Bring (Old) Money: 1963 Mercedes-Benz 190D Wagon

No car says “old money” quite like a Mercedes-Benz station wagon—wagon buyers are known to be some of M-B’s wealthiest and most loyal customers—but before 1977 (’79 in the States) it took even more money to get your hands on a Mercedes longroof because back then you were looking at a coachbuilt car. These are rare and quite valuable, so if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves you could see a handsome return on the $10,000 asking price of this resto-ready ’63 190D wagon, offered on craigslist out of Auburn, California, and enjoy a really unique Mercedes in the meantime (archived ad). At that price, you’ll need to put out significantly less of your inheritance than the last time we saw this wagon, when it had a $25,000 Buy-it-Now. This car is special enough, and now enough of a real bargain, that we thought it was worth a second look.

The W110-chassis Mercedes, built from 1960-67, are referred to as Heckflosse, or “fintails,” thanks to their vogueish styling. It’s worth noting that, at the time these were designed, Mercedes were sold in the U.S. by Studebaker dealers, and there was some intentional resemblance in styling between the two companies during that period. This wagon conversion was done in Lorch, Germany by Binz Karroserie, and if you’re wondering about the high roofline, it’s there because this same basic conversion formed the basis for ambulances and hearses as well as regular wagons. In 1965, Belgian Mercedes importer IMA introduced a factory-sanctioned wagon with a more attractive, lower roofline, the “Universal.” None of these are common, but the Binz wagons are perhaps even less so than the IMA versions.

The good news is that this car is a 190D—that’s D for the Mercedes diesel, one of the most rugged, longest-lasting automotive powerplants ever built, and, true to form, this one is running and drivable. Little detail is given in the ad about what needs this car has, other than the tersely unhelpful “needs restoration,” but the mechanical side of the equation is likely to be the easy and (relatively) inexpensive part.

We get into bad news territory when we start contemplating potential problems with the wagon-specific parts of this car, and there may indeed be cause for concern here. There are, unfortunately, no more detailed photos in the ad than these, but we can see some corrosion on the tailgate and in the tailgate jamb. I’d definitely want to get up close and inspect the severity of these issues, since any repairs needed here would have to be entirely fabricated from scratch.

Things look pretty decent up in the passenger area, although the rear seat doesn’t look quite as robust as the fronts. Upholstery appears to be genuine leather, not the MB-Tex vinyl more commonly found on 190Ds, as befits the higher original price of this special car. If the rust around back isn’t as bad as it looks (hey, I’m an optimist), this could be a relatively simple restoration with a lot of upside. For many, that upside might be purely financial, but for me I think it would be actually driving and using this beautiful, unique wagon, and feeling completely “old money!”

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Peter S.R. Member

    This car has been bouncing around on-line for some time recently. If I’m not mistaken, BAT featured it sometime back. Certainly worthy at some price…

  2. Wolfgang Gullich

    Actually a really good price. These Fintail wagons are extremely rare and will only appreciate in value. Added bonus is the stupid simple drivetrain with easily source mechanical parts. Wagon-specific trim and body panels are made from unobtainium though.

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      You have no idea how much trouble I would be in if I had $10,000 to spare. I ache for this car.

  3. Rodney

    That “old money” feels comes with a very “hearse-like” vibe.
    Mick Jagger said it best,
    “I wanna see it painted, painted black
    Black as night, black as coal
    I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
    I wanna see it painted, painted, painted
    painted black
    Yeah”

  4. Dave Wright

    The Germans didn’t really like “station wagons” they considered them salesmans cars and salesmen were not considered to be on a very high rung in society. Many of these cars were either hearses or ambulances. Off course…..Mercedes never built them…..until the late 70’s……..and didn’t like them either. This one looks very nice.

    • macvaugh

      The old money that liked these cars didn’t seem to be Germany. I’ve seen them as estate cars in places like South Africa, and the resort areas of the US and Canada, like Victoria, BC, Palm Springs, Key West, Cape Cod, and Newport RI.

  5. Cargirl

    I never thought I could say this about a vintage Mercedes Benz having put half my life savings into one over the last few years (and a diesel at that) but I don’t like it. It looks like a hearse and their is nothing cool about driving a hearse around town at my age. Too ironic.

    • Marshall

      I hear that! I had a friend once that loved Cadillacs and despised Volkswagens. But when I once pointed out to him an old Cadillac hearse while we were driving around, saying, “aint it so fine?”, he said tersely, “I would rather drive Herbie!. (At the time, I had a 1962 sunroof bug that I decked out like Herbie the love bug)

      As concerning that Mercy wagon, I’m not sure that really counts as a true station wagon on account of the high roof.

  6. Peter K

    @cargirl: The real cool thing about Mercedes wagons is that there is enough room in the engine bay for a crate 350 and a T-5 tranny. Make the conversion and go street racing in the plain jane livery. I have a big 450sel 6.9 that has broken many rice rocket owners hearts.

  7. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking Mercedes-Benz wagon. I regret that I’ve never seen one in person. I’m told that for some reason, the Fintail (Heckflosse) Mercedes-Benz didn’t sell very well in the USA, and I don’t remember ever seeing a station wagon version.

  8. Cargirl

    @ Peter K Funny you should mention that. My daily driver is a 1980 300cd. Just had a turbo engine put in and am currently having a transmission put in. She weighs about 3,600 pounds and is front wheel drive. My dream is to take her ice racing in Wisconsin.

  9. -Nate

    Laughing ~ you folks completely miss the fact that it sold last time for more than twice the asking price, this means the owner realized what a big job it is to stop the rust and make it even a decent driver .

    No way this lump is worth $10K , no undercarriage photos means it’s bad, really bad .

    Claims its running but no battery and no current tags…

    Notice no mention of the old half removed added on AC unit either . plenty of surprises waiting for the inexperienced Enthusiast who gets suckered into buying this lump .

    I hope someone saves it but ‘rare’ doesn’t automatically mean valuable .

    -Nate

  10. Steve H

    I really like this car but I’d have to see that rust up close. If the tailgate is bad, then what about the floorboards. No pics of those of course. Buyer beware!

  11. JRATT1956

    I own a 1966 250 SE with the 6 cyl mechanical fuel injected gas engine. I would love to have this diesel wagon. But, I would be a buyer at $6,000. I only paid $2,500 for my 66 in 2012. There are many NOS parts available for old Mercedes.
    I think I could do some of the work myself, but I would still need $15K to do it right, some money to be made there, just not sure it would be a lot.
    Too many of the collectors want the 2 door models and those prices are sky high.

  12. Peter Atherton

    One major caveat:RUST!I’ve actually seen one break in half….I own a 1967 Universal,had it since 1974,and it has required all new floors, rocker panels, and other bits and pieces; thank heavens for Mercedes-Benz Classic in California,who had all the NOS parts(albeit at a hefty price)

    • JRATT1956

      Peter, You are right about the rust, I may end up parting my 66 out, a slow process but it might be worth more that way.

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