Too Many Projects: 1965 Mercedes 220SE

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This is one of those cases of being more interested in the vehicles surrounding the car in question rather than the car itself. This 1965 Mercedes 220SE here on eBay is a project car the seller purchased with intents of restoring, but now admits will likely not happen. It’s in good company with the seller’s other vehicles awaiting restoration and residing in a dusty storage environment in California.

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The seller purchased this vintage fintail from the original owner. The car does appear quite honest, down to its sun-beaten paint and original metal dealer plate frame still hung on the rear end. The 37,000 miles is claimed to be original, and the car hasn’t been registered since 1976.

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These were not terribly powerful cars, but they could be had with a manual transmission to liven things up (relatively speaking). Like many Mercedes of this vintage, the 220SE featured here would make for a fine cruiser once it’s rejuvenated. The fintail does not currently run, so troubleshooting is to be expected.

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Perhaps the best thing it has going for it is the lack of rust. The body looks quite straight and much of the trim, including the hubcaps, appear to be in place. Personally, I’m more interested in this listing for the E24 BMW 6-Series this car is parked next to, and it looks like there are other restoration candidates as well. Which would you choose from this dusty garage?

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  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Now Jeff – I think that Benz is the pick of ’em!

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    • David

      Exactly so! I’ve enjoyed my for 220S for 20 years so far. The 220S has rear disk brakes and higher gearing which would be nice, but I’ll take my carbs over the fussy the fuel injection. Parts are easy to get right from Mercedes and are not that expensive.

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      • Horse Radish

        Only the 220SEb Coupés came standard with rear disks, or maybe the very last few of the sedans , but I doubt it.

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  2. cj32769

    The injection and all of the fuel system is going to need a good cleaning for sure.Make sure the distributer advance is well lubed and the old points are set right. Then when the mechanical injection pump advance and the ignition advance are working together, set the timing by ear with the engine revving around 5000 rpm and this old girl will surprise you.

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  3. Dave Wright

    This is one of the best models to own and drive. I have owned maby a half ha dozen of them and find the fuel injected engine far superior and less troublesome than the carbureted engine. It has more power, easer to tune and runs smother.

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  4. Horse Radish

    I guess for a minimum $1000 this flipper will not even pick up the hose right underneath the car.
    Car comes with mouse nests and turds and the accompanying smell that will probably never leave the car again………..
    …. and we did not even get to the reason why this car was parked out in the desert somewhere (tired engine ? /slipping transmission ?/F.I. pump giving trouble ? or just the $1000 electric fuel pump went out ?).
    Don’t let the fancy warehouse fool you, this has been in the desert sun for 30 years

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  5. HoA Howard AMember

    Oh, the mileage is original all right,,,,137, 237, more? ( surprised M-B didn’t use 6 digit speedo’s) I’m sure these were the best cars on the planet, at the time. Never cared for them myself, ( perhaps, something to do with the anti-German sentiment from my old man, which is totally unfair, Germans make the best cars, but he went thru WW2, the Big One, and I just listened to him bitch about it) and can only imagine how expensive it would be to fix this. Maybe a Chevy V-8, or something laying around, but not the most sought after car. Price is right.

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  6. Peregrine Lance

    My mom drove one of these for several years in the early 1960’s. At 5’4″/130lbs, she did a yeoman’s job of operating the FOUR-on-the-tree, and the accompanying clutch, which featured a Jack LaLanne (sp?) workout with each depression. Note that one great feature: A steering wheel which could have come off the rear of a Conestoga wagon! Mom persevered until a 1970s tristar took over the commute…

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  7. Claus Graf

    My dad had a fintail MB.

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  8. charlieMember

    A friend and I drove his from CT to Texas in 4 days back in ’66, we were in the USAF. (We were told to fly down, a training TDY, but we wanted a car when down there.) It was a dream to drive at 80 mph compared to anything else I had ever driven. We drove through a tornado event, you could see 20 or more funnel clouds for a few hours in MO, everyone else kept driving, so did we, blow out on new Cooper tire at 80 mph in OK, engine started missing about the same time, nearest MB dealers in those days 500 miles away in any direction, but it corrected itself, big old boy, and I mean big, putting oil in, put the can on the fender and slammed the spout down (self service has its benefits, as do modern plastic oil quart containers) leaving two semi circular dents in the left front fender. CT plates in the time of Civil Rights demonstrations, and anti- war demonstrations, we looked at each other, and agreed to just pay and go. Tried to get back in 3 days to make our next duty station on time, ended up flying from Erie and he went back the next weekend to get the car. They were so much better made than any US car of the time, rumor was that they were very over priced in the US, compared to Europe, so people would think they were better, but they were.

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  9. rangeroger

    In 1959 my father, Commander,USN, was transferred to England leaving our cars behind. 1952 Pontiac Chieftan and a gorgeous 1957 Chrysler Saratoga. So we needed a car in England. My dad had always wanted a Mercedes, so he went through Special Services and ordered one. In Septmber 1959 he flew to Stuttgart and picked up one of the first 30 off the line of the new 1960 220Sb and drove it back to London. Dual sidedraft carbs and 4 on the column.
    In 1962 we brought the car back to the US and drove cross-country back to San Diego. Mom, Dad and 4 kids. Sure was a better drive than when we left San Diego in 1955 to move to Quantico.
    All us kids learned to drive in that Mercedes and it just kept going. When ever any of us had car problems and needed something to drive, the 220 was always there. My brother ended up with it and decided to rebuild the engine. To this days it is still in pieces awaiting that rebuild. My brother bought a ’62 220 that he planned to put the engine in and the old one eventually tried to return to the earth.
    He finally had the rusted hulk towed away. He still has the ’62 but it is slowly deteriorating and sits outside his 2 stall horse stable in his back yard. In one of the stalls is his ’65 TR 4, that’s awaiting also. If I can I will try to post pictures of both.

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  10. rangeroger

    Pictures ’62 220 & ’65 TR 4

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  11. rangeroger

    Didn’t work

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  12. Russell

    Everybody has a story. My buddy and I… My Grandma… I remember prom night 1968… I don’t have a story, but after staying at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I think I’d like something like this.

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  13. Chris A.

    Dad bought one this same color for $500 that didn’t run. Cleaned out the fuel system, rebuilt the distributor, generator and starter. My job was to clean everything I could and grease the chassis. New battery, turned it over by hand, torqued the head, set the valves, fresh oil and filter and turned the key. We were lucky, it started right up. Wonderful car and easy to work on. Rebuilt the brakes and it was a nice driver except for the salt damage.

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  14. Chris A.

    Looking at the engine compartment picture I see a big pile of acorn husks sitting on the left front battery tray. My guess this was either outside or accessible to squirrels and a careful look in the air cleaner, heater ducts and interior might even show nesting sites which are a pain to clean out. This car will need a great deal of cleaning up, eventual paint with system restorations and perhaps some expensive parts like a rebuilt fuel injection pump and fuel feed pump. Unless you buy this cheap and can do the work yourself, this is a hobby car, not an investment car like the 220SEb Coupe. But the driving experience is great. The four on the column is really easy to use once you get used to it.

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  15. Chris A.

    Car is sold for just under $3K

    Like 0

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