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  #1  
Old 10-13-2004, 04:20 AM
The Warden's Avatar
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Location: Pacifica (SF Bay Area), CA
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Question Late 123 vs 116

Hello!

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 Echo...at 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!

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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
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  #2  
Old 10-13-2004, 05:58 AM
MS Fowler's Avatar
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Warden,
Good luck with this choice; its the kind of situation that can eat you up--if you let it.
You didn't mention RUST-----I think I'd make that the prime consideration. A clean body eliminates many problems--and their expenses.
You know most of the arguments. The 123 is a bit newer design, but your particular car has enough "issues" to make the 116 very attractive.
The good thing is that both are excellent cars; one may be slightly better in your situation, but I can't help more tha that.
One more thing---Once you make the decision---DON'T LOOK BACK. And don't let anyone else nag you about " You shoulda done____". That kind of stuff is just poison. Make the best decision you can, consider as many factors as possible and go for it.

ps. How plentiful are W116 cars in your area?---Do you pull parts from junkyards--does that factor in to your decision. ( In my area, while W123 cars are not exactly plentiful in the junkyards, W116 and !26 are rare.
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  #3  
Old 10-13-2004, 06:15 AM
The Warden's Avatar
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Absolutely correct re: the rust...I learned that lesson with my first diesel. I haven't seen the car, but my friend described it as being clean, and if the car's originally a CA car, he's probably right. I wouldn't even consider it without going over the car with a fine-tooth comb, though. I actually meant to put that in the original post, but I guess it slipped my mind.

Junkyards around here tend to not have much in the way of Benzes at all. Last time I went to one, I saw two 123's, a 116, a 108 that was just about completely picked through, and a 201 (190D 2.5l with a 5 speed; I was when I saw that, especially since the body was in good shape)...and those were the only M-B's there.

OTOH, junkyards around here are lacking in general (in selection as well as in existing in the first place)...real hard to find an '80-'86 Ford pickup as well; been looking for a tailgate to no avail for a while now... *sigh*
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  #4  
Old 10-13-2004, 07:50 AM
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116s have a bit of reputation for rusting away. They are gorgeous cars, and if sorted they are wonderful. Most people report mileage in 26-28 range and I believe that they don't have emissions controls to worry about - at least I don't think 78-79 do, not sure about 80. There weren't too many of them transported here, and generally are considered to handle better than the 126s. I seriously was considering one, but I didn't see any in good shape for sale, and the 126s are so much more readily available in my area that I went with that.
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  #5  
Old 10-13-2004, 08:34 AM
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I love my '79 W116 300SD, comfy, nimble for such a large heavy car.

Wider and longer than the 123 but faster. If its not rusted out you will love it.

They have no other issues that the earlier 123 chassis doesn't have. Battery is behind passenger side headlight not firewall.

Has the same Climate control system the early 123 cars used , for what the advantages/disadvantages to that are.
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  #6  
Old 10-13-2004, 12:20 PM
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Only complaint about my 116 is rear leg room. It is probably similar to your 123 in that department. Then again, I think the SWB 126 probably has the same in the rear. That's why I'd LOVE to put my diesel engine in a 116 SEL body. 116's don't have the guide-rods that the 123 and 126 have, so that's one less thing to worry about there. Also, they don't have EGR valves on them. Try to find a '78-'79 because those are the ones that have the 125mph speedometer and the idle adjustment knob next to the wheel, though cold starts aren't a problem for you. Also, the '80's don't seem to have as many sunroofs as the earilier ones did, don't know why. Maybe it was standard until then, that's just what I've heard and even noticed. Also, the 116 steering wheel is a little more fancier, compare the two and you'll see what I mean and EVERYTHING in the 116 is padded on the interior and EVERYTHING is chrome, or chrome trimmed. Take the time to look at the interior, and take it in. It's cool to see the amount of detail out into it.
Thanks
David
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Old 10-13-2004, 07:22 PM
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I own a 116, and a 123 sedan and 123 wagon. The handling is great on all three cars. The 116 is a VERY nimble car for it's size, weight, and age. I don't think you'll suffer any more than a 1-3 mpg difference in fuel economy.

I MUCH prefer the interior styling and layout of my 116 over the 123, but this is a matter of personal taste, of course.

