By on April 1, 2014

12 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing just about all the Mercedes-Benz W114s I find in self-service wrecking yards have in common is that they arrived at the yard in restorable condition. Little or no rust, interiors somewhat intact, mechanical parts mostly there. In this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, and this ’74 280C, and I’ve passed over dozens of ordinary W114 and W115 sedans in the last half-dozen years of junkyard prowling. What we’re seeing here is a combination of extreme longevity coupled with a rapid plummeting of value (in the eyes of those who covet these cars) once the cosmetic wear and tear build up. A 41-year-old Plymouth Satellite or Chevrolet Chevelle coupe in rust-free, reasonably complete shape would be worth a couple of grand and thus safe from that final tow-truck ride to the junkyard. The W114 coupe? Here’s another one, now resting in a California yard.
09 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good news is that there are sufficient examples of these cars still on the street that many parts will be rescued before The Crusher’s cold steel jaws eat this car. Looks like someone has snared the bumpers, grille, headlight assemblies, and trim already.
02 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne difference between restoring this car and restoring that ’73 Satellite is the cost of rejuvenating the upholstery; with the Plymouth, you can buy brand-new seat skins and just about everything else with a few mouse clicks. With the Benz, fixing that leather won’t be anywhere near as affordable.
07 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis big, fuel-injected M130 six was pretty futuristic by 1973 standards.
06 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir conditioning, of course.
03 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car listed at $9,994 new, which comes to just under 53 grand in 2014 bucks. How much was the much bigger and plusher ’73 Cadillac Coupe de Ville? $6,268. Of course, it probably didn’t take the Cad long to drink the price difference, given the effects of certain global political events at the time.


The W114 was quite a car, and it’s sad to see another rare coupe get eaten by the world’s demand for scrap metal.

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53 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE...”


  • avatar
    friedclams

    If I was an oil-rich sheik, I’d rather have the Mercedes. I drove a ’73 Coupe De Ville once and, although handsome, it handled grotesquely. Strictly point-and-shoot.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I love the quality of early-’70s Benzes, but didn’t oil sheiks of that era purportedly favor Cadillacs and Rolls-Royces because of their vastly superior air conditioning (Rolls-Royces of that time having Delco-sourced a/c)?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The AC was a biggie, but the floaty ride and bigger interior with an overstuffed rear sofa were also big selling points. With desert roads built in a straight line for miles, the point and shoot Caddies worked just fine. Those sheiks in the back seat didn’t care much for lateral-G’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        A/C on European cars all the way into the mid-1980′s was more of an afterthought and barely adequate to remove the humidity from the air. In many cases, the A/C was either dealer installed or installed at the port and consequently looked like a hack job and not a fully-integrated system like American and Asian cars had.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        @ Featherston. Many years ago, when I was a college student working part time at a garage, I changed the oil on a 70s Roller. Both the A/C and the ignition on that rolls were GM sourced.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    My dad owned one just like this one, except a 1975 in light cream and a 250 version instead of 280. Slow as molasses, a hateful car to drive. To make matters worse, I took it out for a drive one day, and the engine caught on fire. Wretched vehicle. Oh, and A/C that wouldn’t cool a shoebox.

    Maybe the 280 was better, who knows…

  • avatar
    rdeiriar

    W114/115 are great cars, and the first Mercedes without a swing axle at the rear, they have a semi-trailing arm setup as pioneered by BMW. The engine on this particular car is the, back then brand new, twin-cam M110, not the Sohc M130 that was based on a fifties design

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My stepdad had a late 70′s 240D. I was chocolate brown over tan leather. Large throw four speed, IIRC. Extremely clean. Felt like riding in a damned tank (heavy).

    The thing was noisy (“clacka-clacka-clacka…”), stinky- yet extremely cool.

    Fast it was not, but the way it pulled made it feel adequate enough.

    I remember the struggles he had with it to get it started on cold winter mornings. Lol. It could be a bitch to get goin’- it did not like cold starts.

    Something gave on it, can’t remember what- and suddenly it was dead weight. He GAVE (yes, gave) it to the notoriously Hoosier-tastic neighbors who, consequently, stored it in their garage for about six months, then ended up selling the beast for a decent profit.

    I imagine that the 280ce above trumped his 240D in just about every way.

    And if that is the case, I can only imagine how sweet that ride was.

    Now only if I could stumble upon a 280SE Cabriolet in restorable condition…

  • avatar
    Battles

    I’d love to know what the extra lights and socket on the dash were for.
    I have a switch for the MP3 amp in my ’89 W124. I was going to mod an existing switch but I added a James Bond style metal toggle switch.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Saying these cars “handled” is like saying an M1 tank handles better than a Sherman.. They are still both tanks. I will give them props for interior fit and finish. They definitely hold up.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      Reg; “Saying these cars “handled” is like saying an M1 tank handles”

      Half a Truth, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is a European car designed for narrow, tight roads and laneways, and twisty mountain roads, and the Autobahn.

