Sitting for 25 Years: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

This once-classy 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE had been sitting outside for 25 years, either during or after the period of time in which the owner passed away. As such, it has been neglected for eons, but it’s surprisingly still complete enough to possibly warrant restoration. Now, these cars are not so hard to find that you can’t wait for a better one to come along, and with an asking price of $2,500, it may make sense to. Working in its favor is a clean title and a decent interior – and, of course, the good looks of a mid-sized Mercedes sedan from the 1960s. Would you attempt a revival? Find the Mercedes here on craigslist in Edgemont, IL, and thanks to Barn Finds reader Gunter K. for the find. 

The 280SE was a fine performer when new, with a torquey inline six generating a respectable 180 horsepower. The sedans were classic German highway haulers, with road manners that outshined much of the luxury sedan competition from the U.S. and elsewhere. This era of bread-and-butter luxury sedan came with Bosch fuel injection, and four wheel disc brakes. For a Mercedes sedan, the curb weight wasn’t even all that bad, clocking in at under 3,500 pounds. It set the stage for what the E-Class would become reliably known for, which was smooth power, pleasant accommodations, and subdued elegance. This one may be a long way from its former grandeur, but it would likely look significantly better with a wash and wax. Despite its years of outdoor exposure, the chrome bumpers and hubcaps appear to present well.

The interior isn’t bad, either, and it’s a great color scheme. Assuming the outside returns to silver, that color combo will always find fans. The red carpeting is a nice feature too, but it’s hard to say what sort of damage the rodents have done. It’s interesting: I sold one of these a few years ago as a parts car with some rust in the body, and we got a similar price to what’s being asked here. Now, that was a V8 car, but the buyer was just after the interior because it was in very good condition and had a lot of NLA parts. Is this 280SE destined for a similar fate with a Mercedes enthusiast who is just looking for a treasure trove of spares?

Well, it depends on how bad the rust is, as photos show plenty of rust on the outside – what else lies beneath? The good news is  there are plenty of other project-grade Mercedes out there of this vintage with great bodies but in need of interiors, or complete drivetrains. To restore this one would be a serious labor of love given how many good quality examples still exist, so attempting to fix it versus just buying a decent driver isn’t the most sensible approach. Still, if you’re near Edgemont, Illinois, and want to save a car that was once someone’s pride and joy, this has been listed for nearly a month on craigslist and the seller may be eager to make a deal come together. Would you restore this vintage Mercedes sedan or part it out?


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  1. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    Jeff, I’m gonna say the rust and rodents seal it’s fate as parts. Lots of interior bits, could be a Becker still in the dash, wheels and trim all add up to the ask.

    Like 4
  2. Dave

    As long as the chassis is OK there’s nothing there that a good cleaning and a big block wouldn’t cure.

    Like 1
  3. Steve Clinton

    Sitting outside for 25 years with the window down. Smart move.

    Like 3
    • Dave

      I always wondered why people will leave windows open when they abandon a car.

  4. fred

    Listing a car for sale before even getting it loaded up onto the trailer just burns me up. I wonder if title jumping and dodging sales tax is even legal in that state; it isn’t in mine..

    There are two kinds of car people in this world, the car people that are only into the hobby for the love of cars (there are very few of us), and the un-car people that are only into it for the $$$…. I don’t have much respect for the latter.

    Like 3
  5. WayneS

    Just looked at the post. Plenty of pictures to base ones decision on. Sadly I have to agree with Oldog4tz and SteveC. The bones are rotted all that is left is the bits and pieces which may or may not be in as good as shape as the pictures show.

    Like 2
  6. Old Ford man

    The add says Barn find how is it a barn find when its been a yard ornament for 25+ years? Some cars just need to go to the crusher and that’s to bad because it was a fun car to drive at one time.

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