Who doesn’t love this mustard Mercedes W123 280 TE?
It takes a special kind of car-nut to get up and out on a drenched Sunday morning in early March, to drive to an exposed and windswept aerodrome motor circuit and ogle at a bunch of estate cars.
Incredibly, attendees of the Goodwood Breakfast Clubs have surprised us again with their appetite for a morning meet, and from a grid of self-confessed estate car enthusiasts, we may have found the morning’s most feverish fan.
Mr James Boyce is a man in his element. Walking along the grid to meet us from the cover of the pits directly behind his Mercedes 280 TE in Sahara Yellow, we grab a few minutes of his time to eulogise about all things estate.
“I’ve always wanted one”, Starts James, as we enjoy a look at Breakfast Club’s one and only 280 TE. “I’ve always been into estate cars and have owned several over the years. Mercedes, an Alfa Sport Wagon, VW Type 3 Variant. I’m a bit of an estate car pervert really, so this is great!”. Sounds like we’ve found the right man then.
“I’ve been looking properly for a 280 TE for a year. And I wanted one which needed a bit of work – I like a fiddle and a project. But I wanted one which was hopefully going to be nice at the end of it. This being quite low mileage, and an interesting colour, it ticked the box.”
With 80,000 miles for a 1980 W123 estate, we’d say James has hit the jackpot, and judging by the amount of interest Estate Car Sunday’s one and only 280 TE is receiving from other brave souls who made it out against the elements, his Mercedes is turning into one of the morning’s highlights.
The 280 TE is a significant vehicle for estate car connoisseurs like James, as it’s the first mass-produced station-wagon made by the German marque. First introduced in 1976, the W123 eventually became one of the most popular Mercedes-Benz models of all-time, now renowned for its exceptional engineering and resolute construction.
Is it this pedigree which first attracted James? Not quite…
“I just like boxy cars! If you give me a saloon and estate version of the same car, I’ll always go with the estate. I can’t pretend it’s for practicality. I just like the shape”.
Honesty is the best policy. And we can’t help but think it’s an opinion shared by the majority of people here. There’s just something about the shape and design of a wagon which gets a certain breed excited, not to mention the pleasing continuity in design, from classic Triumphs, through to the W123 and even in modern Audi RS6s. There’s a formula for designing a good-looking estate, and if it works, why change it?
Of course, practicality does have its uses, which James happily concedes to. “I did deliver a desk in it the other day. I didn’t even have to fold the seats down. The boot really is that large”.
And by modern touring standards, the Mercedes is holding its own when it comes to ride comfort too.
“This one is incredibly smooth. The W123 is famous for having a soft, comfortable ride. Mechanically, suspension wise especially, it seems to be spot on. It’s floaty, but it’s incredibly quiet. You can sit at 70mph and not raise your voice at all. It’s a Mercedes through and through”.
And a very popular one. Thanks for bringing it along James!