Barn Find Benz: 1964 Mercedes 220SE

I’ll admit that I have never owned a Mercedes-Benz. I have friends and family that have but I have steered clear so far. While I couldn’t give a flip about newish ones, I am drawn to older versions like this 1964 220SE. I especially appreciate two-door models, so when this subject surfaced, I had to take a closer look. This Benz is located in Simi Valley, California and is available, here on eBay for a starting bid of $11,000, zero bids tendered as of this writing.

This car, unfortunately, is badgeless as well as VIN-less which makes an accurate identification difficult. The seller describes it as a 1964 250 SE but research indicates that the 250SE wasn’t introduced until 1965, so assuming that the model year is correct, it should be a 220SE. Known officially by M-B as the W111, this series saw production between 1959 and 1971 (coupe 1961-1971) with approximately 370K copies of all variations assembled. The 220SE coupe accounted for about 14K units of that overall total.

Described as a true barn find, this Mercedes does appear to have been snoozing for some period of time. It’s difficult to get a good look at the finish and body due to the dirt and poor lighting, however. The body looks straight and without significant rust, though there is some of the surface nature cropping up in places and the driver’s side fender possesses some notably checked paint. The trim all seems to be mostly present, other than the aforementioned truck lid badge which would help with model identification. The best feature of this coupe, IMHO, is the Paul Bracq penned C-pillar; it really sets this coupe apart from others of the time and is a distinctive Mercedes-Benz trait.

Under the hood is a 118 HP, 2.2 liter, in-line six, cylinder engine that is advertised as a non-runner. The neglected engine compartment is pretty original looking, no idea about the whereabouts of the air cleaner assembly. It would be nice to know if the engine will at least turn freely, it would eliminate the possibility of a seized engine and all of the challenges that will entail. Additionally, the seller mentions that electrical work is needed. An automatic transmission channels the engine’s power, when it runs, to the rear wheels.

As is frequently the case with a barn found car, the interior ends up being littered with unassociated stuff, in this case, a speaker box, an owner’s manual, and some folded cardboard; it all precludes one from getting a thorough look at what’s there. That being the case here, I can’t tell you a lot about it. The upholstery appears to be a maroon velour-like fabric with darker insets. The instrument panel is wood-trimmed, the gauges look to be all there and the center horn pad and radio are both missing though the horn pad is perched on the driver’s seat. Beyond that, what can be spied of the carpet and door cards indicate that they are in OK condition.

Tough to make a call on this Mercedes. Being a California car should bode well for the overall body and underside integrity. I have encountered other w111’s that were so devoured by rust that a scrap dealer would have little interest. This car looks to be sound and complete. The big debate is the engine, is it salvageable or not?  Things seem a bit iffy here considering that three days into the listing and the opening bid is yet to be tendered. What do you think, bidders will show or the seller will have to drop his price?


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  1. Joshua Mortensen Staff

    I’m just glad that this Benz has “2 double corroborator[s]”. Hopefully, they can corroborate the seller’s claims! All joking aside, this actually looks like a good find. The starting bid seems a bit high to me, but if it really is solid and you can get it running, it might not be too out there.

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      I’d convert this sucker to a four-barrel corroborator.


      Like 2
  2. jo6pac

    Looks like a Euro addition because the cover head lights. I’ve never seen clothe seat covers in one maybe just covers?

    Like 1
    • stevee

      A European car is a possibility. Headlights and cloth interior. I have had four coupes of this era, 1961-67, three automatics and one manual shift. They were if memory serves me termed 220SEb/C. The sedans were 220SE as well.
      That era MB were not really US highway drivable— 65 mph was 4,000rpm. Sure were fun in town tho!

      • stevee

        Hmmm— the E was for fuel injected, which all my coupes were. Do not know about European versions, was there a 220S/C ? Or has there been a blending of car and engine from another car?

      • Magnus

        I had a ’64 220 SE that had been converted to a 220 S by adding a carburetor. A European model with cloth seats. Pretty much the same car as this but with two too many doors. The automatic would make this one sluggish; mine was a four speed manual with plenty of power.

