・Fully restored, including mechanicals, bodywork and interior.
・Collector’s 280E model, with rare full black leather.
・Only four owners from new.
・Dry stored and running beautifully.
In 1976 Mercedes-Benz introduced what became one of the German auto maker’s most revered models. The 200-280 series, code named the W123. A code which in itself has become a bit of a hallowed moniker.
From launch, the new model was in serious high demand, with around 2.7 million eventually sold worldwide. The dependable executive, with 30 variants of saloons, estates, coupes and limousines. Their famed reliability will happily take them to galactic levels of mileage, which is no doubt why so many made the ideal workhorse, adorning taxi ranks around the world.
Up until the newer W124 was phased in, the W123 went through a face lift in 1980 and further updates in 1982, introducing more efficient engines and better rustproofing. This tends to make these later models the more desirable youngtimer, in the classic car market. The W123 is widely regarded as the end of the ‘proper’ quality-built Mercedes, which has firmly secured their collectable status.
As a brief decipher on the model numbers, at the lower end of the scale, the 200 indicates a 2-litre engine, a 2.2-litre in the 220, a 2.4-litre in the 240, right up to the range topping 300 model. The following letter gives you further information concerning the body style and engine. So a ‘C’ model is a coupe, a ‘T’ being a Tourismus und Transport (or estate to those who don’t speak the lingo) and then the standard saloon was actually without any letter at all. Finally, models with a ‘D’ were unsurprisingly diesels and an ‘E’ gave you electronic ignition.
Which brings us to this 280E example we have here. As decoded, it has a 2.8-litre engine with electronic ignition lurking underneath the stunning white exterior. The collectable 280E has been noted as the one to have, as it provides a great all-round mix of power, economy (read that relatively) and reliability.
First registered in August 1983, this 280E has remarkably only had four owners to date and has a modest 124,000 miles. At an average of a little over 3000 miles per year, it has led a relatively sheltered life, having been dry stored for many years and undergone a full restoration nearly 10 years ago.
The restoration of A830 EAJ was undertaken by W123 specialist Mark Cosovich of ‘W123 World’ in 2012. Work included a full mechanical restoration, any bodywork corrosion issues corrected before undergoing a full repaint in a Mercedes-Benz paint shop, to the tune of £5000. The restoration notes state that anything showing signs of wear or age were replaced and remaining components including the subframes, being powder-coated for preservation and longevity.
The current owner bought the car in 2012, following the extensive restoration and has retained the wonderful condition of the car. It remains in dry storage and has only covered around 1000 miles per year, during his ownership.
During this latest period, it has been used on a few occasions as a wedding car, a role it naturally suits, with its beautiful white bodywork and classy full black leather interior. While the owner is a long-term Mercedes enthusiast, unfortunately owing to a number of other cars in his collection, it is time for the W123 to move onto its next chapter.
There is no escaping the fact that this 280E is a little sparse on documentation, however there are some notes and records of key work undertaken, including specifics on the restoration. The V5 is present showing its low ownership and a current MOT valid until August of this year.
Accompanying the car is a book entitled ‘Mercedes-Benz W123 – The Finest Saloon Car of the 20th Century?’. The book features A830 EAJ within its pages, mentioning the current owner and the specification of the car. A charming keepsake and verification of this admired example of the W123.
As previously mentioned, the full black leather throughout the car is one of the rarer options, which was requested and sourced at the time of the restoration. A superb upgrade from its original blue cloth, we’re sure you’ll agree. It really does work so well with the beautiful white exterior of the bodywork, to give the whole package a truly executive feel. The condition of the leather front and rear is excellent, with no notable wear and tear in typical high traffic areas like bolsters or edges.
Overall, the interior is near faultless, with no obvious signs of wear, cracking in the dash or fading from the sun. Surely confirmation that the dry storage has served this 280E very well.
The chrome and wood trim which accent the leather upholstery work in unison to provide an attractive place to be, whether driving or being driven. Again, the trim, switches and controls are all in great condition throughout the car, and apart from the heated rear screen (suspected fuse) and one interior light (possibly bulb) currently not working, everything else works as it should.
The sliding sunroof opens and closes with ease, as do all the electric windows, with no slow movement.
A particular favourite period feature of ours is the charming Pioneer tape deck in the centre console.
The eye-catching exterior is a beautiful period white with chrome features and fixtures, including the famed large front grille. As you walk around the outside of the car there are no unsightly dents, only very minor marking here and there as expected for its age, and even the usual stone chips on the front edge of the bonnet and bumper are very few in number.
A few areas for improvement on the bodywork include some small bubbling underneath the paint, low down on a couple of valance corners / rear wing. Nothing that couldn’t be rectified with relative ease.
Moving underneath the car, there’s further evidence of the car having benefitted from a sheltered life in dry storage. There is very little surface corrosion on the underside, in keeping with the maintenance and restoration given to this W123. A look at the underside confirms both the restoration notes and the current owner’s maintenance work, including new shock absorbers, various replacement parts and hoses and most recently, two new drive shafts, prop shaft doughnut and relatively new tyres.
On the subject of tyres, the accommodating steel wheels and chrome embellishers were subject to attention during the restoration and as such present extremely well all-round.
As previously mentioned, the restoration included a full mechanical overhaul, where the axles were removed, the braking system renewed, and many other replacement parts added, including exhaust, tyres, battery, radiator, fuel pump, ball joints, roll bar mountings and the list goes on and on.
The result is that the powerful 2.8-litre engine starts eagerly and settles to a beautifully refined tick-over. The automatic gearbox selects the gears with reassuring confirmation felt by the driver, before moving off swiftly. The larger 280E engine makes for a quick car and cruising at modern motorway speeds is a relaxed affair. The refreshed suspension further adds to the levels of comfort. These higher end W123s would happily take you on a road trip across the country or on into Europe.
With the large bonnet fully raised, the engine and ancillaries present as honest and regularly serviced, with only minimal signs of age-related surface corrosion. The current owner has maintained servicing and any repairs requiring attention. The engine starts without drama, is strong and smooth on the move and shuts off without any concerning noises.
The W123 is without doubt a collector’s car and better still is that the 280E model is regarded as the sensible choice to seek out. This one is no exception. The restorative work has ensured it will continue its reputation of mile-munching reliability, for many years to come.
On the move, the drive confirms it is a special car from a peak period of Mercedes-Benz. Match that with its fantastic bright paintwork and contrasting full leather interior and you have one truly class act.
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