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35 Year Slumber: 1970 Mercedes 300 SEL

1970 Mercedes 300SEL

When we receive submissions from sellers of vehicles, it usually helps us paint a better picture of why a vintage vehicle is on the market. Those stories take many forms, and in the case of a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL, we learned from Barn Finds reader L.M.K. that the original owner began having vision problems in the 1980s and sadly parked his W109 in the garage, not to be moved again until recently when his son and widow put the car up for sale after his passing. We hope L.M.K. finds a worthy owner to pass this car along to as he doesn’t have the bandwidth for another project at the moment. Find it here on New York’s craigslist with an asking price of $2,800 or best offer.

Mercedes Air Suspension

The 109-series car denoted that the vehicle came with Mercedes’ well-known air suspension. As you can see in the photos, this car clearly is suffering the effects of air bags that could use servicing; however, L.M.K. notes that the suspension still operates and will even hold the car up at normal height for short periods of time. While that’s promising news, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The body does have surface rust, but no terminal rot, says the seller and the interior is in fair shape but will need cleaning and some mold remediation. All glass is accounted for and it appears only one hubcap has gone MIA.

Mercedes 300SEL

The SEL W109 was an LWB or long-wheelbase model featuring the fuel-injected 2.8L M130 engine. If you weren’t going to spec your W109 with one of the brawny 4.5 or 6.3 V8 motors, the M130 was a great runner up – it was the largest of the ‘mid-sized’ SOHC motors produced by Mercedes and offered torquey straight-six power. Unfortunately, the one in this car is currently stuck, but the seller is offering to get it running for any seriously interested parties. With a claimed 42,000 original miles, there’s likely plenty of life left in those cylinders if it fires up again.

Mercedes 300SEL Project

It may appear a bit down on its luck at the moment, but if it’s as solid as L.M.K. says, I’d love to see it restored. These cars look fantastic on the original steel wheels and painted hubcaps, and sourcing some glass European headlights would really enhance the prestige factor. Air suspension may be finicky and expensive, but it delivers superb comfort and handling when functioning correctly. I’d also be interested to see if the original single-stage paint has any life left to it underneath that haze. Who knows, it could shine again with a cut and buff. Would you resurrect this sleeping beauty to soak up some highway miles? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. redwagon

    i hate mold. having said that if you are looking for one this is about as clean (outside) and low mileage as it gets. long wheelbase, highway cruiser

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  2. john e.

    These old MB’s are my favorites to own, I’ve had a few. The asking price compared to its current condition might be a bit too high by about a grand. Its overall needs list and work to be done will put this car upside down; worth less then the work that it needs to have or had done to it. Fully restored a seller might have a turnkey value of $5,000 when its done. Sadly it will taken much more then this to bring it back to its former glory. Hubcaps are easy to find.

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    • Dave Wright

      I agree with your thoughts. I too have owned many of these cars…….mostly of the 6.3 variety but others as well. I love buying an air suspended Mercedes sitting down on the bags……they will all leak down given enough time. The last 6.3 I owned, I bought at a customs sale at the port of Long Beach. It was down and had a broken ignition switch where they had stuck a screwdriver to free the steering lock. The usual cast of characters was there……all commenting on the car and how broken it was. I bought it for 10% of its value, we brought a battery back the next day. It started right up, in 5 min the air was up and the car sat perfectly. I ordered a new ignition from Mercedes and drove the car for 3 years. It was eventually sold to one of the editors of Car and Driver……The right thing to do with this car is service it, clean and polish and drive it. From the photos it might be pretty solid. They are wonderful cars and this would be a great town car with the small engine. The cost of a good paint job would exceed the budget of what the value of the small engine 109’s are selling for today.

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I’ve seen a number of these get scrapped due to values remaining low and upkeep staying high. It’s a bummer. They’re such great cars.

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  3. Rev Rory

    I have a 1972 4.5 version of this car in similar or slightly worse condition, and I have finally realized I am never going to get to it. Ran when parked, suspension inflated a couple years ago when I last started it. Probably lots of money to be had parting it out if you have the time and space, I don’t. Spokane, Wa area; come get it $500/bring a trailer. (Sorry!…)

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  4. Dave Wright

    I will take it……..my brother owns the Goodyear dealer in town and I was raised there……how to we make contact?

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  5. Rev Rory

    Dave, my email is forrest@sandpoint.com

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  6. Rollo Grande

    42,000 underwater miles. “Recently” is a vague term, that car appears to have been out of the garage for a long time.

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  7. Dave Wright

    Emails sent………thanks argonaut110@yahoo.com

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  8. MIke G

    I love this ol’ Girl…Praise the Lowered!!!

    This will take a couple of months of weekends to get back into driver condition, worth it though.

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I have to admit – there’s a part of me that loves this thing sitting on its belly. ;-)

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  9. Charles

    With so much rust showing on the outside sheet metal, one has to wonder what the floor boards look like?

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  10. Chris A.

    Charles is on the right track, especially if this car was ever driven extensively in an upstate NY winter. The blacktop truns white due to the road salt. For an easy look at rust problems, remove the headlight units. the top of the headlight bucket where it is welded to the fender is a notorious spot for rust and obvious when the headlight unit is removed. These are a nice driving car with a wonderful road feel when the suspension is working.

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  11. Governor

    I’m having thoughts of this 300 SEL body sitting on top of a 1978 Chevy 4×4 Blazer frame.

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  12. Charles

    It will be nice to see someone with the passion for these cars restore this car to original condition.

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