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  #1  
Old 06-01-2002, 09:54 PM
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Smile Rants about the 123.

I know that we all love our 123 diesels, but there are some things on this car that could be done a bit better. Don't get me wrong, I love my car, but I just felt like listing the few things that I found are kind of cheesy on the 123's.

- Door map pockets are cheap looking
- Climate control overcomplexity (I'm sure we can all agree...)
- Door frame molding tends to wrinkle up. MB changed this to thicker plastic on the 1986+ W126 and on W124
- The inside of the trunk lids look cheap and sounds like a tin can
- Glove box doors rarely line up properly
- Front seatback pockets sag and look terrible if anything is ever put in them.
- Old style vacuum lock system. The W126 has a much more advanced system, allowing locking and unlocking of all the doors from the trunk and passenger side.

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  #2  
Old 06-01-2002, 10:26 PM
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The wrinkled door window trim can be removed and looks great with body color showing through (first thing I do when I get a W123). I agree about the door pockets.

The seat pockets are an easy fix by pulling taught after removing seat back. The trunk issue relates to the light weight of the lid which greatly enhances handling (given height and distance from center) which I have always liked as it along with vault-like door closing set these cars apart from others of the era. (think about the size/weight/design of the typical american car made in 1976).

Nothings perfect and nothing last forever, but like Frank Barrett once said about the W124 ACCs, "its just part of the price of the excellence of the rest of the car."
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2008 GL320CDI 6K
1970 280SL 112K
1982 240D 210K (Sold)
1973 220D 220K (Sold)
1967 200D 160K (Sold)
1992 400E 139K (Sold)
1988 300E 148K (Sold)
1987 300D 257K (Sold)
1991 300E 108K (Sold)
1987 300E 131K (Sold)
1978 300D TMU (Sold)
1980 300D TMU (Sold)
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  #3  
Old 06-01-2002, 10:43 PM
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I'll tell you what sucks - the POS seats Mercedes put in these cars! I can't think of enough explatives to explain how bad the seats are. My lower back achs as I speak from the absolute lack of support in ANY area in these seats. I have griped about this before, and some people actually say they think these seats are not bad. You can't say the bad design is because of the vintage of the car, because, for example, Saab was installing large, supportive, comfortable, heated seats in their cars of the same vintage (and older). I don't understand why Mercedes wasn't doing the same. I would love to swap something better in, but the seatbelt mounts to the seat, so I worry about swapping in a non-factory designed seat.

Greg
'84 300D
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2002, 10:49 PM
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Greg, would you be more specific about what your seat does not do for you ? Do you mean the bottom has sagged ? or does not spring ? or ? , Greg
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2002, 08:35 AM
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I wish they had the a/c system of a late model Ford pickup .
Greg - I have often thought of going to an aftermarket seat - Recaro comes to mind.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2002, 09:25 AM
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Engatwork,What type of ac is that which you like ? I am going to have to choose and install some ground up systems for farm equipment ( ironically a 1954 ford f500 is one ) and would like to know what features cause you to like the late ford system... and what years are we talking about ? after when ? Greg
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  #7  
Old 06-02-2002, 10:29 AM
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Leathermang: If you are building a system from the ground up, I would highly recolmmend talking to the people at www.ackits.com. They will have all the parts you need, and are capable of fabricating the parts you need made special for your truck. Furthermore, since I have [unfortunately] had to educate myself on automotive a/c, I know that a very highly respected compressor out there is named a "Diesel Kiki." Another very popular compressor is made by Sanded, although the Diesel Kiki is better from what I have heard.

Make sure you pick up one of the universal parallel-flow condensors from ackits.com, they are cheaper than anything you can buy at a parts store or junkyard, they come in various sizes, and they are designed for r-134a, which I assume you plan on using.

Good luck,

Greg
'84 300D

P.S. I'm not affiliated with ackits.com, but I have had unbelievable customer service from them, as well as very reasonable prices, so I recommend them any time I can! They deserve the "props."
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  #8  
Old 06-02-2002, 10:38 AM
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What is bad about w123 seats? Well, here goes:

-the lower section does not support your legs on the sides at all; they are too springy and collapse underneath you when cornering

-the lower section does not support the front of your legs (behind the knees); consequently, you have to support your legs on the floor through your feet, rather than relaxing and letting the seat support your body (very uncomfortable on a long trip)

-the seat back lacks ANY support for the lower back; sit in any car that has adjustable lumbar support, and you won't believe how comfortable comparted to w123 seats

-the seat back basically curves forward at the top, which pushes your shoulders forward can causes you to arch your head/neck back, which puts everything in an uncomfortable position; if the lumbar support pushed your lower back out like it should, then they upper back and neck would be aligned better and positioned much more comfortably.

