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  #31  
Old 12-03-2001, 02:08 PM
Randall Kress
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Correct me if I'm wrong, the W114/5 (stroke 8s) cars did ride lower, as with all Mercs of that era. But they also had a different rear end set-up. Where the 116/123 generation cars have semi-trailiing arms in the rear, the prior ranges had swing axles with compensation springs. My guess would be these cars were prone to jacking? Am I wrong here
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  #32  
Old 12-03-2001, 02:47 PM
Holson Adi's Avatar
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hhhm..
I really wouldn't think of the W123 as a potent handler..

I just love it as a classic that doesn't look flashy yet it's something i really like.

My mum enjoyed driving the W123 more than the W124..
They are both manuals.. the W123 had a 4-speed stick and the W124 has a 5-speed stick.

She doesn't know much about power, engines, etc..
but to her the W123 had more grunt and she loved driving it more than the W124..
she also loved it because people were more scared of the W123 as it looked like it was going to the junkyard... (though it was a perfectly nice sample i thought...)

The W123 was a 280E
the W124 was a 230E .... yeah.. i think it has the same engine as the W123 230E... so maybe it explains the power deficit.

Both are Euro spec engines.. so that 2.8L I-6 was quite something hehehe..if only my dad hadn't sold it..

Both rode on 16" wheels and some 55 profile tires.
205/55/16
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  #33  
Old 12-03-2001, 08:24 PM
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Randall:

Semi-trailing arms on rear suspension on W115s -- identical to W123 rear suspension. Maybe even the same parts! Ditto for the W126, just larger there.

The 1959 models had swing axles -- the large cars had a "tilting" differential with a spring and axle tubes, the small cars free axles with fixed differential and constant velocity joints. "Axle" located with straight trailing arms.

Pretty spiff for 1959 (along with the four wheel disk brakes!)

Zero offset front end came along in 1962, on a kingpin front "axle" setup, fully independent.

This means that MB used a semitrailing setup from 1968 to 1992, fully independent suspension from at least 1959, maybe longer.

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
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  #34  
Old 12-04-2001, 03:27 AM
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Thumbs up Definitely earlier than 59

I had a 1952 220 Cabriolet A (significantly older than I, BTW) it had 4 wheel independent suspension. The fun thing about it is that it was/is a pre-WWII wood framed body with long flowing fenders, landau bars & suicide doors, yet it had all the post war mechanicals independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, and the 6 cylinder OHC engine (basic architecture which remained in production all the way up through the 280 series cars). Actually cruised on the freeways at 80+ like a breeze!

RTH
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  #35  
Old 12-04-2001, 07:58 AM
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Larry is Right Again

Greetings All,

When first reading the post I just assumed it was concerning normal driving habits of the 123 chassis. It appears that someone wants rigid handling characteristics from a vehicle that wasn't designed for that purpose. Although my 123 is a wagon, totally different in handling I would assume than a sedan, on the worse side because of the wheel base as well as the added weight. Out of the three chassis designs I own I'd give handling more so to the 300E 124 series because it's shorter than my 126 and of course two years newer with design enhancements for handling improvements. I'm not saying it handles like a sports car, by no means but holds the road very well on the twisted hillsides we travel. Now, if I was late for work and speed and control of my vehicle were in dire need as well as sustaining an excess of 70mph speeds on curvy roads I'd take the '96 Ram 2500 with the V-10 to work. Although it's a truck, it's also a sports car in disguise because body roll doesn't exist and tires are your only weak link causing you to loose control by over driving your tires.
I hate to compare my Benz to a truck but I don't believe the folks back in the eighties that designed these Benz's were exactly looking to impress the younger generation with aggressive handling characteristics. The class of folks that could afford to buy them were most likely middle to upper class business folks that were looking for a comfortable ride for everyday use. As Larry puts it gettin groceries type of cars or long drives that still left you comfortable when you got to your destination.


Charles
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  #36  
Old 12-04-2001, 08:20 PM
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Charles:

At the risk of seeming negative, I fear you are greatly over-estimating the handling of you pickup and underestimating the handling of your MB sedans.

MB sedans have traditionally had handling characteristics more like sports cars than touring sedans. It is only in the last 15 or twenty years that typcial autos were safe above 60 mph. All the early 60's American cars I've driven have severe handling problems of one kind or another, and the 50's were much worse.

