Occasionally you find an old Mercedes that has a great tale to tell and tremendous charm. Of course it’s fantastic to find those tiny mile timewarp cars, but there’s something about a car like this Manila Beige W123 – a well-travelled faithful friend to one man, it’s sole owner for 34 years. Bought to be used and used every day. Cars like this are a testament to the quality of Mercedes-Benz, they represent the antithesis of today’s throwaway culture; a beautifully made machine beautifully looked after is capable of extraordinary longevity.
Back in 1982 Mick McMichael (Google him) was taking the next step in his professional wrestling career. A successful career that started early with him being the youngest pro the sport had seen. Coaching naturally followed, and with a great deal of the work taking him to Germany a reliable car was needed. Mick considered a Cortina but was persuaded by his friend Joachim, a Bremen taxi driver, that he needed a Mercedes, and that he could get him a W123 saloon much cheaper than the inflated prices dealers in the UK were charging, but it would have to be left-hand drive. Convinced, Mick took the plunge and ordered the Manila Beige 240D, with a few accessories, such as the genuine Mercedes tow bar, power steering and a sunroof. We have all the original order documentation and bill of sale from the Bremen Mercedes concessionaires. He never needed to buy another car…
Travelling all over Europe every year, usually for eight months at a time, towing their caravan, Mick and his wife toured Europe throughout the eighties and nineties. The Berlin wall fell, Europe changed but Mick’s trusty Mercedes kept on covering the kilometres.
The service history of this car is quite incredible. The original service book has around sixty entries up until 2006, detailing every piece of work done to the car and endless oil changes. In 2006 a new engine was fitted – a reconditioned unit from Mercedes specialists, Crewe Engines – after which a new notebook was started (there was no space left in the original service book) detailing every journey and every service since. It would appear that around 22k miles has been covered on the new engine. We have just fitted a new radiator and serviced the car yet again.
Thanks to always being looked after and garaged the bodywork is in remarkable condition. The fabulously period Manila Beige paintwork still shines deeply. There are a few minor blemishes, but we rather think that, along with the various old stickers, they add to the charm of this car – patina in its truest sense. Importantly the underside is very good with original unwelded sills and floors.
Inside we have left the sheepskin tailored seat covers that were fitted when the car was new. They’re getting a bit threadbare in places but we feel they’re part of the car. The carpets are unmarked thanks to the protection of rubber mats and the original Grundig stereo works well.
The 240D with a manual gearbox was the archetypal taxi of Berlin to Beirut. And today, even at three or four decades old still has no replacement in North Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
Turn the key and the four-cylinder diesel catches instantly and settles down to that unmistakable clatter that takes you back to long-forgotten Mediterranean holidays. Progress is never hurried, but not too leisurely. The gearbox is tight with superb synchromesh, the ride wonderfully forgiving and the brakes superb. It’s the sort of car you would think nothing of driving to the next continent in, right now.
All books/manuals, tools and spare keys, original bill of sale and a small cache of spare parts. Recently passed its MoT and ready to drive and enjoy.
A wonderful old thing that needs a new owner who’s prepared to use it, love it and look after it as well as it has become accustomed.