Gray Market Field Find! 1981 Mercedes 280SL

Barn Finds reader Sean S. sent in these photos of a long-forgotten R107-chassis Mercedes-Benz 280SL, parked on a farm in Georgia many years ago. It’s a desirable Euro-spec car, complete with a manual transmission, crank windows, and glass headlights, but don’t let the 450SL badge fool you: it has the venerable M110 inline-six under the hood, with the incorrect trunk adornment installed merely to keep any nosy customs agents or inspection stations in the dark. 

Sean notes that the car was used for road rallies back in the day, and that the manual gearbox paired with the inline-six motor and a free-flowing exhaust made a great noise. The car was lightly restored years ago, but later parked when the cost of repair outpaced the SL’s value at the time. These days, the brambles are the only thing keeping it company while it awaits extraction.

The interior reveals how nature doesn’t stop growing even when vintage cars stop moving, but it doesn’t look so far overrun that a weed-eater couldn’t clean it out in short order. The dash even appears to be crack-free and the seats aren’t a lost cause – yet. Crank windows keep things simple inside, and the rare-for-the-U.S. manual transmission is a desirable find among SL enthusiasts.

Here’s the real killer: reader Sean included this picture of what the car looked like back in the day, before its retirement to the farm. With that gorgeous paint and rust-free body, it’s apparent this was once a beautiful example of a rare gray-market R107. While it’s a shame to see it living out its days in the weeds, something tells me it won’t be there forever – especially with that robust, can’t kill it M110 motor under the hood. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Sean for sending these pictures in.

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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    So, back in the day, the decision was made to drive/push/drag the “lightly restored” car into the middle of the field. Where is the logic in this? There appear to be some outbuildings on the property, which would could possibly have sheltered the car all these years, but the owner thought the middle of the field was a better idea?

    And it’s in Florida, so let me guess: it’s on craigslist, asking $20,000.

  2. j liu

    Sad, sad, sad. Destruction for no reason. Tired of the car? Then garage it, sell it, or give it away but to let a once beautiful and rare car self destruct in a field? Pure idiocy.

  3. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Strange things some people do. I can’t think of any time these have been worth so little they should be abused.

  4. grant

    The cost of repairs outpaced the SLs value at the time. So what we’ve got here is a broken, abandoned, neglected car. Awesome.

  5. Aaron

    I found a red 560SL in pretty much the same predicament (but in Canada, so it was rusty too). The paint was faded to pink, the interior was mouldy and it was full of mice.

    The “mechanic” who was “storing” it for a customer said he had seized the engine by revving it before he parked it, so it sat in a field for 5 years. I decided to take a gamble and bought the thing, stuck a used starter on it, drained and cleaned the fuel system and it ran great. That remains the only car I’ve ever made a real profit on.

  6. Rex Kahrs Member

    The other weird thing here is that Florida doesn’t look like Florida in the pictures. More like Ohio.

  7. sean sinkule

    Its actually North Ga mountains

  8. Mark

    Is the car actually for sale? It would be interesting to see how much they are asking for it or where the bidding is at its time. Overall looks like it could be a great car if you could get it for a reasonable price.

  9. peter r

    I’d be intersted in buying it as a parts car – where? how much? etc.

  10. rustynutz

    SAD to see one of these end up like that, wifey has just got one of these and its not to bad with a 3.5 litre V8 it sounds even better than my Ranchero, should be an easy restor!


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