appropriate direction, that’s good enough for the inspection. So if you want to retrofit euro composites to a W123, for example, no big deal. Or bi-xenon HIDS to your hot rodded ’32 Ford. Or single round sealed beams to a brand new S-class. Does it produce light above the legal minimum, and is it aimed correctly? Yes? Good. Move along.
In Oregon, 100% absolutely nobody would care. And I can’t imagine that to not be the case in every other state. These were a federal requirement to be sold here; no state emission or safety inspection would ever check on this.
I don’t think that any state inspector or even the police (who have the power to cite a car with a obvious defect on the road) would even bother it (or even know that ) that they are different then what should be on the car. They check that the front and back bumpers are mounted securely and that if there are lights in the bumper that they work correctly and that is as far as they go checking bumpers on cars.
So as long as your bumper is not hanging off or dragging then you are fine.
You can do anything you want with the bumpers on a used car. I agree the bumpers are hideous. But so were the bumpers on a Seville. You can blame the U.S. govt for that. Sticking their nose where it don’t belong.
In 1974 my father was considering trading his 2 year old Mark IV. I recall stopping with him at the M-B dealer to look around. The place was closed, so we just walked and looked. I don’t think “sticker shock” was a known term in 1974, but that was what we experienced. Dad just shook his head in disbelief, and this was a guy ready to pony up for an expensive car. Truly a different paradigm for a luxury car.
I once had a 1977 280E sedan (W123) with the 185 hp DOHC M110 engine. The M130 was the older SOHC engine. The car felt very strong between 100 and about 180 km/h. It’s the roughest six cylinder engine I’ve ever experienced, but just as happy to rev as any BMW engine, albeit louder while doing so. Some say it’s the best Alfa Romeo engine Mercedes has ever built. I always liked it in the smaller cars but a high reving 2.8 liter six is not exactly made for a heavy luxury car like the W116 and early W126 models. I drove both of them and they felt sluggish – and I am talking about the 185 hp European cars!
I noticed there’s no pictures of a ’76 Seville, but thanks for all the shots of the elegant, classic and enduring Mercedes. 38 years on, trying to compare the 2 is like apples and oranges. There is no comparison. MB owners don’t care about winning the race to the next stoplight. I’d wager that there’s more MBs from the 70s in the hands of their original owners than anything GM ever made. 1976 marked the beginning of the end for GM in my view and MB was just starting to rev up. Cadillac is still trying to figure out what it is and the Germans are winning everywhere.
These were styled by Paul Bracq and not by Bruno Sacco; I once read an interview where Bracq stated he was never completely happy with the roof, nor was he with the (in)famous pagoda, for that matter.
Quite right; too much hurrying.
Now I’m wondering what he would’ve done differently with the pagoda.
Also makes me wonder what would’ve happened if M-B had decided in 1969 to have a model in every European size segment by 1975, thus having their ’90s doldrums in the ’70s. Would their reputation have suffered less from having fallen at the same time everyone else was improving, or would it have never been burnished to that level if, say, the W123 had a Chevy Citation-like reputation?
As mentioned , the M-110 was the later , DOHC i6 engine , a real stormer when properly tuned and kept ‘ On The Boil ‘ but *very* thirsty .
I nearly bought a ’75 280CE ~ that’s the uber rare Coupe with Bosch D-Jetronic F.I. ~ a rare beast indeed .
It was a one owner (Elderly Japanese fellow) in Chinese Red , neat as a pin but slightly too $pendy for my tastes .
I bought yet another W-123 Diesel Sports Coupe and never looked back , it’s parked out side now =8-) .
The Euro bumpers clean up the looks of any Mercedes but , they’re also made of tin foil . some of my W-123’s have Euro Spec. bumpers & headlights , the 240D putter SWMBO drives daily , doesn’t although it does have various other European bits & bobs I’ve swapped out over the years .
Mercedes parts can be expen$ive but if you take care of it and do the work your owndamnself , they use very few parts and are dirt cheap to run .
The Mercedes Classic Center can get all manner of parts , cheaper than your local M-B Dealer , often faster too .
Yes; I transposed the M110 and M130 names later down in the article. Fixed now.
My memory and my reference books all tell me that the 280CE was not imported to the US until the new W123 version came along in 1977. Maybe it was a gray market import?
Oops ~ it was a _250CE_ and yes , it may well have been a gray market , So. Cal. seems to have been the center of that market .
Certainly I’ve only ever seen a handful of D-Jet equipped 250C’s .
Much more common was the 250S ~ dual Solex carbys .
