I spotted this just this morning over my second cup of coffee, for sale in the greater Grand Rapids metropolitan area.
Some may guess I only like rolling stock with cursive emblems, opera lamps and velour, but I drove Volvos for almost twenty years. Dad had Porsches since before I was born, still has a 356B and a ’67 1800S, and since my parents indulged my love of cars, I had all sorts of Pocket Cars, Matchboxes and Corgi Toys. So I had a veritable UN of tiny cars: Citroen CX wagon, Cougar Villager, Porsche 928 (so who’s the U boat commander?), Celica Liftback, Fleetwood Brougham, a Morgan, an XJS…and a Mercedes W116 taxi. I also had a blue civilian one, but it didn’t survive my childhood. Still have the rest though!
Which is why I perked up when I saw this nicely preserved survivor. I love those color keyed wheel discs, and it looks great in that nonmetallic burgundy paint. I’d prefer the off-white or saddle tan interior to the black, and the seats look a little deflated, but for a 46 year old car, it’s pretty nice.
Per the ad: “Beautiful 1976 Mercedes Benz 280S series. Selling for my father in law. He has owned it for the last 9 years. Routine maintenance has been done on it. No longer able to drive it, he has asked me to help him sell it. I will do my best to answer any and all questions about it.”
“This car is 46 years old. Keep that in mind when looking at it. It has its quirks. If you are looking for a mint condition car this old for 5800.00 please don’t waste my time. I have TONS of interest in it. I will schedule test drives today.”
“Body is in good condition overall. Very little rust under the drivers door. Kept in a garage all year round. Only driven in the summer.”
“In-line 6, 4 speed automatic. Power windows, power brakes, power steering. All original interior and exterior. Which is rare.”
“A/C does not work. Radio is temperamental. Seats are in good condition, but cushions are pretty much shot. Only one wiper works. New battery last summer. We had it out for a drive this afternoon. Asking 5800.00.”
Seems like a decent ask (especially since I saw a Pacer station wagon earlier for twelve grand, haha) for a car which does not appear to be rusty and has no goofy aftermarket “improvements” foisted upon it. Fix the A/C and wonky wiper and you’d have a fun summer driver.
Taking off the seat covers, putting new foam underneath, and then replacing the original seat covers shouldn’t really be that expensive of a job (especially if you do it yourself).
Anyone with a little skill or money could make that car a much nicer ride.
I’ve done just that with F-150 seats. You’re right, pretty easy job and turns out great. Only tools needed are hogring pliers. Mine were nearly indistinguishable from the OEM Lariat seats. *One trick I learned was to clean any leather you aren’t replacing with Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner. Sounds crazy but works wonders. No matter how well you care for your leather, it will develop a dingy hue from protectants, etc. that you only notice when comparing to new leather. My tan replacement was a little lighter than original, but matched perfectly after the SB treatment. Just be sure to nourish the SB stripped leather with something good (like Leatherique) afterward.
Yeah, I did that for the driver’s seat on my W115, wasn’t too bad.
And I think people still make new MB-Tex covers for them.
i wouldn’t pay almost $6k for it, but I do love that era of Merc.
(I especially love the two-tone paint option; my 300D was dark brown over tan, and looked *sharp*.)
The 280S…the S is for Sloooow….
You usually see less of the small engine later versions of these compared to the 450’s from what I see for sale.
Its got BOTH outside mirrors….this must have been a fancy one, the original owner must have been the Aga Khan….
All the horsehair has collapsed out of the seats, hopefully the working wiper is the top one….Asking $5800, realistically….its a $3000 car, but don’t waste his time, he’s got TONS of interest in it……
$5,800 is the new $3,000. I don’t think the price is optimistic, even if I personally have little interest in an old gasoline Mercedes that’s as slow as a diesel Mercedes.
It may be slow, but at least you can enjoy 15 mpg from that lazy (but smooth) gasoline six. It may be the perfect car for the teen or insecure driver, since it is slow, has no distracting infotainment crap, is built like a tank, and has battering ram bumpers that can take a lot of parallel parking abuse.
Those are some massive bumpers…..I didn’t remember them being that enormous.
At least in the BMW world of 70s era CS coupes and 2002s, it has become the fashion for owners of surviving US market vehicles to replace US mandated battering ram bumpers with slim Euro-bumpers that provide little protection but look a whole lot better (and save considerable weight). Somehow little Porsche was able to integrate 5 mph bumpers into the 911, 914, and 924 that looked a whole lot better than the same era models from BMW and MB.
No, i drove a same-year diesel Merc, and this thing has *twice* the raw power.
11-odd seconds to 60 is a lot faster than 18-odd seconds.