      Granted, it is no Miata, but it also doesn’t pull you off the road with excessive under steer like most of its contemporaries. It goes where it is pointed with good balance. It responds like any well balanced chassis. A little late into the corner, light touch on the brakes to load the front wheels, and give her a measure of throttle and she pulls around like any good handling RWD. And the sedan possesses the same handling traits.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Exactly. I had a ’76 240D. It handled beautifully on mountain roads, although it only mattered on the downhill sections.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Look here, fellas.

          Vintage MB’s are not the equivalent of a Lotus Elise.

          But they certainly did “handle” (if that’s what you’d like to call it) a hell of a lot better than the rattletraps we Americans were putting out at the time.

          Yes, they’re well built, better balanced, yadda. And sure, it seemed they’d maneuver much better and be very well-mannered in the twisties compared to most of the domestic trash romping the states’ streets at the time.

          They were also heavy, brute, unforgiving bastards.

          So let’s not go too overboard. We’re not talking M3′s here.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            My 240D had a curb weight of 3,055 lbs. Not exactly an Elise, but lighter than a new Focus and a featherweight compared to the barges being sold as M3s these days. I have no idea what you mean by calling them heavy, brute, or unforgiving.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Your 240d also had a hair over 60 horsepower. Quite anemic.

            But it’s a diesel!!!

            Suddenly your 3k lb. weight (which is, again, as I’ve said, great for the era) trumped by the pea shooter under the hood. So, now your 3k lb 240d feels HEAVY.

            Good luck giving hell to an M3 with exceptional weight distribution.

            And a barge of an M3? What years are you referring to…? Lol

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            @ RareSleeper.

            Nobody went overboard, and nobody said they are sports cars.

            The contemporary BMW’s of the time whether ’2002′ or ‘E21′ were much smaller vehicles at around a 100″ wheelbase. And the BMW’s were not exactly fast, unless you got one of the rare turbo models(2002), or the much later M3.

            And the BMW’s had some odd handling issues in some situations, that the 114 never exhibited. BMW fixed that issue with the E30 M3, but only that rare model.

            The best handling American cars of that time were the GM ‘F’ & ‘G’ bodies, not exactly comparable to the sedan M-B. We would have to wait for Buick Regal for good sedan handling, and particularly the 78/79′ Regal Turbo coupe.

            They(114/115′s) definitely are not “brutes”.

            Comments like yours always lead me to believe that somebody doesn’t actually have any real world experience with the subject matter, or has a negative agenda. Maybe your experience is too have only driven the newer cars of the nineties and later, and then drove an old M-B. You would be among a very small percentage of the commentators on this site to have actually driven a 114/115.

            Doesn’t matter, they are what they are and that is pretty damn good, even for today.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    There is something substantial and dignified about these, especially in coupe form. I had no idea they had DOHC in these in the early 70′s. Were the heads also four valve? The Mercedes coupes when left stock and cared for in all ways have become very attractive to this old guy. If I were to run across a late 80′s or early 90′s SEC, I’d probably pull the trigger – and embark on another steep learning curve. If that Sajeev character can get away with having a Cougar, a Mark VIII, several Panthers, and a four cylinder European, without encountering a divorce lawyer, there is hope for all of us.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      These were 2-valve per cylinder engines, and were considered pretty problematic by Mercedes-Benz standards.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      The heads are ‘Two valve’, and the ‘M110′ is quick to rev. The injected ‘CE’ had a few more ponies the the carbureted ‘C’. The engines are quite tough and will take over revving. Good thing as they are quite expensive to overhaul.

      Parts are plentiful for the W114/115′S.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    These are great cars. I have commented before, here, about my 280C that I have owned for years. Style, inside and out, amazing ride, it just soaks up road irregularities. Cornering_ competent_ but no sports car. Engine for a 73′ has enough get up and go, but the carb models are thirsty.

    The car just makes you feel good driving it, and they sure get attention from those who know what it is and it catches the eye of those who don’t.

    Find a decent good running one and spend $10-$15,000 for restorative work, well worth the investment. Very nice models needing little, can be had for peanuts $5,000 to $12,000. Exceptional, to $20,000. They are beginning to appreciate.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Another thing about restoring a 1973 Satellite instead is that you won’t likely be faced with the possibility of having to redo it in goat-vomit green to keep it original.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I’m surprised that the remnants of sheepskin seat covers aren’t present in the interior photos above.

      Isn’t it an unspoken rule that IF you drive a vintage German or Swedish car, you MUST have off-white sheepskin seat covers at all times?

    • 0 avatar
      old5.0

      Are you joking? When restoring late 60′s-early 70′s Mopars, the two colors you are most likely to encounter are goat-vomit green and baby sh*t tan.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        “are goat-vomit green and baby sh*t tan.”

