Having daily driven a W123 in the past gives me an enormous soft spot for them, and I’ve established a friend group that is absolutely All About Old Benzes. And while a bunch of older cars look like crap once they get a bit of crap on them, old Mercedes just keep looking better.
To start things off, here’s my friend’s 1970 220D. As a believer in Bradley Brownell’s philosophy of Touch The Cars, seeing a W115 with a glorious patina and all the dents and dings that almost 50 years of being used as a mode of transportation, rather than a luxury flexing machine, inherently bring makes this thing always put a smile on my face. Showroom examples have their place but they honestly make for much more boring photographs.
Try to imagine a mint condition W115 there, devoid of scars or stickers and any sort of proof of a life-well-lived. It would look sterile next to the chaos and decay of the real world. Seeing an aged example and putting it in an environment that has also aged makes the car seem more tactile in the image. It’s a vehicle that drove up to the picture, not a render placed into a background.
Next, let’s add in another friends’ W123 300D, similarly aged and a bit weathered. This is actually the exact one I used to own, but it looked far worse when I had it, mostly because I had no idea how to find parts for a German car without being absolutely screwed over on eBay - turns out it’s an entirely different ballgame than owning a Japanese car, which was the full extent of my previous experience wrenching.
Having sold this while broken after finally letting it claim victory over my lackluster repair skills, I still somehow miss it. The vault-closing sound of the door slam, the hilariously noisy spool of the incredibly antiquated turbo fed by a “cold air intake”, and the fact that I never had to worry about speeding despite having a broken speedo all made it one hell of an experience to drive. It had unknown mileage on it when it was mine (speedo out also means odometer out!), but it’s had apparently around another 50,000 miles put on since I had it, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it outlives me. It wasn’t the prettiest example, but it was built like a tank.