230 CE or 280 CE?

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2014-08-03

I was wondering whether anybody out there could help me.

I am going to buy an early 80's Mercedes coupe, either a 230 CE or a 280 CE but Im not sure which engine to plump for.

My thoughts so far:

The 230 CE engine is smaller, has a single overhead cam, uses less fuel and I have heard is a tougher engine, with an output of about 100kW.

The 280 CE is a DOHC 2.8 and puts out about 140 kW.

Fuel consumption is not a big issue as whichever model I buy, I'll be installing a Compressed Natural Gas conversion (I live in Italy).

I'd like as much power as possible so the 280 would be the obvious choice- but I'm a little afraid of the DOHC engine... over the years I've had a few Mercs with the 230 engine and I found it to be pretty well bullet proof, but is the 2.8 the same?

Does somebody out there have alot of experience of the 2.8 engine, either good or bad? I'd really appreciate hearing about it...

Thanks in advance


Coventry Climax
Joined: 2012-02-16

I used to own a 1982 280 CE, and never had any problems with the engine. Compared to the 4 cylinder it's a lot smoother and significantly more powerful, plus it sounds fantastic at high revs. In my opinion, it's definitely the better car.

Interestingly, I seem to recall that when the W123 was first launched Motor Sport tested a 230 C (carburettor version of the coupe) and a 280 E (which although a four-door, is mechanically identical to the 280 CE), and they found that during their test the 6-cylinder car was actually more economical as the 4-cylinder was quite underpowered considering the weight of the car. From my experience the 280 CE ought to return about 23-24mpg.

Joined: 2011-09-28

Hi, I have had lots of Merccedes, no doubt the 280 CE is the better machine. Almost bulletproof, my actuel car 280 CE done now over 300.000km and oil pressure still very good. If you look also at the official prices for classic cars the 280 CE brings you more and has more potential. Be sure NOT to buy the 280C (carburettor), that's very well not recommanded! Enjoy your more powerfull car. Alfred (Netherlands)

Joined: 2016-04-28

Hi, I've had both, and think for what it's worth, the 230 CE IS AS GOOD A CAR AS THE 280.

its (obviously) the same shape, it's simpler, slightly cheaper to run, and, let's face it, neither car is being bought for 'performance' is it?


Good luck with your purchase, I think they're excellent cars