        Glad somebody noted that. I call it ‘Survivor Green’. It seems that you will find more old nice survivor cars in Babyshit/Survivor Green, Then any other color. I run across that type of color in all makes and models.

        I have often wondered of the mental make-up of the original owners who chose cars of those colors. Definitely careful, deliberate, and considerate owners who kept their investments for a long time.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Don’t even think about restoring a junkyard vintage MB.
    Mine is a 83 W123 CDT. A low mileage and mostly MB maintained gift that keeps on taking despite significant DIY repairs. They require lots of hands on maintenance to run properly. MB dealer didn’t because high maintenance costs would be extraordinary. Much to like about MB engineering not found in any USA cars of the period. Much not to like such as a poorly designed tranny that developed internal leaks around 50k and a PITA engine driven vacuum system for starters. No Detroit auto maker did the body, interior, ergo’s, and sight lines like MB. Nothing like it on the road today.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I have a friend in New Zealand that has one of these in that very color. H bought it in Germany and then shipped it home after a month. He has over 325,000 on it. The original clutch is still in it. He knows how to drive stick!

  • avatar
    hawox

    40 years ago most european car used to decompose after 10 years (if they were driven in dry hot climate). that mercedes became the symbol of slow but reliable car.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    I run a tiny business restoring pre 1980 Mercedes (although I can be persuaded to touch W124 and 126′s up to 1992 ). The entire W115-W114 series were known in Europe as the /8 series. I see a few folks saying they are slow. In 1972 a 280CE was a 128MPH car. As my family bought these cars new back in the 70′s I don;t recall too many contemporary cars being capable of matching those top speeds. And I see someone saying they handled like a tank. These were compact cars then ,and actually still drive and handle better than a lot of new cars of the same size. In fact most Mercedes of any era seem to be better drives than most cars built at the same time,discounting of course those special types of cars built with the enthusiast driver in mind . It is surprising actually to see a reasonbly rust free shell in a wrecking yard as there is a very big following in the USA for this model . i have seen on forums a lot of really rusty examples bought back from the dead in the US.
    And then there is the German VDH Mercedes club which travels to the USA every year with the sole aim of filling a shipping container with used parts for the mercs back home.
    http://www.mercedesclub.de/index.php/teilemarkt/teileversorgung-aktuell/teileversorgung/item/422-vdh-schrotteltour-californien-2014

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Can these Mercedes be retrofitted with other drive trains (as Jaguars can be)?

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Reg; “Can these Mercedes be retrofitted with other drive trains”

        Yes, they can. I have done several SL’s(LS engines) and 280SE(Chevy Ramjet-350). Also a 59′ M-B_120,(302″ Ford).

        You can swap engines into just about any vehicle. Even an LS into an IS300> http://www.lsxtv.com/news/swap-insanity-matt-owens-ridiculous-twin-turbo-lc9-powered-is300/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=swap-insanity-matt-owens-ridiculous-twin-turbo-lc9-powered-is300

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thanks for the reply. I very much like these models, to me they feel like “proper” cars. I’m just wary of the aged drivetrain, would love to be able to drop in a more modern I4 or I6.

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            @28CL’ Don’t worry about the drive trains, they are quite sturdy and dependable. Brakes can be upgraded with parts from later models.

            Finding a manual tranny in one, will be hard, but the auto’s work just fine and are not that expensive to repair, if you can’t find a serviceable used one. Good engines are out there, also. Never heard of any trouble with the Differential.

            Finding a color you like, could be hard. Mine has a rare and quite attractive combo of Black roof and rot metallic (Carnelian Red) body. The Red has an almost Maroon copper metallic look.

            M-B_Tex upholstery kits are available, as are carpets and headliners. The vacuum system that runs all the locks, and the climate control, will usually need some attention, not a major or expensive job.

            It isn’t hard to find new and used parts for the 114/115, including a rebuild kit for the carbureted 4-barrel M110 engine.

            I can’t imagine a much better L6 out there, unless you want to really step up and get one of the L6 Supra turbo engines.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve heard stories about guys trying to rebuild worn out motors in SLs and going broke in the process. In my mind, if I can put a new heart and lungs in an old body, this is more ideal than rebuilding the existing ones for similar money. Perhaps though if you happen to find one, it won’t require much to get back on the road again.

          • 0 avatar
            cc-rider

            The 90′s mercedes M104 was one of the best straight 6′s they ever made. Those engines can be turbo charged to the moon as well.

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            @ CC-R_ Yes, those later M-B sixes could be a good transplant, they just aren’t the eye candy the M110 engines are. Plenty of them out there, though. A nice later 3.0 could be a candidate, or a later Merc’ V-8 like the aluminum 5.0.