Surprised at the ambivalence on the styling–I personally think these coupes are beautiful. Perhaps not quite the equal of the W123 coupes, which did have a certain flair to the roofline, but they have that timeless elegance that characterizes the W114/115 cars, and I don’t find the proportions awkward at all. Now those bumpers, on the other hand… I think it would be pretty easy to get away with a bumper swap though. Most states don’t even check for that, as far as I know, as it’s legal to run completely without bumpers in many locations.
Also, nice to hear that the featured car is one-owner. 280K miles and 38 years…a lifelong partnership. And the black/silver is a sharp-looking color combo as well.
I’m sort of in the same camp – being a hardtop can make up for a lot of sins. I don’t personally think the contrasting paint (reminds me of vinyl topped Volvo coupes of the era) does much for this car, but paint the whole thing a deep blue and this would be a sharp car. A lot of these rolled on white walls when new, and that would add a nice vintage touch.
Honestly, even the bumpers don’t bother me that much. MB approached the issue much like, of all car companies, AMC. The extended out on shock absorber look sort of looks like the average early post war car.
The location of the “C” pillar on this model has always bothered me too. It is simply too far forward. Another coupe with this issue, for me, was the ’95-’99 Riviera.
But the W123 coupe completely corrected the problem for me and I bought a dealer demo ’79 280CE at the end of the model year. That led to subsequent MB coupes. To this serial MB owner the most balanced and lithe looking MB coupe is the W124 but unfortunately I’ve never had one of those.
I was told (in about 2001) by mercedes specialist Match Cars here in Kensington MD that these six cylinders require a costly top end rebuild at around 100,000 that is more expensive (I think he said $3,000) than the value of the cars (at the time). I’m not a mechanic, so I can’t detail the problem and I can quite remember it, I think it was the valves or the carb, or something. I never heard him say anything negative about Mercedes except for this engine and the 6.9 (which he said required engine removal for nearly any required work).
I love the ochre-ish colored leather in many Mercedes of this era.
My Father had a small bumpered, 1972 model, a very German dark green color with the same brown interior of this article car. It was 8 years old when purchased, looked and drove like a 2 year old car. The precious owner had installed the later model silver alloy wheels, with the center part painted a bronze color. All together, a most dignified, quietly classy car. Even my Mother liked to “borrow” this one of Dad’s automotive indulgences.
I found the dark green exterior/brown leather interior most pleasing-to-the-eye. Although not Mustang 5.0 fast; it was still peppier than many of the automotive slugs of the early 1980’s.
The Western Auto quality air conditioning left something to be desired, especially in a car of this price and class. It worked, but just barely in the Heat & Humidity that soaks New Orleans much of the year.
How often Dad (and I) heard the comment “I didn’t know they made a 4 passenger coupe!”
More than once the competent, drama free handling and balanced braking of this car saved me from myself (unlike Dad’s previous Porsche 911 that I spun off the road back bumper first, the first time I drove it in the rain.)
The two carburetors on this car gave us no end of trouble. Temperamental and Touchy, they were seldom in proper adjustment.
With just 70K on it, the clunky 4 speed automatic transmission died; costing a breathtaking (at the time) $800.00 rebuild.
Like SO many of my and Dad’s past automotive treats; I’d love to buy this one back, in the condition it was when sold, for what it sold for.
Theres no denying that these are well made cars and built to last. AND for whatever reason, those who own them truly love their cars. That said, the coupe bodystyles leave me scratching my head. That brown one which is a little newer, sleeker and more contemporary LOOKS the part, but the older ones are really confusing. As a sedan they make perfect sense since they have that reserved, classy almost stuffy look about them. These could easily pass as something British. But the execution and the whole character and nature of these comepletely fly in the face of what a 2 door coupe is all about.
That said, the brown one would be sweet with something under the hood whether you tuned some real power out of the Benz plant or swapped in something else.
I shot this “302C” 5.0 on the street a while back. It’s obviously packing a Ford 302 under the hood.
If money was no object, an ideal swap would be a modern M-B V6…but to keep the costs out of astronomical range, the 302 isn’t a bad choice. Seems a little sacreligious but a lot sensible. The Ford 5.0 is a very common choice for Volvo guys to replace the B27/B28 V6 in older 260/262/760 models.
Now that DOES look like fun….
One of my buddies put a 5.0 in a sedan version of these coupes and it was horrible. I don’t know if it was the execution or that the car could not handle the 5.0s torque. Everytime he put his foot down the car would buck like a wild bronco.
They’re under-differentiated from the sedan in the most expensive way possible. Longer trunk (was the lid a different pressing? I don’t see a widened tulip panel), different roof pressing, different rear window, different rear fenders. All for an overall effect that just says “two-door sedan”. Compare that with what Plymouth did at the same time to make the Duster from the Valiant sedan, ending up with a completely different-looking car with a completely different image.
