Mercedes-Benz estate cars are widely regarded as among the best load-luggers you can buy, traditionally offering a winning blend of practicality with great comfort. They were never cheap, but the pedigree inherent in the three-pointed star atop the bonnet will always go hand in hand with a premium price.
It’s now 40 years since Mercedes-Benz launched its first factory-built estate, on the platform of the long-running – and highly regarded – W123 series. The saloon version made its debut in early 1976.
They were engineered to behave exactly the same as the existing saloon version, even when fully laden or towing. The vehicles were built at a new production facility in Bremen, under the supervision of Mercedes staff from its headquarters in Stuttgart, so that the new model would be constructed to the same exacting standards as the rest of the range.
As well as the new extended bodywork at the rear, alterations included a strengthened rear chassis and tailgate (which was tested for its integrity in the event of a crash) along with engine-driven, self-levelling hydraulic suspension at the back.
Although these models would soon establish themselves as the most desirable estate cars in the world at the time, the demand was so great that Mercedes originally decided not to produce them in right-hand drive – although, eventually, the T (which stands for Tourismus und Transport) went on sale in the UK in 1980.