Corbuea sells seats that look pretty comfortable, have adjustable lumbar support, and have brackets which allow a direct bolt-in into the w123 chassis, and I'm VERY close to calling in an order. Since this is my only gripe about my car, I think $400 is a reasonable price to pay to drive it comfortably for the next few years.

Greg
'84 300D

P.S., in reference to the compressors in the last post, I meant to type "Sanden" not "Sanded."
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2002, 10:39 AM
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leathermang I was using the Ford truck as an example. They, along with Chevy trucks seem to be able to chill you out in this part of the country during July/August.
I agree with Greg contact the ackits.com folks. They seem to know what they are doing when it comes to ac refits.
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  #10  
Old 06-02-2002, 11:08 AM
LarryBible
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I won't call my response a rant, but rather a critique. No machine that has ever been built is perfect.

In doing such a critique it must be remembered that everyone has different elements of a car that are more important to them than those of the next guy. So, some of the items on your list would have never shown up on my list had I begun the list myself. But there are several others that you did not mention that I see as an engineering or design weakness.

Your list first:

I never gave any thought whateve to the looks of the door pockets. During most of my miles in my 123's I was covering several states and cities and the door pockets were great. This was before Mapquest and GPS technology, so the right pocket had State maps and the left pocket city maps. No complaints. Had I been driving the other 99% of the cars on the road without them I would have had maps scattered everywhere.

I solved the climate control problems by not buying ACC cars for my own use, 240D's, at least the ones that I have had, have had the manual system. Believe it or not, I have enough sense to turn down the temp when I'm hot and turn it up when I'm cold. That said, my wife and daughter have each had a 123 with the late type ACC and have given no problems except for the $35 monovalve kit one time on my wifes 300TD. My "Keep It Simple" theory drives me to the simple 240D, manual everything.

I don't know what makes the difference, but this molding in my Euro cars are perfect, it's the US cars I've had that exhibit this trait.

No complaints about how the inside of the trunk lid looks. These lids are strong and everything stays adjusted and tight, at least that's my experience. I have not found myself, regardless of what I'm driving, in the habit of showing off the inside of my trunk lid. No complaints.

The only complaint or problem I've ever had with glove box doors is the latch mechanism. I have never seen a misaligned lid, or if I did, I simply spent the five minutes that it took to align it. No complaints.

My Euro cars don't have these pockets. I personally think, given the extreme lack of rear legroom that they should not be on any 123 car, except maybe the rare stretch limousines.

I personally see the lock system as an extreme advantage. It is quiet, durable and convenient. You lock the car with the key, making it difficult to impossible to lock the keys in the car, and everything is locked. It's a GREAT system. In the 800,000 or so 123 miles I've replaced one drivers door diaphragm for about $10 and one gas tank door diaphragm for the same price. The system is easy to troubleshoot and relatively troublefree. I wish the same system could be on my '01 C Class.


The responses from others were interesting. Except for the seat frames occasionally breaking down, I see the 123 seats a great design success. MB research determined decades ago that a firm seat is less tiring on long trips. I drive with my seatback reclined much further than most people and have driven my 240D probably hundreds of times where I fueled the car, started down the road and did not stop for anything until the fuel was used up, and we all know how long that can be. For such long hauls the seats are supreme. That said, perhaps I happen to fit the seat well. I am 6' 1" and about 190 pounds, kind of an average sized fellow. If I were larger or smaller, maybe I would have complaints.


I hesitate to list my complaints because it does not include the vast number of positives about these great automobiles. Many of these complaints previous and following are because these cars have lasted so long that we are comparing them to newer cars rather than comparing them to other cars of their period. Here goes with my list of downfalls with these cars. These are in addition to those above.

Power steering gear boxes get slack and are difficult to impossible to adjust. Your only alternative is to take it out, take it apart and shim everything up. This is not something for a DIY guy. This is an engineering oversight as far as I'm concerned.

Underhood drains clogging up causing water in floor boards. I went for years bailing water from floor boards before finding the answer at mercedesshop.com. Bless mshop!