I am always surprised at the cars of my younger years popping up here. You are entirely correct, Mercedes mania was indeed sweeping through the metropolitan coastal areas in the mid-70’s, and in L.A. I was swept right along with it. A ’74 280C was coming off lease at my company in 1976, and nothing would do but I had to have it. I remember paying about $6K for it then, but I was in car heaven driving my first new (to me) Mercedes. It was tobacco brown with a bamboo MB Tex interior, and I thought it was a fabulous color combo. But having sold my previous car, my ’70 Cougar XR-7 rocket ship, this was a rude awakening to Mercedes performance of those years. The car was very heavy, especially front-end heavy, and it just couldn’t seem to get out of its own way. The seats and ride were harsh, at best, and as you note, it was painfully underpowered, but the impeccable build quality compensated for me. It had an automatic transmission, but unlike the featured car with the shifter on the floor, mine had a column-mounted shift lever with the oddest shift gate pattern I have ever experienced, along with a big ugly padded shift lever knob. Never did get used to it, it drove me nuts. That, and the agonizingly slow power windows, and the air conditioning that never seemed to put out enough cool air for hot summer SoCal days. I always wondered why that trunk lid was so long, but it made for cavernous carrying capability. But I was enthralled, nonetheless, the prestige and exclusivity of Mercedes appealed to me in those days, and this MBZ coupe ultimately led to three more for me. Interestingly, with Mercedes mania still in full bloom three years later, I sold this car for about $10K, the one and only time I ever made money (well, ignoring the costly maintenance expense) on an automobile.
I don’t get it, never have. A slow expensive to fix car with manual roll down windows that costs a fortune to fix, which is used as a taxi in other parts of the world. I’ve take any American land barge, or something along the lines of an old Toyota Cressida instead.
That’s because you like to drive in straight lines mostly ~ the M-B will easily run away from your choices in any non straight driving situation ~ I often take my old Mercedes’ on Road Rallies for the AC and have quite a bit of fun out running the Sports Cars and V-8’s in the twisty bits .
yes , they all run away from me accelerating but that’s the shortest time part of any driving….
Probably no one will see this reply, but my 240D could corner at max grip dead stable, with no bad habits and totally forgiving in nature. My 300 ZX had higher limits but almost killed me more than once.
That’s what I’m talking about ~ .
They may be slow but they handle like they’re on rails going down hill =8-) .
I wasn’t even driving age when this was new, So I shouldn’t be in the “Cadillac” demographic. But even nearly 40 years ago I wanted the Seville, Still would take that Caddy over a MB that could barely take a Chevette at a light!
One should consider the times of the 1970’s when this car was on sale.
The “luxury sport coupe” was extremely popular, 2 door cars were desired by SO many of us, 4 doors were for old people and family guys.
The slow power windows were there because of some German rule requiring this speed.
The Air Conditioning (or lack thereof) system was a shortcoming for every German car of the 1970’s that I rode or drove in. BMW models were just as bad, if not worse.
Of all the model years and specs of the /8 coupe you’ve picked the worst one, Paul. All of the wide grille, large door mirror, self-cleaning tail light disimprovement (at least visually, of course it’s beneficial to safety) of the ’73 facelift with all of the safety dance bumper and sealed beam ugliness of the US-spec. The early Euro spec models on the other hand look absolutely fantastic to me with their clean, straight lines and big cruiser proportions (for European standards at the time), especially once you introduce a little rake.
And I have to disagree with you on the greenhouse. The lower roofline blends in with the car quite nicely, and it actually gives it sort of a factory chopped look. The W123 coupe on the other hand has a roof that’s a bit too bubbly for its body, with a weirdly curving beltline on the side windows and rain gutters the size of Seattle.
In the last couple of years (2014-2016) I have come across & owned several MB 2 door cars and liked them all for their strong points; 1988 560SL, 1988 560 SEC, 1995 320E convertible (and a BMW M3 six speed). They all ran great but I can’t keep them all. However the one I owned before any of them and I can’t seem to get enough of Is my 1984 230CE Coupe with factory 4 speed power, Air and Sunroof. The Gray market car was brought over in 1984, runs beautiful and a joy to drive. 18 mpg city 28 Hwy, fast an ’84 380SL (less than 1 Sec. Difference in 1/4 mile). It uses the same updated fuel injected 2.3 motor as the Euro 190E sedan in the 80s.
The C208 rims look great on the W123; yours is the second one I’ve seen them fitted to. Very sharp car overall!
