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How dirty is a 1982 diesel?
The Mercedes W123 Club measured the emissions of a 240 D. In traffic. We compare the result with our measurements of modern Euro 6 cars.
The W 123 series is the best-selling by Mercedes. It is considered to be particularly solid, its models are accordingly durable and popular. That is exactly why the Mercedes-Benz W123-Club has existed since 1996 and has been run by the manufacturer as an official brand club since 1998. A longtime club member drives a W 123 (240 D) from 1982.

At that time, there was still no sign of a Euro emissions standard. The club member's Mercedes limousine has 343,000 kilometers on the clock and an oxidation catalytic converter from Oberland Mangold in the exhaust system, which probably made it clean in the 1990s to Euro 1. The cat only oxidizes hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO), it has no influence on nitrogen oxides (NOX). However, they are a component of emissions, particularly from diesel vehicles. And they are harmful to health, which is why diesel engines have been discredited, especially since the VW exhaust gas scandal, and are threatened by driving bans in many places if they do not meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. This has been in effect since 2014.

State-of-the-art emission measurements on a classic car
The assumption: If diesel, which is already six years old, should be too dirty for the city, then 38-year-old oil burners like the 240 D would have to be a purely environmental catastrophe. An assessment that classic car drivers are opposed to from many sides. The club's 240-D driver works for a car manufacturer, also works professionally with diesel exhaust and does not share this assessment. To substantiate this, he arranged for his oldie to do what he did in the job: measuring emissions. And in accordance with the latest legal requirements, i.e. also in real road traffic (Real Driving Emissions, RDE) with mobile measuring devices (Portable Emission Measurement System, PEMS).

The club initiated an RDE trip at service provider AKKA, and in autumn 2019 the W123 enthusiast steered his 72-hp diesel with a 70-kilogram PEMS from AVL on the trailer hitch at 8 degrees, among other things, through the Remstal. "To achieve 120 km / h on the B29, it took 70 percent pedal travel, on slopes, despite full throttle, I struggled to make the 60 km / h for the RDE overland trip," the driver said afterwards. This certainly had no moderating effect on emissions. But the RDE-compliant route succeeded according to the specifications.

Mercedes 240D_W123_Abgasest
The RDE round brought the old Mercedes diesel to its limits.
Ancient diesel not dirtier than (many) EU6 diesel
The result of two calibrated trips: The W 123 emitted an average of 808 mg NOX per kilometer. It is only slightly above a 34 year younger, similarly sized, but around twice as strong Mercedes CLA 200 d and in the solid midfield of the measurement results that auto motor und sport has regularly determined together with the experts from Emissions Analytics since the diesel scandal - under comparable conditions: according to the RDE specifications, monitored by a measurement engineer on board, with PEMS, in real road traffic.
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