The MB philosophy was that the car should hold the road (whatever that means!) at any speed the engine could produce. Diesels are usually somewhat underpowered, so I don't anticipate getting into real trouble unless driving like an idiot in bad weather.

Pickups, on the other hand, have very flexible frames (watch the bed and cab move independently on rough roads!), funky springs, usually much too stiff for light loads, much too high a center of gravity, an unlocated rear axle, usually on leaf springs (read serious uncontrolled wheel hop), and serious understeer with no caster to speak of. The LAST vehicle I would take on a high speed run on winding roads would be a truck -- I see too many of them upside down along the road from flipping over when turned to sharp. Serious rollover hazard, exploding tires or not, and NO rollover protection.

Stick to the sedan if you are in a hurry -- you might be surprised at how fast it goes without fuss -- my 220D is more fun to drive, but the 300D actually handles better.

The major difference between the 123 and 124 sedans are multi-link rather than semi-trailing rear suspension and better ride on the 124. It doesn't give quite the warning of impending loss of control that the 123 does, otherwise very similar. The front end on the 124 is a McPherson strut with large caster and zero offset scrub, but that isn't all that much different than the 123.

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #37  
Old 12-04-2001, 09:20 PM
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No Peter, I'll take your older 123 with my truck

Greetings Peter,

Do you own a '96 Dodge Ram 2500 p/u with the special handling package? If you don't I guarantee I will not only take your older Benz off the line but will probably finish a cigarette five miles down the road before you arrive. I have never seen a truck handle like this one does. It has a heavy camper shell on the rear so as far as weight distribution goes, it's probably 40/60 as it sits. Unless you are a Ram owner, perhaps there is one on this sight, you would be amazed at the speed and agility that this truck will travel. The body or frame flex you speak about isn't present like you think in this Ram. Yes, my truck could make your Benz cry with it's handling ability. If in the the Lake Ozark area, look me up and bring your Benz and a 12 pack for the winner of a forty mile curvy bout.

Charles
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'84 300SD 256,000 Gold on Brown (Mileage Award)
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  #38  
Old 12-04-2001, 10:49 PM
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Charles:

Speed, yes, of course since you have at least three times the horsepower.

Agiligty? This I would have to see. No body roll doesn't mean good handling -- I'd have to see some comparison numbers for lateral acceleration, ability to change directions predictibly in a high speed turn (as when someone backs out of a drive in the middle of a steep curve and you are going too fast), etc, etc.

I know I can set the old 220D into a very nice four wheel drift on interstate ramps, I've never felt I was in trouble in it, and I've taken the back roads around here at 25 mph over the speed limit. I would not do this in a truck, sport package or not.

I do not wish to denigrate your truck, but it still has several serious suspension design items that will prevent very good to excelent handling -- live rear axle, low camber/large scrup radius front suspension, and excessively high center of gravity (unless you've tubbed it out!). These characteristics will limit lateral force development by excessive inside tire unloading (whether or not the body rolls much), incorrect camber on the rear tires, and excessive slip angle (understeer) on the front tires. It also wieghs considerably more than either of my MBs. The stiff tires help up to the point that slip angles get too great -- then you just grind rubber off.

My guess is that what you gain in acceleration, any good condition MB later than a 123 would gain in cornering ability. Slowing down for the turns will kill you overall speedwise, just like making an oops at the leeward bouy kills you in a sailboat race -- however fast you can accelerate, you've lost time. With the AMG package, there wouldn't be a contest, the MB would win hands down.

This is completely ignoring driver ability, and I'm the first to admit I'm not a race driver.

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #39  
Old 12-05-2001, 08:54 AM
LarryBible
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I won't state a pick up truck vs. sedan opinion one way or the other. But I do want to chime in with something I read in R & T a number of years ago.

The article was about pick ups and how many owners speak of their great handling trucks. It also showed statistics about handling related accidents with pick up trucks.

Most people who go racing down a winding country road in a pick up do it with the truck empty. Most people don't think about doing that while the truck is heavily loaded. While empty the vehicle typically has weight distribution imbalance that is unreal. Within certain limits, a good pick up can feel great. When you approach those limits, however, these flexiframe flyers with extremely unbalanced weight distribution can fool the best of drivers. At least that's what the statistics in the article showed.

