Euro Delivery: 1973 Mercedes 280SE

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One thing you have to give the German makes credit for is their European delivery program. This often involves getting some advantageous pricing on a new car in order to compensate for the plane fare and hotel expenses to arrive in Europe to pick up your new car. Now, this 1973 Mercedes 280SE here on craigslist wasn’t exactly ordered that way, but it was driven throughout Germany when new and shipped home shortly thereafter, adding to the history of this one-owner Benz. 

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According to the listing, the seller’s mother purchased the car new when she was living overseas. Kudos to her for liking her car so much she had it shipped home, which was a trend more commonly associated with servicemen returning home and wanting to take their project car with them. As a 1973 model with the 4.5L V8, this is likely one of the last runs of production for the W108 chassis.

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The seller claims the body is in good shape with no prior accident damage to report. As a California car since new, it is rust free. From the angles presented, it appears the original hubcaps are present along with correct trim and clean chrome. The European-style glass headlights would be a must-do upgrade for me, but I wouldn’t change much else aside from performing the requisite maintenance items.

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If you’re out of town this week, you’re in luck: so is the owner, who can only show the car on weekends. The $3,000 asking price seems quite fair if the car is indeed as presented, but we were not offered any interior photos. I can only hope the insides are as good as the outside of the car, but the fact that no one’s attempted to start it is either an indicator of a seller who knows the car has a starting issue or people who genuinely don’t want to do any damage to a vehicle that’s been sleeping for a while. You’ll have to inspect it in person to find out. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Michael N. for the find!

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. ydnar

    That is dirt cheap for this car, the Euro lights may cost more than the car. A Euro spec car to boot. That 4.5 engine purrs like a kitten.

  2. jsilves1@tampabay.rr.com

    Gotta watch out for these older Mercedes from Europe.. When brought to the U.S., they were called “Grey Cars”.. outfitted with whatever it took to meet our safety and emission standards. Repair manuals and mechanics were not available to maintain them and parts were no where to be found. There just wasn’t enough information to repair them if needed. So,, Beware of these low priced buggies .. there may be an unexpected catch …

  3. Dan h

    Not $3k anymore. Lots of phone calls making the price go up. How lame.

    • ydnar

      The ad still shows 3K. I’d say this car is double the 3K easily, if it runs w/o issues.

  4. Cassidy

    Good advice! i’m hoping after all these years, repairs will be a bit easier! I’m tempted to go check it out. Anyone want a personal inspection?

  5. ydnar

    This old of a model probably did not have much if any difference from the US model other than HP, if that. I would not be afraid of this car at all. I do recall that some of the Euro delivery cars were US spec delivered to US citizens to be brought home eventually.

  6. audifan

    This car is a US model delivered in Europe.
    The 4.5 liter in the W108/109 was only available for the US market. Definitely not a “grey market car”
    Production of this model ended in November 1972, so this one could be a very late edition.

  7. Dolphin Member

    Agree with ydnar, if the condition of car is as it seems, this is a deal for someone who likes these ’70s V8 M-Bs. A one-owner blue plate California car like this for $3K in what looks like really good condition must be a pretty rare thing these days.

    The mileage should not be too much of a concern if there’s no evidence of serious neglect or abuse. And it’s in a dry, mostly sunny, upscale location, so there’s a chance the mechanicals weren’t neglected or abused while it was on the road. Biggest issue is likely the 30 years of sitting, old gas, and dried out components like seals and rubber parts.

    Too bad the reseller didn’t bother to provide much useful information or decent photos of anything more than some of the corners of the car. Got to assume it has an engine, an interior, a trunk that has a floor, etc, etc. If interested go there ASAP with cash.

  8. Dan

    I agree with audifan.
    The 280 SE 4.5, as well as all other W108/109 4.5 models, were made only for North America. There never were any European 4.5 models of the W108/109 chassis in Europe.
    I can understand this being a European delivery car whose purchase took place in the U.S. for delivery in Europe to then be shipped to the U.S., but I cannot understand how this car was possibly sold in Europe and then brought to the U.S. as this model was not available in Europe. As expected, this car has U.S. headlights and side marker lights since it’s a regular U.S. spec car.
    As far as the engine is concerned, this is the U.S.-market low compression M117 engine with 8:0 compression ratio. It has 230 hp SAE gross corresponding to approximately 195 hp SAE net (used today). The European version of this engine ran on higher compression and had 225 PS DIN (= 222 hp SAE net).

  9. Wabbit

    I have a v8 Mercedes sitting out in My pasture but I think it is a much newer Mercedes than this, parked cause the timing tenisioners wore out, looked much nicer than this when I parked it an the interior was near flawless, lol maybe I need to go take a look again cause I was thinking it needed to go to the crusher, figured it wasn’t worth fixing.

    • kman

      You’re probably right, Now! Another valuable vehicle which could have brought someone a lot of pleasure. Timing tensioners? Not exactly comparable to a Saturn V rocket.

      Sorry about the car but I almost hope it is ruined since you were so thoughtless and uncaring you don’t deserve to be rewarded for it.

      Good luck!

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