By today’s standards, yes, slow as snot.
But for 1976? Sure, it’s not as fast as a Firebird 455 (8.1 sec), but it wasn’t meant to be – the 3.5 or 4.5 were for that sort of thing.
And it’s *as fast as* a 630CSi.
Sigivald – I think your 11 odd second 0-60 time for a 280 must be for a European version, because Road and Track tested a w116 300SD that did the run in 12.3 seconds which they stated was faster than the 280SE (US) version. I seem to remember 13-14 seconds was typical for US smog controlled 280SE with heavy US bumpers and luxury equipment that Euro versions often didn’t have. The US 450SEL was about an 11 second 0-60 vehicle and you had to get the 6.9 to get under 10 seconds.
The numbers were not clear on their sources, no.
(My 300D had 76 HP; the 300SDs had *turbochargers*, which made all the difference.)
I’d believe 13 seconds, buy again, for 1976 that’s “average” at worst for that size, no?
In the context of 1976 a 13-14 second 0-60 wasn’t terribly slow, but it also wasn’t very competitive with most luxury cars of the time. A Cadillac or Lincoln would likely be in the 11-12 second range, as would a Jaguar XJ-6, but a BMW 3.0Si or Jag XJ-12 would have been under 10 seconds, and all would have been as cheap or considerably cheaper than the Benz. MB’s diesel push was a convenient way to avoid direct mostly unfavorably comparisons, because none of the others were available with a diesel or a diesel with anything close to the performance of the 300SD until the early 80s at least.
The US market ’76 280S had 120 horsepower and 143 foot pounds of torque. The US market 300SD had 110 horsepower and 168 foot pounds of torque. The 300SD was the stronger performer, since this is a US specification 280S. The Europeans were years away from acting on air quality, so they were enjoying the efficiency and power of gasoline engines that polluted however much they did.
Perhaps it would be more sprightly if the transmission could be reprogrammed to start in first gear.
I don’t remember Chris Chin, but that wasn’t much of a review. The one he found in the barn was the USA model but he quoted the German horsepower numbers, leaving acceleration “no more than adequate”. In Germany perhaps. He also didn’t answer the question I had about this car. What was the buyer saving by going for the 280S over the 280SE or the 450SE?
I wonder if this car would get more love if it went back to Germany. So much of the memory of a car like this is remembering the kind of people that drove it as first owners. In the USA that was often shiesters in coastal enclaves that got commissions off transactions rather than building things or landowning. In Germany, you would have had real giants for owners who had built the West German economy back better than ever after experiencing so much suffering, loss, and defeat in their youth. The polotics of today means you can’t honor the service of that generation of Germans, but this reasonably priced car might be good way to do it through the back door.
Remember that S-Class buyers tend to be a bit older, so assuming a typical buyer age range of 50 to 80 in 1976 would mean they were 13 to 43 in 1939 when WWII started. Thus many S-Class “owners who had built the West German economy back better” would have also been among those who supported Adolf as Nazi party members, industrialists, Gestapo, Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht soldiers, and Hitler youth and hence also played a role in Germany’s need to “build back better”.
The 300SD was created for the US market. Europeans hadn’t limited the efficiency of their gasoline engines in the name of emissions to the point where the greater pollution of private luxury diesel cars could be justified.
Yes only Americans would pay $35K to save $1K in fuel over 10 years, plus get to listen to diesel clatter from an unbalanced 4 or 5 cylinder compression ignition oil burner.
You could always save more by buying a $24,000 240D with the power to weight ratio of a Chevette loaded with bowling balls…..
There is also the perhaps sad downgrading of the W116 300 SD to go beyond the big money guys to the traveling salesmen/hotel livery crowd. Notice the 300SD staying out of Europe.
The performance of the German 280S was far less embarrassing than the USA model.
Tom, that car shows well. Most of the issues the seller list are things you would expect on a car of that age (A/C, seat foam/horsehair, radio). If it is pretty much rust free as his asking price that would make a nice weekend project. Yes it is not going to run with an S450 of that era but as Stingray65 stated, MB’s in those years were built like tanks. I know photos can make things look better then they truely are but that paint really looks good for its age. To bad MB went down market, in the 1970’s and 1980’s MB sold for real $$$ and the dealers would not deal on them. Nice find.
I think it’s a nice car for a decent price. The seats should not be much of a problem. If it is a 280S it should still have a carburettor, no fuel injection. Otherwise it should be a 280SE.
This is the car, is it not, to take the free option of no emblem on the trunk lid, to announce your engine selection. Mercedes always implied those that took them up on it bought the 6.9. Well what are they going to say.