            Nice 280CE> http://www.collectorcarads.com/Mercedes-280CE/34771

          • 0 avatar
            Battles

            You could probably put in a much later M-B engine and keep it all looking “correct” but get a lot of advantages in terms of power and reliability.
            The engine looks a lot like the M104 variants in W124s so you could have a 24v 3.2 with 220bhp in there and probably not tell the difference.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    It should be of interest to note, that the 114/115 have around the same wheelbase(108″) as the current Mustang and Camaro, yet they have a very comfortable rear seat for adults.

  • avatar
    roger628

    Well, at any rate it lasted a lot longer than that Passat behind it.
    Barring being hit, being junked at that age is scandalous.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx for the M-B commercials ! .

    This W-114 was far too nice to have been scrapped , most have *very* rusty floors .

    That’s the M-110 engine , almost as thirsty as the Caddy or Sattelite V-8 , even with fuel injection .

    They also like to spit valve shims *just* as you’re having fun with the tachometer buried , usually this spitting breaks the well of the alloy cylinder head , ruining it , that’s the problem with the nice looking cars like this in P-A-P , almost always a bad head .

    I really like the pea green color .

    Anyone who thinks they’re slow or don’t handle well , either never drove one or it was far , _FAR_ out of tune .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Hard to believe how times change. I remember the first time I sat in a Mercedes Benz. It was a 1968 280SE – this color combo. The car belonged to a friend of my father’s who knew I loved cars. Even if my father had not been walking around it with his arms behind his back muttering “Kraut bastards” under his breath (he’d buy my sister a VW Bug a couple years later) I still would not have been impressed. A “small”, boxy car with “crank” windows? The ’67 Imperial had the whole Danish Modern vibe going, a dashboard with wood-covered concealed compartments, zillions of buttons to play with and lush upholstery. It looked like Hell after six months and was junk in two years, but there was a brief window where it shined and it was that memory that I judged that Mercedes against. The guy had brought me a brochure and everything. and I couldn’t even pretend to care. I know he was hurt and I have always felt bad about that. At least my father did not throw that Mercedes off his property, he saved that for his cousin Eddie from San Francisco.

  • avatar
    RollaRider10

    There’s something really sad about badge-shadows.

  • avatar
    patman

    At 10,000 miles a year it would have taken you just over 8 years to spend the difference between the sticker prices of the Mercedes and a Coupe DeVille in gasoline.

    At a slightly more modern 12,000 mile per year it would’ve taken a little over 7 years.

    In 1973 when gas was $0.39/galllon the Mercedes would’ve saved you about $300 over the year. By 1981 when it peaked at $1.38 it would’ve saved you a grand!

    That’s using the published 8.3 mpg for the Caddy and 18.8 for the Mercedes. Year by year gas prices came from here:

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2005/fcvt_fotw364.html

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    The folks at Mercedes Motoring restored a very similar car. Gorgeous!

    http://mercedesmotoring.com/cars/55/

  • avatar
    Andy D

    By the time I got around to appreciating these cars, they had too much structural rot to contend with. I have always liked the I 6 Mercedes coupes. My current fleet is a pair of ’88 528es. I can see re-vamping a Jaguar’s transmission and rear end gears to accomodate an over drive, but swapping out that beautiful twin cam 6 for an SBC is sacrilege!

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      “By the time I got around to appreciating these cars, they had too much structural rot to contend with.” _ Andy, There are plenty of 114 coupes out there, that don’t suffer from structural rot.

      “swapping out that beautiful twin cam 6 for an SBC is sacrilege!” _ Yes, and no! I guess a 572″ into an XJS would really drive you over the edge. And, Friday, another XJS stopped by the shop looking at the cost of swapping in a LS376. One of the nicest XJS’s(90′) I have seen in a long time.

      For a lot of these cars, especially the Jags, an engine swap is their last chance to stay on the road and not be parted out or crushed. And it is a growing industry that provides decent income jobs.

      After a few years now of ultra hiperformance super cars featured in the auto rags, everybody wants too access that kind of performance, especially for nickels on the dollar and in sleeper guise. 600hp to over a 1,000hp street-able cars are being built all over the world in garages and tuner shops. And, I don’t see an end to it unless legislation pulls the plug. If that happens, I see growth in track days and track car builds just for the fun of a running your tuner car on a track, as it will probably illegal on the street.

  • avatar
    lovestick-tr

    hi

    i need a some parts who may help me

    1- driver and passenger side complete corner windows glass with chrome..
    2- interior doors panel ..
    3- a.c radiator..
    thank you…

  • avatar
    marcmartinez27

    this is at the newark pick n pull in california. i know because i was there the day that car came in it had a nice set of hella euro headlights that are now on my 72 250c coupe. i took some of the trim too.i did think to myself why is this car here? it was complete!it looked like you could get in it and drive it home!


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