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Ex-Parts Car Project: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 V8 Coupe

It doesn’t exactly fill you with a lot of confidence when someone describes a car as a Barn Find and an ex-parts car. However, it seems like although it was a parts car, very few parts were actually removed from it. These old Mercedes really appeal to me, they are generally good quality, exude class, and are getting rarer on the streets. I think this one requires a thorough inspection before purchase to see just how many parts have gone off this car – which was likely last on the road in 1997. If you are interested, the car is available for sale in Louisville, Kentucky and you can view the auction on eBay here where there are 2 days left on the listing and no reserve with the highest bid at $20,000.

This is the W111 model, with and is a great classic design, almost timeless in fact. I gush over this as I would definitely want to own one myself one day. This 1971 would have been in the last year of manufacture and had the classic fin-tails, called Heckflosse in German. This comes with the 2.8l M130 engine which produced 160hp. Luckily our car today comes with its engine, and the seller states that it spins freely.

Having a look at the photos of the car, it appears on the surface to be in reasonable condition for a 50-year-old car. There are no massive patches of terminal rust, the only large rust patch is the paintwork on the hood. Underneath the car, we can see some more serious rust, in the wheel arches and the front bumper appears to be corroding, but nothing terminal. Given its condition, I would be tempted to leave the patina look and fix the mechanicals and get on top of the rusty parts before it gets worse. The real delight in this car though is the interior which is in great condition from the photos – the wood dash is intact and looks good. The black leather seats have some rips in them but are easily repairable.

It’s amazing to see a 280SE Coupe in great condition, and given there are over 50 bidders already there is a lot of interest in the car. Given this is a dream car on my list, I am a bit biased – so does this classic Mercedes have the same pull for you as it does for me, and would you want to own this Euro barge to cruise around the streets of the US?


  1. alphasud Member

    Coupes and convertibles bring strong money in good condition. The interior is a big hurdle overcome with furniture in good shape. Reupholster the drivers seat and focus on the rust. D-jetronic is better than Mechanical or CIS to get going after a long slumber but still a challenge. Strong bidding suggests other people see a hidden gem. It would be a little too daunting for me on the body side to things. Rust is always worse than what you see.

    Like 1
  2. 8banger 8banger Member

    The wifey has an ’83 380SL and we love it. Had it converted to a double-roller, and don’t be fooled, she is very quick.

    • 8banger 8banger Member

      And it came up from Texas to Colorado – no rust to speak of…

  3. JCA Member

    People like to advertise cars as a parts car when they have no title, which seems to be what happened here. Even though it really doesn’t protect you from reselling something that may be stolen and you can’t prove that you own it either. The flipper is just mentioning it but it was never a parts car to begin with.

    Like 4
  4. Raoul-F Raoul-F Member

    This has the 200hp 3.5 litre V8

    Like 1
  5. Howard A Member

    It’s no mystery why cars, nay, AUTOMOBILES like this were conveniently hidden from view in Beer City in the 70s. They were superior in every way, and can’t have that when Gremlins were our bread and butter. It sure is the nicest looking M-B, although, probably a mechanical nightmare. Germans didn’t need to have vehicles that allegedly smoke the tires on every deserted street corner, and probably laugh at us for doing so. This was high class all the way, not some regurgitated tin can from the 70s.

    Like 3
  6. 57Wayne

    The title indicates it has the M116 3.5L V-8, and the picture shows that. That is a very nice engine, and more desirable than the 2.8L, at least in my book.

  7. frank

    puuuh, a nice car if in gold condition…. be sure you need a lot of cash for owen a gem ;)

  8. Mitch

    This is a polished turd. With engine running 6000.- not running
    2500.-, too much rust too much welding necessary. Brakes
    and suspension maybe also worn as typical on such old cars.
    Unkempt engine compartment and too much rust there. Sure,
    rust can be removed but not by painting over it with some kind
    of converter. Then it will rust again.

    The rims look as taken from a BMW E7 or something else.

  9. FOG

    I would sooooo have this car! Has all the right boxes checked on this for me.

  10. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    My restoration shop has tackled major rust on the underside of these coupes and convertibles, and it can be a very expensive proposition, especially for a car coming from the rust belt area of north America. Before I put in a serious bid for this car, I would want an expert to check it over AND UNDER as well. A badly rusted situation can quickly consume $20k in repairs to the underside of the body & frame.

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