South African 1969 Mercedes 280S Find!


This site has really grown into an international community, with readers all over the globe! We always love to hear from our readers on other continents, so it was fun to chat with reader Marcell M from Johannesburg, South Africa about his Mercedes W108s 280s that he found a few months back. He has been busy trying to get it running again, but has had a few issues and decided he’d see if any of our Mercedes diesel fanatics can help him out!


From Marcell – Hi there! I found this 1969 Mercedes Benz W108 280S a few months ago. This 280S has been in the same family since the mid 70’s. In the early 90’s, when the owner’s son was using it as a student car, it overheated, gasket blew and they were under the impression that the engine seized. The car was parked ever since. Today (9th of April ’16) we fetched the 280S. We are committed to preserving original cars. That said, she will receive an engine overhaul and all other attention needed to get her back on the road!


We started with the process of rebuilding the engine. Luckily the engine isn’t seized, but we’re struggling to remove the head. So can anyone give Marcell some advice on how to get the head off of his W108?


  1. Luki

    The problem here is that Mercedes never made a 280S Diesel.

    • Cole

      True and never one that had plugs , wires , cap , rotor in it either

    • racer99

      With a distributor and spark plug wires.

  2. Doug coldwell

    That car has a distributor.

  3. Dan h

    Some of the OM617 cylinder heads can really be hard to pry off. Your probably going to have to carfully wedge a large flat blad screw driver into the head gasket at different corners of the head. It will began to separate from the block eventually. Obviously, make sure you have ALL the head bolts out first!

    • Dan h

      Same applies to the gas engine too! Lol! Just noticed the distributor!

  4. cj32769

    I would avoid wedges and make sure all of the small allen head bolts around the timing chain passage are out.

  5. jim s

    good luck with your project, please keep us updated. it is a gas motor. let us know how the head removal works out. thanks for sharing.

  6. Rotag999

    Is there Diesel in the tank ? ROFL

  7. Jon

    There are several forums that can be of help. I use the 113SL forum: engines in these are fuel injected while this car is carbureted, but head removal process should be similar and of help. Good luck!

  8. Mark S

    I love these cars I have Never owned one but have driven them when I was still wrenching for a living. I have read write ups on these and believe that they can be a life time car. Back then MB had very strict quality control as well as the use of the beast materials. I think if a person owned one of these and stayed on top of basic maintenance it could possibly last you your life time. And they look cool too, das auto is very nice.

  9. Ross

    Mark, I like your “Beast Materials” typo

  10. Horse Radish

    Mistake number one:
    If the engine was N O T seized as described, the cam should have stayed on the head,
    Number two Set, Timing to TDC on cylinder one. Then remove head (manifolds, bolts in order as required.)
    All that while keeping in mind to facilitate re-assembly and getting her running again….

    Should have looked at a book first.

  11. Chris A.

    cj32769 gave you critical advice. If you try to remove the head without withdrawing the timing case allen bolts you will crack the head. These are precision engines, To properly strip down and rebuild one you need a shop manual and proper tools. I’ve rebuilt two MB 6 cylinder engines and you need to be organized and methodical with a clean work area. Be very careful to not damage any aluminum mating surface. Good luck.

  12. Josh Staff

    Sorry guys, that was my bad. For some reason when I saw the S in 280S, I processed it as a D. My apologies for the mistake!

  13. Pierre

    First of all get an 8 millimeter Allen socket. Second, you’re going to need the 108, 109, 111, 1:13 service manual starting in 1968. You’re also going to need the 1968 1969 or 1970 technical data manual. What happened to the engine so that it requires a rebuild?

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