Mercedes-Benz Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Legendary W123 E-Class

Mercedes-Benz W123 E-Class 6 photos
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz W123 E-ClassMercedes-Benz W123 E-ClassMercedes-Benz W123 E-ClassMercedes-Benz W123 E-ClassMercedes-Benz W123 E-Class
Mercedes-Benz is celebrating an important milestone today, the 40th anniversary of the W123 E-Class.
The W123 generation of the E-Class was one of the most successful models of the series, with almost 2.7 million units sold worldwide. The German carmaker built the W123 for ten years, and the car was available in Sedan, Wagon, and Coupe versions.

The W123 was first presented at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France, in front of the specialist media representatives of the day. Since day one, the car was well regarded and gained positive response from the media for its engineering and design.

It was so successful that the first year of production was sold out shortly after the launch of the car. Actually, the model was so popular that early second-hand models sold for their original price within the first year of production.

Design-wise, the W123 Mercedes-Benz blended cues from the W116 S-Class and the R/C 107 SL models on a midsize body. Even today, the W123's design is appreciated for its elegance. The car was available in nine versions, from the 200D to the 280E.

Development work on the W123 started in 1968, when its predecessor, the W114/115 “Stroke/8” was being built. Work continued until 1973 when the design of this model was finished. The priorities of the development team included improving safety for occupants, enhancing the interior space, and attaining a new level of reliability.

The W123 Mercedes-Benz E-Class was the first model of the series offered with airbags. The driver side airbag was available as optional equipment for the E-Class starting in 1982.

Another important safety innovation brought by the W123 generation of the E-Class was in the field of passive safety, with large crumple zones and a robust passenger cell. The car also marked the debut of the safety steering shaft, a system that would prevent impaling in the case of a frontal impact.

Mercedes-Benz also used the W123 platform for early experiments in the field of alternative drive solutions, testing its first electric-drive systems and its first hydrogen-drive system. Back then, electric vehicle prototypes used lead-acid batteries, while hydrogen cars burned the gas instead of using today’s fuel cells.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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