By on January 15, 2013

What better way to start of the Bodacious New Year than featuring a classic European sedan that, well, isn’t exactly trimmed out in the classic “Ab Werk” fashion.

Nevertheless, a weathered old-resto with a few period-contemporary bits, does, in itself, define a unique fashion niche—in a SoLA kind of way. As near as I can figure, this mid-late ‘60’s Mercedes-Benz 108-bodied 250 SE underwent a pretty thorough restoration sometime back in the ‘80’s—at which point it was considered a classic in it’s own right, and worthy of such attention.

But since it didn’t quite have the pedigree possessed by it’s kindred “C” and “SL” models—and no doubt owing to the tastes of it’s owner—it became recipient of some interesting “upgrades”. A purist probably couldn’t argue with the Euro headlamps; which I wouldn’t argue with, either. Certified Cool. The sunroof “deflector” was a very common addition to virtually ANY vehicle with a sunroof extant at that time. It was a phenomenon similar to vehicle “nose bras”—an accessory that seemed to be equally popular then. The thing about the “bra” was that, it was a bra after all, it could be fairly easily removed.

What is rather amazing, in this case, is the fact that the deflector is still there and intact! A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge, in the form of mileage, weather, car washes, and visits by the automotive taste police and other potential vandals, yet there it is.

I once had a mid-‘70’s 280 S with one of these ubiquitous attachments. I remember it being very difficult to remove, as all of the mounting bracketing and hardware was firmly rusted in place. Remove it, I did, though, since the unit had the habit of holding rainwater over the leading edge of the sunroof seal—which by that point, didn’t—when parked heading downhill. Yeah, the seal on the deflector worked just fine, thank you.

The real coup de grace unquestionably has to be the knock-off wire wheel installation, though. As in real knock-offs—not the ones with chrome lug bolts showing between the spokes, which were fairly common.

I don’t remember seeing many of these examples installed on any M-Benz models back then. I do remember them being expensive, and I’d heard that the threaded adaptor tended to come loose from the hub.

And what about those TIRES?!!

That seriously rusted left-front bumper trim is a fitting compliment to the mega-oxidized paint on otherwise still straight body panels. It’s sort of like one dark brown eyebrow on an otherwise normal head of blonde, if not slightly graying hair.

Long live the Aging Anti-Resto Classic Euro-Wagen!

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this ttac site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

15 Comments on “BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts: SE – SI!...”

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Surprised Leno has not picked it up yet!

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Looks like Maple yellow. Also,the lack of side markers on the front fenders, and the tombstone headlights point out that this is a Euro version .As I work on Mercedes of this vintage all day every day i would guess that the car wasn’t restored but is possibly just a well preserved W108 .They can handle a lot of Abuse in general use and it takes a lot to kill one.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Any insight on what is packed under the bonnet?

    In Venezuela, the ones that ended in the lowest part of the market got Detroit I6 powertrains transplants.

    • 0 avatar

      In all probability, the motor is the M-B 2.5 litre single overhead cam six cylinder. The ‘SE’ part of the model name means S Class and (mechanical) fuel injection.

      The missing marker lights alone don’t mean much. The 250 version was sold in the States before side marker lights were required. The fact that this car doesn’t have amber front turn signal lamps about where the clear,round driving lights are is a better indicator that it’s a gray market car brought over here. If instead it were the later 280 SE, the missing marker lights would be a more reliable indicator of it being built for another market other than the States.

      When my aunt turned 50, and for the first time got her drivers license, my uncle, an M-B dealer near Boston, bought her a new 1970 280SE sedan, and she drove it for 10 years before it rusted out. I’ll have more to post about that, later.

    • 0 avatar

      Ive seen a Datsun SOHC four transplanted into a low end four cylinder carburated Benz.

  • avatar

    Oh lord, won’t ya buy me a mercedes benz, so I can drive an ugly car like the rest of my friends.

  • avatar

    There is something rather appealing about a beater Benz. I might be in the minority but I like the wire wheels and white walls on this.

    • 0 avatar

      No, I agree the wheels look good and shout that 1960’s soCal look especially in the cream/Yellow this car is in. The idea of an old MB is a fine idea. I picture it as the new 240 in a way, the chic hipster car of choice. I see 70’s era MBs atleast a few times a month here in Pittsburgh because of college kids.

  • avatar

    Who wants to bet that, on startup, it lifts up by about 8 inches and leans to the left?

  • avatar

    All this car needs is a little detailing. Even the rusty bumper can be “fixed” cheaply: remove the rust with some naval jelly, put down a smooth primer, and patch the chrome with a reflectorized plastic sheet, cut to size. I’ve seen it done, and it looks good, if you don’t look too closely.

  • avatar

    Hell, it just really, seriously needs to be washed. I believe that this car is in the hands of someone else than the one who spent all that money on it. Doesn’t bother to wash it, runs the wires and Double Eagles right up against the curb….

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A woman had one like this , but a 1970 model 250 IIRC in this same shade of pale yellow at as place I worked at in the early eighties . At the time the car was over 10 years old , but I remember every body making a big deal about it – Mercedes really had a cachet back then it has lost over time . The lady’s husband was supposed to be rich and drove an Eldorado in a similiar shade of yellow .

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Nice enough looking car, but my dad had the 250 coupe version of this, and it was by far the slowest accelerating vehicle I have ever driven – slower than my 1979 Chevette, slower than my 1983 Mercedes 240D. Not a fun, heck not even an adequate car to drive by any means…

  • avatar

    There’s plenty of these old Mercs tooling the Southern California Highways & Byways these days , sadly most are like this one and don’t get much love .

    Slow to get up to speed but handles surprisingly well at speed *if* you’ve greased it and have decent shocks & rubber ~ those Pep Boys flaccid shocks & pogo shock absorbers most beaters run are deadly .


Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 993cc: It’s for people who would be happier with a Civic Wagon, which they haven’t sold since 1991.
  • slavuta: “No, it’s more than just sniffles” correct. It is also – fear mongering – political...
  • 993cc: ” …more useful interior space… whenever something is tailored for our market.” If that...
  • 993cc: +1 It also make it impossible to judge the size of a car. It drives me nuts, yet it’s so commonplace...
  • notapreppie: The right spec is the one that gets the 1.5L turbo motor. Oh, wait… that spec doesn’t exist.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber