Mercedes-Benz W123

Mercedes-Benz Whensday: The Rise and Fall of the W123

1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123

Before the Mercedes-Benz Class models existed on their own, they were offered as trims in the Mercedes-Benz W123. It started out simple, but the 1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123 quickly underwent many changes in its ten years that led to much of the modern Mercedes-Benz lineup that we recognize today.
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Instant Classic

Although it came out 70 years after, the W123 could be considered the Model T of Europe. When it was introduced in 1976, it was an instant success. Not because of its performance. Not because of its style. It was popular because it was reliable, affordable, and practical. At its peak, there was more than a two year wait if you wanted to buy one brand new. The flagship model was even named the T-Model in Germany!


The W123 was one of the first Mercedes-Benz vehicles to undergo extensive, modern day testing before going into production, and the research paid off. Crash tests, air tunnels, and worldwide prototype testing are but three strategies employed in creating the W123. Because of the rigorous testing and overall simplicity of the car, it quickly became known as one of the safest cars on the road. It was one of the first Mercedes-Benz to use crumple zones in the vehicle body and also showed the world the benefit of stronger struts and doors.
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The Road to Autonomy

This is our favorite part. The W123 actually did a lot of its testing without physical drivers. Of course, the car had to be controlled remotely using radio frequency waves, but if your just watching the car go around the track, it looks a lot like the autonomous tests Mercedes-Benz does with the E-Class today, which is fitting because the W123 became the E-Class! If you would like to learn more about the W123, let us know! Every Wednesday, we will feature a different piece of Mercedes-Benz history, so tune in next week for another installment of Mercedes-Benz Whensday!