Teutonic Convertible: 1968 Mercedes 280SL

1968 Mercedes 280SL

Mid-60’s Mercedes have a well-earned reputation of being rock-solid and reliable, if not overly dynamic. The “pagoda-roof” convertibles (so named because of the unusual hardtop profile shown in this picture) are no exception, and they also come with attractive styling to boot. It’s hard to believe one could get run down like this 280SL, but after being stored for many years, this car located in Akron, Ohio is up for auction here on eBay at no reserve.

1968 Mercedes 280SL Convertible

With clearcoat peeling off almost every surface and signs all over of being stored outside for a while, it could be easy to overlook this car. But after reading the seller’s ad it’s obvious that they really did care about the car and, as is frequently the case, had plans to restore it. The seller has owned it since 1993 and even used it as a daily driver for a few years before parking the car. As usual, it supposedly ran perfectly before being parked, which always has me wondering why park it? Nonetheless, with a claimed 43,000 miles, parts of this car are barely broken in (if the claim is true).

1968 Mercedes 280SL Interior

As I look over the interior, I’m surprised that the usually tough MB vinyl (any of you know whether this is the famed MB Tex or not?) is torn in several places and looking pretty tired. This shot also highlights that it’s an automatic rather than the manual that I would prefer. I think the first thing I’d do once I cleaned the car up and got it running is replace that jarringly out of place stereo!

1968 Mercedes 280SL Engine

The inline 6-cylinder engine is known for its smoothness and longevity, so if the indicated mileage is correct, it should have a lot of life left in it. After this much time, though, all hoses, belts, fluids and other consumables are obviously going to have to be changed prior to starting up this car. The seller does state that the engine turns over freely, so that’s a start. Pretty much all parts are available both from aftermarket specialists and Mercedes-Benz themselves.

1968 Mercedes 280SL Underside

Undercar shots look pretty decent as well, but the ad mentions 1 to 3 inch rust holes in the corners of the inner fenders, floor pans, and trunk pan. Certainly an in-person inspection would be advised. Tires, while having good tread, would have to be replaced as a matter of course. The seller seems to feel that all numbers matching is important, although there are enough deviations from stock that I don’t think this would be the car to start with if you are looking for a concours example. But that’s me, what do you think?


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  1. jim s

    it is at $22100 with 30 bids and about 3 days to go so the rust/automatice/cost of parts has not scared everyone away. i have to wonder, even at that price, if this being bid on just for the parts. i love the look of these but looking is all i can do. great find

  2. Dolphin Member

    This 280SL doesn’t seem too bad compared to lots of other project cars offered on Ebay….until you look at the alternatives.

    Prices and condition for these seem to be all over the place, so being the cheap/lazy person that I am, who would rather drive than deal with rusty bodies and baked interiors, I had a look at my favourite quick and easy market info source, Hemmings online, where there are 65 280SLs for sale now and prices range from $225K on down.

    A few examples from the bottom of the pecking order:

    1978 280SL: Georgia car, manual transmission, “restored 2008”, $19,990

    1984 280SL: Texas car, owned since 1985, “worth $12K, illness forces sale, make offer”

    1982 280SL: California car, “rust free, Euro version, strong runner”, $11,750

    1982 280SL: interior looks tired but body looks good, “Euro model, peppy engine, 5-speed manual transmission, great driver”, $7,995.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Wow…I know those are the later models, but gee….

    • Horse Radish

      Nice try !

      280SL is not 280SL
      All the ones you listed are the succeeding body style (W107) and 280ies are Euro only (non-US).
      They are far less desirable.

      As for this car: too many open questions regarding rust, as this sits out in the open in OHIO.
      That easily becomes a money pit.
      Thieves loved these in the 80ies and nineties for resale of almost untraceable parts, so a lot of them have been reassembled….
      You have to know what’s in front of you at that price….

    • Woodie Man

      Dolphin……….not that you need to be told of course, I at least can’t compare a Pagoda roofed 60’s (thru 1971) SL with any of the later models. Different cars.

      I owned a ’67n230SL w a hardtop………euro model.and drove it until a T-boning led the insurance company to total it though it only needed a right front fender. The rust exposed when the fender was peeled off was astounding even as it was a Cali car after being imported but whatever time it spent in Europe did it in.

      On the outside it was absolutely beautiful and those engines even the smaller displacement 230 had a unmistakable throatiness that cant be beat. Even with the slushbox it had.

    • Dolphin Member

      I can think of cars that I would or could make big distinctions between depending on sub-model / model year, but those SLs aren’t among them. But I admit that I have never been a M-B man, so my taste isn’t too refined I guess.

      There are lots of early 280SLs for sale now that are more expensive than the ones I listed but I’ll bet end up being better cars to buy than this Ebay car by the time it’s finished.

      My point was, if somebody wants to go for a car in an online auction, good for them. But I always prefer to search as far and wide as I can to see if there’s a better one out there for less money, all-in. Being cheap and lazy like I said, better and cheaper from the start is what I look for, and I think I have seen that in early 280SLs for sale now.

  3. rick

    Both photos that have a number plate look to have overspray on the screws or bolts. I don’t recall Mercedes doing that with my own 250. Also the one plate looks like a base of faint red hue on the plate and then a lighter metal blue and then the final top blue. To me that means potentially some major body work over time. But…I could be wrong. :)

  4. Sid Member

    Yes, that is MB Tex.
    It is almost bullet proof but this one is the exception.
    If it had leather it would have looked even worse.
    This 113 is a MONEY PIT!!

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Sid, that doesn’t look like MB Tex to me. The shrinkage across the back would have been more uniform. Any MB Tex I’ve seen usually is a perforated-looking pattern, the perforation not actually going through.
      The automatic not a bad unit it’s a 4-speed, definitely an improvement over the Hydrak.

      • Don Andreina

        Looks like MB-Tex to me. It has a similar graining to that in my ’77 W116.

  5. MikeH

    I love the look of the 230-50-80 SLs produced to ’71 but there is a big difference between them an the later SLs. It is kind of like running into an old girlfriend from college 20 years later. In college she had a small, tight derriere, small, well formed anterior, slender waist, etc. 20 years later, you can still recognize that it is the same girl but she has put on 30 lbs. All the pieces are still there, but they don’t look the same. That’s the relationship between the early SLs and the later ones.

    • Doug M. (West Coast)

      Very well put!! really tells the story on the change in this early to later 280 SL. Kinda sad in both cases, but that’s life!

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