Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280C

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Yesterday’s Junkyard Find was a completely used-up Detroit hooptie, of mild historical interest but not really deserving to be spared the steel jaws of The Crusher. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, is a different story: a solid, completely rust-free W114 Benz with a straight body and very nice interior. Did I mention that it’s a coupe?

This is just how things are in California, where I found this staid-yet-slightly-sporty German. Just about every car in this Oakland self-service yard went through an auction process in which the minimum bid is— last time I checked— 200 bucks. That means that none of the cold-eyed car-wheeler-dealer types (nor the rose-colored-glasses-wearing car-hoarders) at this Mercedes-Benz’s auction felt willing to cough up two C-notes for the car.

These things were expensive— $9,994 list, at at time when $7,765 would get you a far plusher Cadillac Sixty Fleetwood and $8,475 could purchase a vastly sportier Jaguar XK-E V12 convertible— and they were expected to last forever. In this W114’s case, “forever” was 38 years.

My heart is pretty lump-of-coal-ish when it comes to seeing doomed cars in the junkyard, but this is one of the few that makes me shake my fist at the Car Gods and demand to know why? I may have to start shopping for W114 coupes, before the last one gets melted down to make Chinese bathroom-stall partitions.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jeffzekas Jeffzekas on Nov 04, 2011

    No one will rescue this baby cos it will cost $20,000 to restore an old Benz that will be worth (maybe) $3,000... been there, done that.

  • MercW108 MercW108 on Nov 12, 2017

    The car is actually a 1975 model year cause it has the rear fender mounted antenna and the Unleaded Fuel Only sticker on the dash. I don't know if the build plate tag was put on from a 1973 model cause the W 114 body style changes didn't happen until 9/73 and the tag says 6/73. Mercedes changed to the U.S. mandated impact bumpers in Sept. 1973 for the 1974 models.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three