When we started doing our highly unscientific surveys around the office, we found that everyone there told us how great their pickup truck handled. It wasn't two weeks after that when one of these guys put his pickup in a lake. He wasn't hurt physically, but I don't think he ever was able to live it down around the office.

BTW, MY PICKUP HANDLES GREAT!!!!

Sorry, just couldn't control myself,
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  #40  
Old 12-05-2001, 11:29 AM
PaulC
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RE: 3/4 ton pickup vs. W123

I love this thread.

I'm sure that on a billiard table-smooth road, you can hustle a Ram 2500 along at a good pace, just as I am sure you could in a Hemi-powered Conestoga wagon. Now try the same exercise on a road that has a rough or rippled surface on its curves. I believe you'll find that the rock-hard spring rates, front-biased weight distribution and high unsprung weight will conspire to put you butt-first into the weeds long before a w123 driver will break a sweat. My daily driver is a Ford Expedition, so I'm well aware of the improvements made in light truck handling over the last 10 years. However, I also know that our old 190E 2.3 could run away and hide from it on the road surface described above!

Don't confuse flat cornering with good all-around handling.
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  #41  
Old 12-05-2001, 01:05 PM
Randall Kress
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This actually hits home...

I've gotten into a lot of run-ins on the road with pickup/SUVs. I can't tell you how many times, I've had to RUN AWAY from these nieanderthals on the road due to some careless gesture/remark/course of action. And I must say, the 123 never fails. My 300D has embarrassed many a car, no less pickup! Some notable contenders were: Cadillac Escalade, Yukon Denali, Dodge Ram, Jeep (every kind) and lately, a Doge Ram (number, I'm not sure). Now clearly, the truck in question the v10 Ram is a Viper with big wheels (if I'm not mistaken). The trucks I've run from were not street trucks, but truck-trucks! Well, the 123 can handle the truck-trucks. On any on-road situation!
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  #42  
Old 12-05-2001, 06:45 PM
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This is an awesome thread!

We are getting closer to the issues that distinguish good handling from not so good, or poor, handling in a vehicle.

German roads in the 50's, 60's, 70's and later were not all autobahn like strips of slightly curved, very smooth pavement. In fact, if you were in a city you likely often drove on cobblestone roads, with streetcar tracks crossing, and very little manuevering room between parked cars and other objects. In these circumstances a tight turning circle and a suspension system that kept the tires in contact with the road were considered high priorities. In the country, if you happened to be driving somewhere that did not have an autobahn exit nearby (which was most of the country, and most of Europe, at the time), you were going to drive on roads that were narrow, winding, with farm equipment, and other peculiar trucks that struggled to get up hills and around curves. You were also likely to want to go throught the Alps on some really challenging roads on the way to Italy and Yugoslavia (yeah, I know it is called something else now), both favorite German areas for vacationing in late July and early August. Here the need for brakes that did not fade, and a suspension that kept the tires in contact with the road (a concept Mercedes-Benz engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut coined to differentiate the Mercedes-Benz suspension design characteristics from those used on American and English luxury cars of the time, which would appear to be to smooth the road at the expense of control) was clearly a priority.

So when I say a W123 is a good handling car, it is because it is endowed with features that in its day were pretty exotic, like light weight, stamped steel semi-trailing arms, various aluminum bits and so on for low unsprung mass, four wheel independent suspension, gas filled shocks, anti-dive and anti-squat geometry, roll bars front and rear, four wheel disc brakes, radial tires, exceedingly stiff chassis, and so on. Together these features combine to provide a balance of handling characteristics that in the real world, driving down a mountain road with patched pavement and the occasional fallen rocks on the roadway and a slow moving truck just behind a curve you are taking at twice his speed, allow you to maintain control and safely respond to unexpected events. This makes driving a pleasure, in my experience.

Today you will find even cheap econoboxes with some or most of the hardware. They even seem to handle ok under most conditions, and in some cases good enough to encourage some drivers to push their limits. But under really trying conditions they typically give notice they have run out of margin too late. The integration of the hardware and the chassis to achieve the level of "performance" Mercedes achieved even with the W114/115 chassis is something these cookie cutter cars have yet to achieve.