The ACC is the same as any 78-80 era Mercedes, meaning that it's the notoriously sketchy Chrysler-type servo-controlled design. Works GREAT when it works, but the servos are prone to failure and are expensive. I've seen an electronic servo replacement unit for sale recently ( http://www.************************/ProductPage.aspx?ProductName=Digital+AC+Servo+Upgrade+Kit&productid=109850&producttype=20 ), but I have no experience installing or using one yet, so I can't vouch for them.

I also enjoy the fact that the 116 body cars are far less common than the 123....I see TONS of 123 cars around metro Atlanta, but 116s are few and far-between.

If the 116 is actually in the condition you describe, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Mike
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Last edited by mikemover; 10-13-2004 at 07:31 PM.
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  #8  
Old 10-13-2004, 09:01 PM
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A replacement /upgrade solution.......great. How did you find that? Thats the first time I saw that. Hell a year ago I would have tried it. But I replaced the AMP, Servo and Aux water pump with new parts last fall. And it will keep those parts as long as they work.
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Proud owner of ....
1971 280SE W108
1979 300SD W116
1983 300D W123
1975 Ironhead Sportster chopper
1987 GMC 3/4 ton 4X4 Diesel
1989 Honda Civic (Heavily modified)
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"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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  #9  
Old 10-13-2004, 10:44 PM
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The W116 SD has a 3.07 rear.

I've yet to see the daily driven W116 that doesn't need seat pads after 15 years. They're not cheap to replace but maybe you can get creative with upholstery store materials.

If push comes to shove with the ACC, you can swap in the manual AC system of a 73-75 W116. It'll take downtime you don't have.

If your car has first gear start, you'll have to get used to second gear start in the SD.

Sixto
95 S420
87 300SDL
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  #10  
Old 10-13-2004, 11:42 PM
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Take a look at the other thread for details, but I decided that it wasn't worth sacrificing my 123 over, so I decided to pass.

Sixto, I believe you on it having a 3.07 rear end, but it's odd that the speedo showed the max speed in 3rd as being about 75mph...which is identical to what it shows on my 123. Like I said, odd...
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  #11  
Old 10-14-2004, 02:31 AM
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They probably didn't redo the speedo dots which, by the way, indicate the max speed at which you can manually downshift, not the max speed for the gear. Pedal to the kickdown switch, the SDL speedo pointer will swing past the dots. An Italian tune-up of the SDL includes doing over 80mph in 3rd. Or so I've heard The 3 dots are at 80mph.

Sixto
95 S420
87 300SDL
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  #12  
Old 10-14-2004, 11:15 AM
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Location: Northern Calif. (Fairfield Area)
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Warden,
I don't have time to read all the posts, but my advice after 30 years experience and having owned hundreds of MBs is to keep the 123 and look for a nice 126. The 116s were nice comfortable cars and still in demand, but you can pick up a good 126 for cheap right now in the Bay Area. We don't have any rust problems out here unless you live in Pacifica so that isn't an issue. I wouldn't even spend any money to fix the 123. I'd sell it as is after the acquistion of the 126. As a side note, the 116 is wider than the 126 inside. The 126 was designed for low drag in the wind. I have about 5 126s now and I really think they are well designed except for the cowl area at the bottom of the windshield. There is a sign there in many languages that tells all the leaves in the world that this is the place to gather.

Peter
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  #13  
Old 10-14-2004, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixto
The W116 SD has a 3.07 rear.

I've yet to see the daily driven W116 that doesn't need seat pads after 15 years. They're not cheap to replace but maybe you can get creative with upholstery store materials.

If push comes to shove with the ACC, you can swap in the manual AC system of a 73-75 W116. It'll take downtime you don't have.

If your car has first gear start, you'll have to get used to second gear start in the SD.

Sixto
95 S420
87 300SDL
My pads are perfect, but then I have no idea if a PO replaced them.

__________________
Proud owner of ....
1971 280SE W108
1979 300SD W116
1983 300D W123
1975 Ironhead Sportster chopper
1987 GMC 3/4 ton 4X4 Diesel
1989 Honda Civic (Heavily modified)
---------------------
Section 609 MVAC Certified
---------------------
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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