During the 1970s, if you were sensible and had a fat bankroll, you didn’t buy an Eldorado or Mark IV or even a Toyota Crown. No, you bought a staid, humorless-as-Richard-Wagner Mercedes-Benz W114/W115 sedan, and then you kept it while the pages flew off many decades of calendars. If you were really serious, you got the naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel, as the original purchaser of this now-retired-at-age-42 San Francisco Bay Area 240D did.
There’s a lot of talk going around about how every restorable example of the Mercedes-Benz W114 coupe is worth plenty these days. Five grand? Ten grand? The junkyard tells me that the real-world prices for these cars in non-perfect condition is still quite low, because I see them regularly. Here’s a solid, fairly complete ’73 without a speck of rust that I saw in a Northern California junkyard a few weeks ago, and this car comes on the heels of this ’71 250C, this ’73 280CE, this ’74 280C, and a bunch of W114 sedans that I haven’t even bothered to photograph. I’m sure that the cost to restore one of these things is just breathtaking, which is why those in the know rarely take on such projects.
Mercedes-Benz W114s lasted forever and held their value pretty well, which means that plenty of them still show up in self-service yards nearly 15 years into the 21st century (though most of the time I skip photographing the sedans). So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, this ’73 280CE, and this ’74 280C, and now I’ve found this coupe in Denver.
One 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.
Since I’ve been haunting self-serve wrecking yards since the early 1980s, I’ve seen some patterns in the average age of various junkyard inhabitants. Detroit cars show up in large numbers after about 10-13 years on the road. Toyotas and Hondas need about 20 years. Off-brand Japanese stuff (e.g., Mitsubishis, Daihatsus, Suzukis) appear in under a decade. 1980s Hyundais started showing up in these yards when they were under five years of age, which is a terribleness record. Mercedes-Benz cars, however… well, the stuff they built in the early-to-middle 1970s is just now appearing in large numbers at U-Wrench-It.
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?
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- Raven65 This was basically my first car - although mine was a '76. My Dad bought it new to use as a commuter for his whopping 15-minute drive to work (gas is too expensive!) - but it was given to my sister when she left for college a couple of years later - and then she passed it down to me when I got my license in 1981. It was a base model... and I mean BASE... as in NO options. Manual 4-speed (no o/d) transmission, rubber floor (no carpet), no A/C, and no RADIO (though I remedied that within a week of taking ownership). Dad paid just over three grand for it. Mine was a slightly darker shade of yellow than this one (VW called it "Rallye Yellow") with the same black vinyl "leatherette" seat covers. Let me tell you, the combination of no A/C and that black vinyl interior was BRUTAL in the SC summers! Instrumentation was sparse to say the least, but who needs a tach when you have those cool little orange dots on the speedo to indicate redline in gears (one dot for redline in 1st gear, two dots for redline in 2nd gear, three for 3rd). LOL! It wasn't much, but it was MINE... and I LOVED it! It served me well through the remainder of high school and all the way through college and into my first "real job" where I started making actual money and finally traded it in on a brand new '89 Nissan 240SX. They gave me $300 for it!!!. I wish I still had it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
- Analoggrotto Telluride is still better
- Arthur Dailey So how much more unreliable is a 50 year old Italian made vehicle in comparison to a 5 year old Italian made vehicle? After 50 years wouldn't most of the parts and areas most prone to failure have been fixed, replaced and/or addressed?Asking for a friend? ;-)
- Pig_Iron This is happy news for everyone in the industry. 🙂
- Dukeisduke Globally-speaking, in August, BYD was the fourth best-selling brand name. They pushed Ford (which had been fourth) to sixth, behind Hyundai.