Live Auctions

Barn Pagoda: 1968 Mercedes 280SL

It may be entertaining to drive around looking for old cars, but sometimes the best way to make a discovery is to search through old records. That’s exactly how reader Cynthia found this 1968 Mercedes Benz 280sl, which has been parked in this barn for the past 21 years. She called the last owner, found out the car was still parked in his barn, and made a trip to look at it. After buying it, digging it out, and moving it to storage, she has decided to sell it on.

The previous owner, Jimmy, bought the car from the original owner’s estate in 1989. He had the car serviced and then parked it in his barn, where it stayed until Cynthia purchased it. Cynthia has yet to clean the car and it’s still wearing the dust accumulated over the years. It also inlcudes all of its original documentation, all the way back to when it was purchased new at Van Winkle Mercedes of Dallas, Texas.

The 280sl was the 300sl’s replacement and borrowed styling cues from its predecessor both inside and out. The interior looks complete and solid, but needs a good cleaning. The 280sl was initially meant to be a sports car, but ended up being more of a grand tourer. Thankfully the relatively short and wide wheelbase gave the car respectable handling, making it both fun and comfortable to drive.

Like the 300sl, the 280sl made use of a straight six engine, but this 2.8l engine wasn’t nearly as powerful. This M130 series engine produced 170 horsepower and 180 pounds of torque, which gave it decent performance for its time. Cynthia hasn’t tried to start the engine yet, but it was supposedly running when it was parked, so hopefully there are no major problems.

This might not be a 300sl, but its still a great car to drive and they are starting to become quite collectable. There were only about 6,000 of these built in ’68 and about half made it our way, so original examples are getting hard to find. As long as there isn’t any major mechanical issues or rust, it is worth a decent amount of money. Cynthia is asking $29,000 and is willing to consider offers. If your interested, click here to send her an email. It is currently in a storage unit in Dallas, Texas. She has taken lots of photos of the car and we have included a few below:


  1. J. Pickett

    Who has the money to buy even a used Mercedes sports car and just put it away?

    Like 1
  2. Dolphin Member

    Almost 29000 of these were made from 1968-71, so they aren’t rare. Values are modest for a vintage open M-B—about $45-80K in excellent shape with the hard top. This one has the latter but not the former, so a thorough PPI will tell how much care & attention it needs and whether the $29K ask is reasonable. After 21 years not running you would need to know whether the engine even turns over or whether it has seized. Another big question is the auto transmission’s condition. Then the body……topside looks unmolested and may be acceptable once cleaned up, and so does the interior, but the underside, drivetrain, shocks, electrics all need careful checking. Add up the costs, subtract from the cost of a good 280Sl, and that’s what you can pay for this one.

  3. scot c

    ~ i absolutely love these. why didn’t i find this ?!? don’t even care what condition it’s in. gimme!

  4. scot c

    ~ follow-up to 190-SL rather than 300-SL in my opinion.

  5. John Allison

    The picture of the right front end has the look of a repair to the fender that is peeling. This car needs some serious repair work! Too much for the asking price. They most likely paid half that or less for the car and just turning it!

    • Clay

      Serious work?It’s all serious work.Body seams are straight from what I see.If major repair they put it back together right.You assume too much without looking at it in person.If I’ve bumped a corner,I fix it too.Most likely paid half….I wasn’t there.Too much…………..ya.But she’s a woman with smarts.If she doesn’t sell it,it was a good find and I’ve seen men start on total pieces of toast and pay a lot more.

    • mbzgurl

      No damage anywhere on the car. Not even a ding. No peeling either. Bird droppings and water drip marks on the fender and hood came from the beams above the car caused from leaks in the roof of the barn might look like peeling. Check out the 5th picture, of the flat tire. Then look at the car on the trailer. Same tires aired right up! The engine hand turned. Brakes worked. Everything worked. No problems with the car.

  6. Rick Prokopchuk

    Aren’t those European headlights? I almost bought a 280 sl while stationed in Germany in 1976, and the lights on this look awfully european.

    • PagodaMan

      Rick, these headlights are awfully american. European versions have a better and clean desing that follows body lines perfectly.
      Almost all american versions of european cars have indeed awful headlights versions altering original design based on american security standards.
      IE: Citroen SM, Citroen DS, Peugeot 505, etc, etc…

    • ssimports

      Those are US headlights: 7″ sealed beam

      • mbzgurl

        Well, lets see now. 125 days ago I didn’t notice it was you “ssimports”, Well hello there. LOL At least someone here knows me. Thanks, W

    • mbzgurl

      Not European.
      Early 280SL headlights – AC type up to Chassis # ending in 005607 (about 10/68).

  7. Horse Radish

    at that price it will NOT sell without any effort or even filthy as it is.
    More like a $12k car, that’s if it runs…..

    • mbzgurl

      The dust on the car yielded a higher price than what we were asking. The car actually sold before this article was published. Sold extremely fast without effort.
      In this case, “Not dirt cheap.”

  8. Mbzgurl

    @John A, no accidents, no rust ever, no stories. It is what it is. 67,000 original miles, original paint, original interior, original spare tire, even has the original key fob and original bill of sale. Included are all the receipts and service records since new, all the books, the complete set of tools with the canvas bag. The hardtop has never even been removed. Tires aired right up, rolled right out and looks pretty good. The bumperettes are not correct. It will need a wash, and a revival. I bought another 280sl a day before the owner decided to sell this one. Unfortunately, I can’t keep both of them.

