Thread: Late 123 vs 116
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Old 10-13-2004, 04:20 AM
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The Warden The Warden is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pacifica (SF Bay Area), CA
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Question Late 123 vs 116


My '85 300D has served me very well over the last 2 years I've had her. However, this does not mean that she's without her issues. I'm listing the known issues below (and yes I'm being nit-picky; without this list, this car would be perfect):
  • The front end needs work; at the very least, I need to replace the guide rod mounts, and the front end could probably use a complete rebuild. I've got a groaning noise from the front end sometimes when the suspension moves; it might be a ball joint on it's last legs, or could be the left front shock.
  • There's a dent by the driver's rear door that extends into the quarter panel; I think it's already been repaired as best as possible, but it still makes the left side of the car look bad.
  • The a/c compressor died about 2 months ago, possibly (probably) contaminating the whole system and requiring a complete flush-out (and probably replace all rubber hoses)...BUT, other than that, the ACC works properly.
  • Both front seats (leather, not MB-Tex ) are in pretty bad shape; I don't know if they can be saved. In addition, the leather on the center armrest has been completely destroyed. The rear seats aren't pristine, but are in decent shape.
  • The headliner, although intact, sags and I'm worried about an accidental rip ruining it altogether. Best I can tell, the only way to fix it "right" involves pulling the rear window.
  • The paint on the hood is bad enough that it needs to be redone. Given that I think the driver's rear door and rear quarter panel need to be replaced to truly make that dent go away, this would mean eventually re-painting the whole car.
  • The air cleaner mount on the engine is broken, and I've come to the conclusion that replacing the stock bracket with another one is a waste of time and $$, so I either get to live with the obnoxious noise or get a cone filter.
  • The oil cooler hoses are starting to leak slowly; they need to be replaced before too long.
  • Cruise control doesn't work.
I think that's all of the issues; otherwise, everything works.

Now, as I mentioned in another thread, some dingbat traded in a '79 300SD for a Toyota a dealership that a friend of mine's step-father works at. AFAIK, this car's in good shape (don't know details) and has 175K or so on the odometer. Apparently, the car's going to stay on the lot for a very short period of time before going off to wholesale.

The issues with my car aren't anywhere near enough to make me actively want to get rid of her, but I have been idly wanting to upgrade to a 126 for the extra interior space. I know that the 116 interior is more like a 123 than a 126, although I don't know about space differences. To be honest, I don't have a particular interest in a 116, but the gears in my head started grinding and I realized that this may be an opportunity.

Now, I don't know all that much about the 116 body, but I'm guessing that it's more complicated than the 123. The ACC setup, from what little I've heard, sounds like something to be fearful about if it ever fails, and I assume that the 116 will have a 3.07 differential gear ratio (as opposed to the 2.88's on my 123), meaning that highway fuel economy will suffer somewhat (although that's balanced by the lack of an EGR setup). Also, IIRC, most 116 300SD's didn't come with a passenger's side mirror. Is that something that can be retrofitted? Would, for instance, a 123 mirror assembly work?

Now for the big question...if it were up to you, which of the two would you choose, and why? I haven't seen the 116 for myself, but from what my friend said, let's assume for the purpose of this question that the 116 is mechanically sound and in good shape. One thing to keep in mind is that I'm a starving college student and my 123 is my daily driver (and, were I to get the 116, it would replace the 123 as my DD) and I really need to keep downtime to a minimum. My 123 has 260K miles on her now, meaning that I've put on about 20K miles per year (and this is about average). I'm reluctant to consider giving up my 123 (although she doesn't get as much love and atention as she deserves), but if the mileage on the 116 is accurate and everything really is in good shape, it seems like it'd be worth it to upgrade to a larger vehicle with 85K fewer miles, unless there's something I'm missing...

So, any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
2001 VW Jetta TDI, 5 speed, daily driver
1991 Ford F-350, work in progress
1984 Ford F-250 4x4, 6.9l turbo diesel, 5 speed manual
Previous oilburners: 1980 IH Scout, 1984 E-350, 1985 M-B 300D, 1979 M-B 300SD, 1983 M-B 300D
Spark-free since 1999
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