In the Country: 1973 Mercedes 300SEL

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One of the more curious aspects of researching cars for Barn Finds is the description  given in the listing. Take, for instance, this 1973 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 4.5 here on eBay. It’s clearly been sitting for a while, a condition that developed after the seller took it “down to the country” – whatever that means. This country-stored Benz has a sagging air suspension and needy interior but bidding is only at about $500, though the reserve remains unmet. 

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Mercedes sedans of this vintage are not unusual to find in project-car condition. The air suspension is finicky and expensive, and the interiors aren’t cheap to set right. This one will need everything inside, from new leather (or MB-Tex, depending on configuration), though the seller does say the wood dash isn’t beyond restoring. You can bet moisture and critters have found their way inside thanks to a failed passenger rear window that’s left stuck open.

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The seller claims the car was running when they took it down to the country, which appears to be deep in rural Virginia. As a member of the W109 family, this 300SEL sports a 4.5L M117 V8 engine, good for 195 b.h.p. and 264 lb. ft. of torque. That’s a healthy amount of power no matter how you look at it, but this particular example will need a good deal of re-commissioning before those ponies are stirred from their slumber.

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The other photos will show that the collapsed air suspension has placed this 300SEL on its belly, leaving the floorpan exposed to the consequences of dirt and moisture. The seller claims this Benz received some form of undercoating, but that’s not exactly reassuring for a car that’s clearly been stationary for a few years. Still, that 4.5 was a formidable motor back in the day and it’d be rewarding to hear it fire up again. What’s that sensation worth to you?

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Comments

  1. MountainMan

    As much as I like this model I think it would be a much better option to buy one that’s in better shape. I would rather spend my money on one that’s still a runner or even better a older restoration or decent survivor. the many unknowns can get rather expensive so maybe this cars body is straight and rust free enough to make a restoration make sense but I’ve seen running ,driving examples that look pretty good for used Hyundai money

  2. Zaphod

    These are just awful cars, and this is another example of “its a Benz it’s worth money” thinking. If you think Royce’s rust ( and I know they do) these cars will give you a rustgasm. The engine’s a nice enough lump but the rest of the beast is just terrible. I chopped mine up and used the motor in a boat – which sank. dig a ditch next to it and roll it in.

  3. L.M.K. Member

    I own this same car and love it , but regardless of what your personal opinion is of this or any car, leaving a car to just rot in this manner is just ridiculous. I have rescued these in similar condition and would rescue this one too. I couldn’t be certain if it would be a parts car or a candidate for revival until doing a thorough inspection.

  4. doug6423

    I have a very solid 109 chassis with a lot of new sheet metal. Combine the two and have a nice one. Mine is a ’71 300SEL 3.5 with a manual 4 speed trans. Sell the 3.5 engine to a coupe/convertible person looking to clone one into a 3.5 wannabe. If interested let me know, I will consider parting it in about a month…

    • Jeff Staff

      Doug, why don’t you drop us a line to let us know about your project part-out? Could be an interesting write-up and worthwhile to Benz enthusiasts looking for good, used parts.

  5. Eric Dashman

    I had a 1970 250 that I bought from someone in Richmond, VA. It looked decent for the $1500 I paid. That was when I was young and stupid…..actually, just stupid and not so young (you think you’d learn from other mistakes made, but nooooo). Towed it home (without detaching the driveshaft from the automatic trans), and of course, I had to replace the transmission from a junkyard. When I finally got it running, it was a comfortable car, but the price of parts was a killer. A $35 GM heater fan cost $225 for an MB, and you had to remove the dashboard to replace it. What a terrible job that was. On top of it all, that nice paint job hid a bunch of the tin worm, which I duly repaired with bondo as was appropriate for that particular car (sarcasm off). The dual 4 barrel carbs were a bear to get rebuilt and synched. I had to resort to taking it to a bona fide MB expert in town to get it right. Never again. I look at 350 SLs and 450 SLs and remind myself of the cost of parts. The current subject car is going to be a costly mess to get right. Unless you know that air ride suspension inside and out, and have parts cars for the interior ruin, and aren’t afraid of the rust awaiting you underneath, stay away! Forewarned is forearmed.

    • Dave Wright

      Great……..That leaves more of them for guys like me that can afford and appreciate them.

    • Jeff Staff

      For me, I shudder to think about how much time I spend hunting down parts and where to find the best prices. If you stop at the first website or junkyard you see, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll pay too much. Parts hunting is fun for me, though, so it depends on where your priorities and interests are.

      • Dave Wright

        You are absolutely on point. We all need a common pickup to drive that you can support from NAPA……. The other point is, what other
        manufacturer can you get a new part for your 40 year old car from? The oriental makers won’t support cars 5 years old.

  6. NickF

    IMO the 280 SEL 4.5 would be a better find with its mechanical self levelling suspension. Remarkably comfortable car to be a passenger or driver. Mine was a console mounted stick instead of column mounted but other than that pretty much identical cars. This one is well past its condition value but there are many expensive parts which could be salvaged. The sagging windows were often a result of a warped window regulator – fortunately it uses the same regulator front and rear.

  7. Rev Rory

    Listen to Dave W…

  8. Walter

    They will never build them again, once they have gone they’re gone.

    To see any w109 300sel Mercedes-Benz like this is a sin, the owner wants slapping silly and some. Ha ha.

    300SEL are for family inheritance, not for a life full of a few Christmases.

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