What Does it Take To Restore A W123 Diesel to Become a Reliable and Enjoyable Daily Driver

What Does it Take To Restore A W123 Diesel to Become a Reliable and Enjoyable Daily Driver

Start with a good solid runner, make your punch list, and then keep working on your rolling restoration until done!

Notice I added in here - enjoyable. You can have a reliable diesel mechanically, but that does not necessarily mean it is going to be enjoyable. If the seat springs are broken down, heater works sporatically, power windows stick and make noise, water leaks into the cabin, glove box door won't close, etc., etc., etc. - then it may not be all that enjoyable.  There is nothing that can put a bigger smile on your face than when you get into an old W123 diesel, starts right up, drives smoothly and everything works - even the cruise control. - the smile will be even bigger if you have done all the work yourself!.

This happened to me this past month as I completed the restoration on White Lightning - my 1983 240D 4-speed with 129,000 miles. The seat back nets and the lighted mirrors were the very last thing to fix. What a pleasure now to drive. The following is a full  list of everything I did on the car. You are welcome to use this for a checklist when you work on restoring your own diesel. 


Body and Exterior Trim

  • Bumpers removed and rubber trim attachment repaired
  • All side trim removed, cleaned and waxed, new clips installed, damaged trim replaced
  • Front windshield and front seal replaced
  • All four door window scrapers replaced
  • Sunroof panel removed, full service and lube and all seals replaced
  • All hinges lubed
  • Front Grill restored
  • Exterior paint buffed and waxed


Interior Work Done

  • All four door panels removed for full cleaning and lubrication
  • Door checks replaced as required
  • Vacuum door locks repaired
  • Inside front chrome door pulls replaced
  • Headliner cleaned
  • Seat tracks lubed
  • Seat map pockets repaired
  • Lighted mirrors repaired or replaced


Lights and Electrical

  • H4 headlights installed
  • LED dash, dome and trunk lights installed
  • Dash dimmer switch replaced
  • Clock repaired
  • All tail light bulbs replaced
  • Original power antenna repaired - new mast installed
  • Cruise control repaired - new amp installed
  • New AGM battery

Suspension and Rear End

  • All new brakes - calipers, rotors, pads and hoses
  • Wheel bearings packed
  • New tie rods (x3) installed
  • New ball joints
  • New idler arm bushings
  • New steering shock
  • Professional front end alignment
  • New front and rear Bilstien shock absorbers
  • New driveline flex disks
  • New anti sway bar links



  • New Sachs clutch
  • New Sachs pressure plate
  • New pilot bearing
  • New throw-out bearing
  • New shift linkage bushings


  • New motor mounts front rear and center
  • New front crank seal
  • Rebuilt fuel injectors with Monark nozzles
  • New glow plugs - prechambers reamed
  • New thermostat
  • New radiator hoses
  • New Voltage regulator
  • Valves adjusted - new valve cover