• Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
The Mercedes-Benz W123 was built for the 1976 through 1985 model years, and it remains legendary to this day for its reliability and lack of frivolity. The diesel versions saw decades of service as taxis in Europe and Africa, and quite a few were sold in the United States as well. Here's a naturally aspirated 240D that I spotted a few weeks ago in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.



This one has a mere 288,982 miles on the clock, which would be breathtaking for most early-1980s cars but nothing special for a diesel W123. Did its final owner break something costing more than a few hundred bucks to fix, resulting in that sad, final tow-truck ride? Or did it just accumulate a lot of parking tickets, so many that its final owner couldn't afford to bail it out?



Under the hood is the OM616 four-cylinder diesel engine. Horsepower was rated at 67, which made for a 3,020-pound car that required a great deal of driver patience when entering freeways and leaving stoplights. Yes, 67 horsepower in an E-Class. It was a different time.



In spite of the bombardment of decades of harsh Colorado sunlight and close to 300,000 miles of driving, the MB-Tex upholstery inside looks just about as good as new. This stuff will last longer than the Great Pyramids.



You could buy a semi-sporty, kinda-flashy Benz in 1982, but you bought the 240D because you knew it would last four times as long as sedans costing a third as much. This not-particularly-luxurious machine listed at $23,158 new (that's around 58 grand in inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars), in a year in which a new Dodge Diplomat with more power had an MSRP of $7,750. A new Cadillac Sedan DeVille was just $15,699 that year.



When you drove a 240D, you told the world that you cared about value. This one has reached its final chapter, but it provided a lot of value for that $23,158 during its 34 years on the planet.

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