Thank you Chris, I went from 14″ wheels to 16″ wheels and a wide tire with shorter sidewalls, it helped the ride & handling too. I am still thinking about lowering it just alittle
” I am still thinking about lowering it just a little”
Unless you live on the race track beware of lowering ~ I have to change my oil pan a few times a year , I never hear it scrape but I’ll notice a few oil droplets in the driveway and sure enough the oil pan pixies have been at it again and right near the drain plug it’s all scarped and paper thin again…..
I’d never , _EVER_ abuse my beloved Diesel Sports Coupe so I have NO IDEA how this happens , just a heads up .
Good point, I need to ck g clearance, I don’t live on “the Track”. I take care of this on but I can’t help but drive the M3 6 speed pretty hard.
Replying to an old post here but I have to say…
That there is THE CAR. Awesome.
I found it, knew I would never see another sporty old school coupe with this equipment. I called the importing dealer in 2015 30 years after they sold it and they knew instantly what car I had; said it was the most unique equipped Merceds they ever imported. That dealership serviced the car until the owner sold it and it found its way to my Garage.
I have had more expensive and faster cars but it is so cool in person I back out every time someone try’s to get me to sell it. Look at the factory specs in this photo.
1984 coupe with 4 speed interior, comfortable.
Thanx Robert ;
I’ve run across several four cylinder W123 Coupes , I always wondered if the engine was too small for such a large & heavy car .
I have the Diesel version and love it , converted it to European Spec. and run the snot out of it .
Hello Nate! Like a BMW rarity & value are largely determined by the factory installed options/equipment. For a 230 Gray market car the rarest thing would be air conditioning followed by power windows and sunroof then manual over auto trans. A clean Coupe with a four speed trans and AIR, will always find a buyer. And the w123 Coupe is rising in value ( Hemming’s Motor News). NOW for a tip on knowing how virtually any car performs with any factory equipment I always use “http://www.automobile-catalog.com”. You can look up and compair any car to one you are familiar with and the site will tell you and show you how other cars preform against your car. It’s a blast, I use it all the time – try it!
That’s funny, I have the same exact color combination. Haven’t seen any others like it.
I have mixed feeling about this car vs the 1st Gen Seville. The MB had a far better looking interior and the Mercedes vinyl used on the seats was top notch and practically indestructible.
On the other hand the Mercedes US spec bumpers look horrible, The Seville’s bumpers were much better integrated. The inline six while reliable lacked anything resembling power. Rust was a huge problem on these cars, the front valance, rocker panels and trunk were especially vulnerable. The truck also had a tendency to fill with water.
Don’t forget the crap air conditioning; these Benzes were to A/C what old Bugs were to heating. The Seville actually kept you cool and then some.
Don’t forget the crap air conditioning; these Benzes were to A/C what old Bugs were to heating.
Well, I would have to disagree with you since we had a 1977 450 SEL with manual HVAC. We lived in Dallas, Texas where the summer heat can reach 100°-105°F, and our 450 SEL had no problem keeping us cool.
My father in law has a share in a business near us. There’s a garage on the property that has one of these coupes that’s been parked up on stands for maybe 30 years. I’ve asked on more than one occasion to buy it from the business, but no one knows who owns it and there aren’t any number plates on it so we haven’t got any further in identifying the owner. Maybe one day I’ll get lucky!
The M110 was never sold here with K-Jetronic in W114/W115 because it won’t fit- the manifold setup is too wide. The bay is very narrow in these cars. D-Jet was used on the Euro 280CE, but the six cylinder D-Jet was never certified for the US, only the V8s. The W123 has K-Jet like the W116 280SE.
The M110 is a perplexing engine. It sounds good and revs well, especially in Euro spec version. But it’s out of character compared to most every other older Benz motor… and I’m not enough of an engineer to understand what it does with gas, because it burns it like it has a leak. I currently own a 1982 500SE with the Euro V8, 230hp m117. Used to have a 1983 280SE with the 185 hp M110. The V8 is MUCH quicker, feels like the King of the Autobahn when it’s whooshing along at 100 mph at 3000 rpm with its 2.24 diff.
The M110 is acceptable, in the big w126, but it’s not stellar even in Euro spec. At 100 mph it’s around 4400 revs because they used a 3.46 diff to keep it feeling lively at lower speeds. Here’s the kicker: these cars are identical except for power plant. Same body, same wheelbase. So it’s a valid comparison… and the M110 is thirstier than the 5.0 V8!
Both get around 13 mpg around town, the 6 gets 18 mpg on the highway at 75-80 mph while I usually get 19-20 in the V8. There is a reason I don’t have the M110 w126 anymore…