      • Bill McCoskey


        I lived in central Germany when the 1960s era M-B 220 cars were plentiful, and I can tell you from personal experience they we often seen in the high speed lanes of the autobahns. This was back when the only speed limits were around the major cities, otherwise once out in the country, there was no speed limit, and these big 220 Mercedes cars would routinely pass me at well over 100MPH [not 100KPH], as my everyday car [1956 Chrysler Imperial] was limited to 100KPH [62MPH] due to it’s age. [It had a oval white vinyl decal with 100 in black numbers in the rear window.]

        Like 2
  3. doone

    My Benz service advisor has repeatedly told me “never own one past the warranty period”.

    Like 3
    • CJinSD

      To be fair, this car was made by a diametrically opposed Mercedes-Benz relative to the ChiCom-chasing one that exists today. A girl I was seeing in 2018 had a 2015 E350 4matic that was starting to get buggy with less than 40,000 miles. The dealer service department was shocked that she’d bought it instead of leasing, and basically blamed her for putting herself in a position to own a Mercedes-Benz for longer than they were meant to be in the hands of original renters. I don’t think that has anything to do with this car’s ownership prospects though. I’d avoid this because its got too little engine pushing too much car through an automatic transmission. At least the dual carburetion will ensure that it uses gas like an autobahn panzer.

      Like 1
  4. doone

    My Benz service advisor has repeatedly advised me to “never own one out of warranty”.

    Like 2
  5. David Frank David Frank Member

    I’ve owned mine with this same engine for 26 years without and major issues. It’s a world apart from newer Mercedes. My last modern Mercedes was an E320 wagon. That was the end of the line.

    Like 2
    • doone

      You were lucky. My 98 slk 230 bought new has 13000 orig miles. The dash is peeling and I’m going to let it continue because its black underneath but the real surprise was the Kompressor (supercharger or blower in English) going at 11k miles. They didn’t make the part anymore so the dealer got me a rebuilt and the bill was 2700. I rationalized the expense 2 ways $135 a year for 20 years and I couldn’t repurchase the car in this condition for that low. BTW I’ve spent more in oil changes than in fuel over the life of the car.

      Like 1

    I worked for a MB dealer from 1972-1982. Mercedes and other makers produce cars as an example in late 1963 that are designated as 1964 models.

    The introduction date could be later than the production date.

    I enjoy the articles and comments.

    Have a great day.

    Like 1
  7. stevee

    Hmm— usually E meant fuel injected in this vintage of Mercedes. Twin carbs is not ordinary. Is it an engine transplant, or a Euro option? There really ought to be a vin number stamped somewhere, but maybe the owner really does not want to find it?

  8. wjsvb

    It’s a 220S,with two carburetors. If it had fuel injection, it would be a 220SE. Car was available either way. The VIN will tell you the year, etc.

    Like 2
    • Mark Kurth

      Twin carb S model was sedan – only. 111 Coupes were always injected.

      Like 2
  9. RJ

    “Oh by the way, there is no VIN” Really? Who would willingly get involved with that can of worms?

    Like 3
  10. Maestro1 Member

    I am a former multiple Mercedes owner. I would pass on this one.

    Like 3
  11. John

    I’d suspect that if a full nuts and bolts restoration was done, the VIN number would magically re-appear along with the local constabulary. I’d sure take the motor numbers and run them past an MB expert to try to figure out what this thing is and perhaps who owns it. Without the VIN, I’m not sure it could properly even be sold for parts. Sad. These can be beautiful cars.

  12. impalaken68

    The VIN should be on the passenger side frame rail in the engine compartment.

    Like 1

    These are beautifully build cars. Solid and a pleasure to drive. Elegant styling and an imposing presence on the road. Start bid should be around the 7 mark in this condition and without knowing it’s VIN. Appreciating classic in the right hands!

  14. MCH

    I owned a ’61 220SE – it was VERY capable of exceeding 65mph. I have only seen injected coupes – so between carbs, cloth interior and covered headlights, I would bet dollars to donuts this is a Euro-spec car. If true, then rust is a greater threat than if it was (as mine was) a rust-free Southern CA car (which I imprudently drove during law school in Utah). Sadly the cost of restoration would be significant.

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