The complexity and frustration of doing any work under the dash is an engineering oversight. It is ridiculous the hassle of going under there for anything other than instrument cluster repair. The good news is that you rarely must do so.

The chincy US Headlights. I suppose this complaint belongs toward the stupid US headlight laws that stayed on the books for years. The Germans had the headlights figured out decades ago for their own use. A plus here is the ease of bulb replacement and adjustment with all lights on a Benz requiring no tools(except US sealed beam replacement.)

The starter seemed to copy the AWFUL GM style starter that has been one of the achilles heels of GM cars for 50 years. Why couldn't they do better on this, particularly for a diesel car.


So there's my list of complaints. If I ever have a full day to spend on my list of 123 positive attributes, I will make that post.

I suggest that anyone complaining about any portion of these cars go drive some American, or even other German cars, or Japanese cars of the same era. First of all, there aren't many left running. To me that says it all. Secondly I expect that the list of complaints on 90% of the other cars of the era will be much longer and with much more mechanical content.

Have a great day,
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2002, 12:05 PM
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GregS, You posted about them before and I checked it out... I plan on doing the p-flow condensor for sure..I have never heard of that Diesel-kiki compressor... seems like everything I start to fix I wind up having to learn everything about it in order to do it right... seems like there are no generalists left in most fields that you can ask for an overview and get both the theory and up to date specifics combined in an answer....

On the seats... I have an 'excessively springy,non supporting ' seat in my 80 240d and just the opposite in my ex 300td 81 ... you might be able to take it apart and bend new heavier springs to fit the seat frame... bend them cold of course to maintain their spring...

A good auto upholstery shop might be able to do something for the back part of the seat, as in shapeing it to fit your needs..

I have long planned on taking inner tubes and cutting them where I could put them under the seat with a leather (naturally) cover over them, to protect them from sharp stuff and keep them from rubbing a hole where they contact stuff.... I could adjust them with air pressure that way...

I am the proud owner of a manual shift, manual windows,manual ac control,non sun roof, 240d. Simple is better for some things.
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2002, 05:42 PM
rebootit
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Hey Larry,

You mean to tell me you KNOW when you are hot or cold and can ACTUALLY adjust the heat/cool to suit you? Wow! Believe it or not my 11 year old asked me today if I was going to replace those "handle things" for the windows with buttons in the 240. She has never seen something like that before. Go figure.
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  #13  
Old 06-02-2002, 06:53 PM
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My only comment relating to the complains is that I always kick the map pocket getting out ;-)

I do have a few questions relating to the complaints, though.

First off, what's the best way to remove the warped plastic? Is there a natural removal point, or should I just cut with a knife, or what?

Second, how much does it cost to get the driver's seat restored (the insides) to the original firmness and do you go to an upholsterer for this? All the previous owners have been a little soggy around the midsection, so it's pretty crushed.

Lastly, my vacuum system is pretty shot. I have to hustle out of the car to lock all four doors after turning the car off. How long after shutting down should I be able to lock and unlock the doors with a good system? And is it expensive to have a mechanic diagnose the problems in the system, because it sounds like the actual repairs are easy. Thanks for any answers!

Simon
78 280E 126k miles
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  #14  
Old 06-02-2002, 07:09 PM
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The place where they put the map pocket used to be called the ' kick panel' ... so it is little wonder that it gets kicked....

My wagon would still lock the doors the next day..

That is a funny image,,, you hustling out to lock the doors... someone might think something chased you out and you were trying to lock it in... like a snake...

A person can buy the springs to renew the seats bottoms .

I think you should try the diagnosis because it will provide a wonderful bonding feeling between you and your car... to know how and where its working mechanisms are....
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2002, 08:40 PM
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I find the list of "shortfalls" of the 123 interesting. None of the items on the list bother me at all. I think the major shortfall is simply the lack of power in the 240D. As a side issue, I wish the 123 was maybe 500 or 700 pounds lighter, even if it had to be a bit smaller to get it. Of course, the weight does make them a bit more durable in a crash, and that is a very good thing.

I still believe that these are the best value car on the road today. They are safe, and the best of all, they are maintainable. Parts are available, and once repaired, the repairs tend to last.

For $2 to $4k, you can get a car that can go 100 to 300kmiles, or maybe Larry Bible mileage. Try to match that with anything out there.

Joe

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