That said, I think a W123 would have a difficult time on a track compared to most cars offered today, even the cheap econoboxes and pick-ups. But in real life situations it is no contest. I think that applies to trucks too, as I cannot imagine a truck, with a truck rear axle arrangement, keeping its tires on the pavement over bumps and curves going down a hill where the weight shifts forward even more. As for torsional stiffness, a ladder frame with a box screwed to the top just won't duplicate the W114/115, much less the W123 or W124 chassis. I am not a pick-up truck afficionado, but I have not heard of a unibody pick-up chassis and box. Could be the RAM has that but with an open box, hinged tailgate and screwed on, or pinned cap, it still won't come close to a unibody sedan like the W123.

I would find an unloaded pickup with a 40/60 weight distribution (front 40%, rear 60%) seriously impractical as loaded (for a V-10 powered machine, put a ton in the bed, for example) it would go to over 20/80, and that would be a true handling oddity. Even a 40/60 ratio unloaded would be a problem as the tendency would be to ignore the front wheel attempts to change the whole vehicle's direction when the steering wheel was turned on anything but smooth, dry pavement.

I think some of the tippiness of the the W123 puts some drivers off when the opportunity or need to push the car is presented. The tippiness is a consequence of the goal to provide a smooth ride under normal driving conditions. Once you start to push the car, it does not continue to roll over at the same rate - it takes a set and becomes very predictable. After you get to know this, the car can be pushed quite hard, and driven in a manner that is fun as well as comfortable and controlled.

Jim
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1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

Owned:
1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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  #43  
Old 12-05-2001, 10:27 PM
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Well said, Jim:

If you really want a scare, go find a middle 50's sedan and drive it on a twisty road. You know those silly "15 mph" curve signs for curves you normally take at 35? Guess why it says 15!

American cars didn't achieve decent driving characteristics until the late 80s, by and large. Up till then horrendous understeer complicated by serious body roll oversteer (when the inside rear tire came off the road!) was the norm. Step on the brakes and the rear end switched places, as the front end slammed down on the bump stops and the rear tires locked up. Yikes!

Everything today, including pickups, is vastly better. I don't know of any car produced in the last ten years that had any serious handling defficiencies. Not great, maybe, but no "jesus, I'm flying" sorts of defects.

What has happened, of course, is that the MB standard is being applied to everything, not just MB sedans and sports cars.

I've yet to make the tires squeal on my MBs -- just don't seem to have the urge like I used to, and it just never seems to happen, no matter how hard I have to corner in a surprise right angle turn. I've never slid the tires stopping, either (can't on the 300D). The amount of side force these things can generate without protest is amazing -- I'm sure my sister avoided a collision (got hit by flying debris) because she flinched and jerked the wheel in the 300TE -- actually jumped over about 4 feet. My brother and I duplicated the manouver in the car later -- snap the wheel over and back up like one would when one ducks, and the car moved over half a lane!

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #44  
Old 12-05-2001, 11:34 PM
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snow and ice handling

psfred mentioned that snow and ice handling with the diesels is bad due to too much torque. Not long after I bought my 123 diesel, i accidentally hit the cruise lever when reaching for the directionals to change lanes on a highway going 60mph in a snow storm!!!! It took me about 5 seconds to figure out what the hell was going on!!! It felt like aliens were taking me away....some other force was controlling the vehicle while I hung on for the ride doing my best to control it......fun ride!!
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  #45  
Old 11-22-2008, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimSmith View Post
This is an awesome thread!


So when I say a W123 is a good handling car, it is because it is endowed with features that in its day were pretty exotic, like light weight, stamped steel semi-trailing arms, various aluminum bits and so on for low unsprung mass, four wheel independent suspension, gas filled shocks, anti-dive and anti-squat geometry, roll bars front and rear, four wheel disc brakes, radial tires, exceedingly stiff chassis, and so on. Together these features combine to provide a balance of handling characteristics that in the real world, driving down a mountain road with patched pavement and the occasional fallen rocks on the roadway and a slow moving truck just behind a curve you are taking at twice his speed, allow you to maintain control and safely respond to unexpected events. This makes driving a pleasure, in my experience.


Jim
I think you nailed it right there, Jim.

The only thing I couldn't find mention of in this thread was the match between the differential and the turning radius. It seems related to oversteer since the car is being pushed at a different trajectory, but on slow turns that should not normally impose a loss of traction, I have noticed that giving the car a good push from behind when turning at close to max radius causes slippage in the front end.

Is this a design flaw?
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