Rush to Buy: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Project

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

This 1978 Mercedes-Benz 280CE is quite the project, but the seller is confident buyers will be rushing over with cash in hand to buy it. This is due to their opinion that they’ve priced this Mercedes so aggressively, it will be impossible to resist. I have my doubts, but check it out for yourself here on craigslist in Boise – I wonder if Jesse or Josh will be tempted! 

Right here, this is where I start to have my doubts: Mercedes’ famous “MBTex” upholstery is near impossible to rip, tear or otherwise destroy. I’m not exaggerating when I believe you could lift a car from the bottom of a lake with this upholstery and find it intact. How, then, does a car that has lived on the land have a destroyed driver’s seat? Did they carry an open switchblade in their pockets? At least the door cards, carpets and dash appear clean.

Thankfully, the engine bay looks far cleaner, but the seller claims it needs a valve adjustment. He’s driven it varying distances and claims it gets better with each mile driven, but that’s not exactly an endorsement for driving it halfway across the country when the furthest he’s gone is 20 miles. Still, at least he’s honest that this is simply a project he hasn’t had time to mess with – but I do think he oversells the appeal of this W123 coupe given how much more work is needed.

The five-point alloys are said to be factory items, though I don’t remember them from the options catalog (unless they are some sort of period AMG item – maybe a reader can confirm). The seller claims the “hard work” is done as it relates to the body, and hopefully the filler we see here was just used for dents and not rust. The asking price of $3,650 doesn’t seem too far off, and the seller claims he is open to reasonable offers. Jesse or Josh – is this Boise find calling your name?

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Comments

  1. Tuto Thomen

    Those seats are not MBTex,It’s real leather.

    5+

  2. Alfie

    If it can go 10/20 miles without issues, it can go 1,000/2,000 miles without issues. This formula hasn’t failed me so far. You wouldn’t believe some the vehicles I drove across the country!

    6+

    • Steve65

      Two words: tire failure…

      0

      • Alfie

        “Without issues” included dry-rotted tires.

        0

      • Steve65

        I once got over a hundred miles before a tire failed. It wasn’t a theoretical comment.

        It also wasn’t dry rot. It threw a steel belt and tore the tread off.

        0

      • DrinkinGasoline

        Steve65….You got over a hundred miles on a tire before it failed? I’m thinking that you meant to state a higher mileage.

        2+

  3. DrinkinGasoline

    Rest assured, to the seller’s dismay….I will not be tripping over myself “rushing over with cash in hand to buy it”. Hopefully a 19 year old doesn’t get sucked it. I worry about our youth and these types of ads 🙁
    From experience, these are a money pit.

    4+

  4. jrmedsel

    These seats look like they’re leather — not nearly as indestructible as MB Tex.

    4+

  5. Rustytech

    Both front seats look terrible, and seat covers aren’t going to be cheap. The spots on the body that are in primer aren’t in areas where you would typically see rust so are likely dent or scratch repairs. Compared to the Celica this is a bargain, and a more classy car to boot!

    0

  6. Brakeservo

    The seat is trashed because it’s worn leather, not MB Tex!

    2+

    • Steve65

      Mercedes used leather with square perforations that looked exactly like their vinyl?

      0

      • Sam

        Go figure…Germans imitating vinyl with leather and American “Big 3” imitating leather with vinyl.

        0

      • Brakeservo

        It’s clearly leather.

        0

  7. Sam

    Ok, how about the elephant in the room…sexy Jag sedan in the background…sbc swap candidate if the rest of the car is nice.

    2+

  8. Mike H

    I’m not sure what it is specifically about the German 2-doors from the mid 1960’s through the 1990’s (and maybe even still a little bit so today), but they all (M-B, BMW, Audi, and even the non-hatchback VW’s) somehow managed to get the proportions exactly right. While this example is kind of crappy, it’s still a gorgeous car with a sexy profile, seemingly made perfect by German coupe styling.

    Not sure myself if it’s the height of the greenhouse or the shape of the C-pillar, but there is something about the Teutonic 2-doors that you just didn’t see in the domestics or the Asian imports from the same time; this, coming to you from a long time lover of vintage J-Tin.

    5+

  9. Karl Kretschmar

    A friend of mine has a favorite saying: “Nothing’s more expensive than a cheap Mercedes”.

    2+

    • Brakeservo

      Well obviously your friend has never had a cheap Rolls Royce or Ferrari! I have.

      2+

  10. Joe Nose

    Those seats weren’t cut. The car was owned by a widebody and the material just blew out over time.

    2+

    • Sam

      Too many brats and kraut!

      0

  11. Will

    Here’s the saved ad with all the images and description http://www.craigslistadsaver.com/view.php?name=1978Mercedes-Benz280CE

    3+

  12. Jeffrey;L. Zack

    M110 Twin Cam. No thank you. I would be more interested if it were a 1.9 Diesel! (I have owned a 123 chassis with the Demon M110 engine.) Never, never again.

    0

  13. Mike

    Why buy this piece when I’d prob sell you my 89 190e 2.6 5-spd manual with 90k that runs like a top and is straight and gone through (ok it needs front shocks) for 5500. It’s three times the car this is.

    0

    • Brakeservo

      Well, one answer I have to your question is that I’ve owned examples of both Mercedes and as good as your (or any) 190 is, neither the build quality, nor “style” really compares to the earlier cars. Many’s the time I glanced at my 190 and marveled how much like an ’80s Chrysler K car it looks. And it’s technologically complicated, parts are expensive and it’s not as reliable as a really good older Merc.

      1+

      • Mike

        I have to agree that the 190s are overengineered, but that’s the case throughout the older mercedes spectrum. My 190 has much beefier axles than ubiquitous auto 2.6s, the flywheel is heavy but serious, and the M103 suddenly becomes a performance engine with the 5-spd. It will blow the doors off a stock Cossie for example. The interior build quality inside is admittedly far less than impressive but I suppose that makes it light.

        K car? I don’t think so lol

        1+

      • Mike

        When was the last time you shifted into 5th at 90 mph and had power to 120 mph in a K Car?

        0

  14. Brakeservo

    Well Mike you asked, so the answer is just a few years ago at Portland International Raceway. And when was the ladt time you also drove like that legally and responsibly?? And no, I wasn’t behind the wheel of my 190, it would never go that fast.

    0

  15. Mike

    II don’t drive 120 often (few times ever) but I did in my 190 and there was no one else within 60 miles of me I’d bet in Southwest Texas in the middle of nowhere. Appreciate the moral authority tone, Dad.

    0

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