  9. PagodaMan

    Rick, these headlights are awfully american. European versions have a better and clean desing that follows body lines perfectly.
    Almost all american versions of european cars have indeed awful headlights versions altering original design based on american security standards.
    IE: Citroen SM, Citroen DS, Peugeot 505, etc, etc…

    Like 1
  10. Jeff

    The SL series by MB is in my opinion the best of the best, what history it has! This car needs a thorough make-over but looks complete. 29K is VERY optomistic, under 10K would be a deal and tempting. Engine & interior needs ??????

  11. Tony

    More interested in the flat head four and gearbox in front of it, does the owner read these posts? What is that engine?

    • sabeletodo

      1928-34 Ford four cylinder, probably from a Model A. If a later engine/trans (1932 on) it is better: counter-weighted crank and full pressure oiling and a sychronized tranny if it is like the V-8s.

      • mbzgurl

        I actually got almost as many calls for that engine as I did the car.

  12. Law Fisk

    Doesn’t get any flipper than this. Ridiculous price for a vehicle in unknown condition that they’ve added no value to besides a flatbed tow.

  13. Chris

    If it spent it’s life in TX rust might not be an issue. You’d think the guy who parked this could have put it up on blocks and at least thrown a sheet or two over it. These are complex and expensive cars to just get running, let alone really restore. The slush box auto was nothing special compared to the 4 speed or rare ZF 5 spd. Anything that held fluid will need to be flushed and you can expect corrosion. Brake calipers are probably frozen, gas tank and lines will need serious attention as any rust particles will clog the fuel filters and won’t help the fuel injection unit. Needs tires too.Although it looks complete, this one is a money pit. Considering what has to be done and the expense, $29K is not realistic for this car, mid to high teens feels about right. I think John Allison called it about right.

    • Mbzgurl

      Chris, you are correct. All of the above it will need. It sold sight-unseen to Germany before it was featured on this website. It will be a good base start for a restoration. Apparently, it was priced right and worth every penny, because, the phone is still ringing.

  14. Rancho Bella

    These are still driven around my area. There is one guy that parks his outside on the street with the top down 24/7 in the summer. Of course not….a good idea.

    I find them cute, slow and dare I say…….boring.

  15. paul

    29,000, Cinthia, 29,000, really ….. next!

    • Mbzgurl

      Paul, really? Sold it. Price was right, no complaints.

  16. erikj

    I agree 29,000 way over the mark as-is. I have had a few cars though the years that had been put away for 20-30 years or so all stored in side and dry and all either froze motors or all rubbers were rotten—the list goes on. This m/b is preaty neat,but for the asking price at least find out if the motor turns over.

  17. Johnd

    Waaayyyyyy over market . .. I like flippers, they make the market more efficient . . . . But this trancends flipping and creeps over the line to greedy . . .. Bought mine, runnind, for less than half that a few short years ago . .. And if nobody has tried to start it, why is the only think clean/new in the engine compartment the air intake hose. Looks like somebody tried and got some bad news . . . .

    • Mbzgurl


  18. scot c

    ~ @ Mbzgurl,
    . great find, Cynthia. we obviously share an admiration for the SLs, these are my favorite. hope the other example brings utmost pleasure, and that this finds a good home.

    Like 1
    • Mbzgurl

      Thanks Scot,
      I’m sure it has a happy new owner. These Pagota’ s are known to be a ladies car. I have owned many SL’s including 129’s, and 107’s, but these little 113’s are my favorite.

  19. Jeff

    I bought a 78′ 450SL off the internet (560SL conversion i.e. badges, trunk brake light, front air dam, rims etc) 79K orig miles, euro car, re-titled) absolutely gorgeous paint/chrome & interior, new tires. Car was in Conn. flew from WI., drove it straight home (15hrs). Was asking 9.7K offered 9K, got it. Drove it for 3 yrs, sold for 12K. Moral: As most know there are deals out there, this one is far from it.

  20. Chris

    MB sure changed their marketing when they went from the 230,250,280 SL’s to the 350,450 SLseries. Not surprised Jeff’s 450 SLwas trouble free, they weren’t called Panzers out of disrespect. Those cars were really built, the 280 is more fragile and highly stressed than the Panzers. But the factory 280’s weren’t dogs at all, they did well on the European rally circuit. I’d like a good European version with the hot engine, limited slip rear and the 5 speed. They could be more than cruisers.

    Like 1
    • mbzgurl

      I have 3 ZF’s for sale. 230, 250, and a 280…

  21. Billy Brantingham

    Nice Model A engine in the foreground of the garage pic.

    • Mbzgurl

      The owner collects antique Fords, probably why he didn’t drive the Benz. I got just as many calls for that engine as I did the 280sl.

  22. Classic Car Biz

    This Mercedes Benz was sold to Germany for $35,000.
    I spoke with the German buyer yesterday. He flew out and paid the car!
    Looks like Cynthia does know what shes doing.

    Like 1
  23. mbzgurl

    CCBiz is correct. Interesting comments. Five years ago, you could buy a 300sl for $300k. Five years ago DB’s roadster sold for $850k and people thought that was insane. Not anymore. The Classic Center sold a 280sl for $250k a couple months ago. Some people are still digesting that one. I think the German knows what he’s doing. So do I.

  24. Chris in WNC

    who cares about the Mercedes? I want the Model A engine/trans and rear axle from the first photo. love that round vacuum cleaner too……..

    • sabeletodo

      The vac is a Hoover Constellation. It doesn’t have wheels; it exhausts down so the vacuum floats like a hovercraft. That’s an old one based on the color, made between 1954 and 1975, but they were reissued from 2006 to 2009 and you can still get them on the Hoover website.

      Like 1
    • Mbzgurl

      That’s funny.

  25. 455Bob

    This car would be no fun to drive. I owned one 30 years ago and so happy I sold it.

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