From a strict utilitarian perspective, there simply is no better car than this, by any manufacturer, including Mercedes, at any price. Cars have only gone downhill since, as I was reminded when the oil level light started blinking last night driving home in my wife’s 2008 BMW 528i. I would have checked the oil, only the thing has no dipstick. That’s right – no dipstick. Except the rafts of overpaid engineers at the overbloated company that designed the thing.
Frankly, you couldn’t pay me to drive a newer Mercedes, and lots of people with new Mercedes cars buttonhole me outside the bagel shop to tell me how they had a car just like mine and would still be driving it if they hadn’t been rear ended by a loaded dump truck on the freeway and totalled the car, but walked away. “Car saved my life. Don’t ever sell it – these new ones aren’t half as good”.
Rust is the enemy. Your jack points will rust out, and the fender rims. So spend your money replacing rubber items and get some new sheet metal. Respray it if you get bored. And drive to work with the quiet confidence that 95% of all the other cars on the road will still be in the boneyard long before yours will.
The drivers’ seat is clearly from another era, and you will likely have to re-stuff it if you have a bad back. But the MB tex is pretty bombproof.
You will need a reasonable mechanic to fix the vacuum system and adjust the valves periodically. You may need some new rod ends and periodic other suspension components, but once you replace them, they are good for another 20 years. So look at maintenance as an investment in secure transporation.
If you live in LA, take it to Mr. MB Motors in Encino, just off the 101 (no affiliation). Taking it anywhere else is a huge waste of money. If you live in or around DC, take it to the Auto Shoppe, in Silver Spring MD. Tell Randy that Karl sent you.
The W123 gets another well deserved encomium.