1979 Mercedes-Benz 280S: El Salvador Escapee


This 1979 Mercedes-Benz 280S here on eBay is a pristine example of a Euro-spec sedan that has a fascinating history. US versions of these classic highway cruisers got saddled with clunky lighting and even worse bumpers, so the clean lines are preserved here with the glass H1/H4 headlights and slim European bumpers. This particular car was once the pride and joy of El Salvador, belonging to the country’s president before revolution drove the elite class to flee with their most prized possessions – including this 280S, which made it safely to Miami. Complete with wind-up windows and rear headrests, this is one of the most honest European examples I’ve seen, and it will be interesting to see where the bidding ends up. And yes, the fire engine red paint is just fine by me!


  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    If I was el presidente, I woulda tucked in with the drug money and got a 450 SEL 6.9 – not the cheapest S class you could buy – sorry, second cheapest – it’s an auto

    • Dave Wright


  2. Dan

    Not a barn find, and we don’t want to see late models…especially most foreign cars….sorry….in a grouchy mood…lol….wanna see Mopars, Chevys, Fords, Buicks, Olds and Pontiacs….

    • RayT Member

      Can’t agree with you, Dan. This is an interesting story, and a car many Barn Finders (like me) wouldn’t mind driving around in. Even if the seller is over-hyping it a bit, these are still nice cars, and certainly classics.

      If I were King, BF would have fewer Oldsmobiles and Buicks and more British sports/classic cars, early Japanese cheap-Os, and, if we were lucky the occasional Skoda, Goliath and/or Hanomag. Tastes vary, and I’m a 99% satified BF reader.

    • Jason

      “wanna see Mopars, Chevys, Fords, Buicks, Olds and Pontiacs…”

      sez who?

      You sound like a redneck, Dan..

      • Dan

        Why thank you for the compliment Jason. It’s still not a barn find…

      • Mark E

        His neck is burning with pride… ^_^

  3. Mark E

    I like this car and it’s for a strange reason I guess. My sister & bro-in-law had one of those 300 turbodiesel wagons from this vintage. It had the automatic AC and my BIL was ALWAYS working on it, whether trying to find parts or trying to jury-rig it and coax it to work. The euro AC on this car with the manual controls is BRILLIANT! Now I know what to look for when/if I ever go to buy an MB from this era!

    • Dan h

      I second that about the a/c! God forbid you should get one that has that Chrysler designed heater a/c servo!! That has got to be one of worst and evil devices anyone has ever put into a car (almost as evil as GM’s Skip Shift feature or the worst of all time: Active Noise Control-aka fake engine sound)

      Manual climate control on any Benz is the ONLY way to go!

  4. jim s

    interesting car. funny, but nice, to see one with window cranks. if the reserve is not too much higher this could be a nice fun driver. great find.

  5. RickyM

    Prefer them with the European spec. Colour is fine with me – at least you will find it in the Car Park !!

  6. Dolphin Member

    High quality build, beautiful detailing, conservative M-B corporate look, and worth putting money and effort into. And the Euro versions look better and usually drive better than US versions, so this one is all the more appealing. It has an interesting story too.

    Keep them coming.

  7. john C

    Well, it’s at $5,100.oo at 10pm Thursday, so it’s out of my range now, but what a beauty!! I love Barn Finds,…learning alot as I see these automobiles shown and with commentary to educate and tease. And for Dan, likely an outstanding patriot, perhaps with a red neck as well… YOU GO Dan…work on our American cars that you know,.. and if I can purchase that Jaguar shown on BF this evening, I’ll sure take it somewhere ‘else’ for service !!! Best to all who write in with pictures of relics and commentators too.

  8. Horse Radish

    About this car (a 280S) it is carburated with that thirsty Solex 4A1 double barrel carb.
    The fuel injected cars are way more reliable and economical.
    And then there is that smog check issue for some of us……

  9. Tirefriar

    Even the photo date settings are in euro format.

    Cool car. Will not pass Cali smog, officially that is. Can still operate it in Cali, just hang a dealer plate on it.

  10. Woodie Man

    How many Death Squad assassins could Robert D’Aubuisson fit in this puppy including the trunk? I’m guessing enough to kill the 800 people of El Mozote. Just sayin

    Like 1
  11. Dan

    The ashtray does not match the rest if the wood.

  12. Mark E

    Considering it has nearly 150k miles on it and it’s at $5200 and reserve not met I wonder what the dealer, er, seller thinks it’s worth? Personally I like the car. I just don’t like it more than $5,000 worth. Not after seeing what my bro-in-law had to do each weekend to keep their similar vintage 300 turbodiesel running as a daily driver…

  13. Anti-Dan

    Love this. Unusual spec, good looking example…more ‘furrin’ cars, please, BF…

  14. Jason

    redneck Dan sez ” It’s still not a barn find…”

    Neither is plenty of cars on this site. And did you think everything on BaT actually requires a trailer?

    You’re not doing your stereotype much good, Dan!

    • Josh Staff

      Alright guys, let’s play nice!

  15. alan

    The M110 engine is a marvel of inefficiency. 2.8 liters of poor fuel economy, even worse when carb equipped as this one is. If the motor is quiet then the valves have been adjusted to tight. Adjusting the valves is one of the few virtues of the design. They can be done in under and hour.

    If you have working a/c and an EZ-Pass then having manual windows is just fine.

    Rather refreshing to see one in red rather than the more common colors.

    No matter what, these are really fun to drive.

  16. jim s

    sold for $6100.

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