Mercedes-Benz W123 cars are like cockroaches in DT’s native Southern California – plentiful and impossible to kill. Almost all of them are diesel sedans. We see the occasional diesel wagon (and have owned them in the past) and very rarely see a gas-powered coupe. When they were new, if you wanted a gas-powered W123 in the US all you could get was automatic-equipped luxo barge. But in Europe and the rest of the world many different engine, transmission & body combinations were available. And they’re all importable into the US now that the youngest have passed their 25th birthdays! With that in mind, take a gander at this 1983 M-B 230E sedan, a 4-speed manual gasser being offered by Cool Euro Cars in Hungary for $5995.
The Euro W123s are far, far sleeker than the US market versions – just look at those nice composite headlights with their smooth rectangular lenses, and those slim bumpers that cannot actually be used as diving boards in case of emergencies.
This car looks to be in fantastic original condition, with clean white paint, shiny chrome, no visible rust or body work, and even an undamaged chin panel under the front bumper (they are easily crunched by curbs and road debris). As with any white car, however, the color can hide dents, dings and bodywork. With the car being in Hungary an in-person inspection probably won’t be feasible. But at least the seller posted tons of high-res photos that can be used to search for damage.
This 230E is from back in the day when Mercedes’ (and BMW’s) model nomenclature actually had meaning and related to the physical engine displacement; 230 = 2.3L, E = Einspritzung (fuel injection). This M102 engine is a slant-4 rated at 136 hp and 151 lb-ft. The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center tells us that it uses Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection which was the system of choice for Volvo, VW and M-B in the early ’80s. It’s very strange to those of us familiar with modern pulsed EFI, but it’s durable and works well when adjusted properly. Stock 0-100 km (62 mph) time was 11.5 seconds in 1983 – which is faster than a 5-cyl turbodiesel auto W123 at 15.0 seconds – but still glacially slow. At least you’ll have a nice white & blue arctic color scheme to match your performance!
A glance inside reveals that this is a typical Euro Benz, with cloth seats, simple HVAC and manual windows. We would actually prefer this spec to a luxury-encrusted Malaisemobile sold in the US, as there is far less to fail. Plus it really looks “the business” in this color scheme – light blue checks with dark blue vinyl. The aesthetic is classy but surprisingly timeless when compared to the faded MB-Tex vinyl we are used to seeing these days.
This Hungarian Benzo might be easier to own than you might think. Most of our readers are in the US, where 25-year importation laws make it simple to bring in an older car without the need for federal safety & emissions compliance. The seller offers assistance with importation and shipping and claims to be well versed in the process, being a dual US/Hungarian citizen. The website is full of kooky old Ladas and Skodas, so browse around if you have a penchant for vintage Eastern European tin that just doesn’t turn up in your local Wal-Mart parking lot.
What do you think – would this Hungarian appreciate a long boat ride across the Atlantic, into the hands of a manual-starved vintage Benz lover? Or would it not be worth the trouble?
If you find a better manual-equipped Benz for sale, with or without spark plugs, email us here: email@example.com