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An easy style upgrade for the Benz
With a little help from eBay Motors

Jeff Glucker July 28, 2017 Featured, Project Cars, The Benz 16 Comments

My 1974 Mercedes-Benz 280 sedan is already dripping with style straight from the factory. It’s a car designed by Bordeaux-born Paul Bracq. He penned automotive lines for BMW, Citroen, and Peugeot in addition to his work at Mercedes. Besides cars, Bracq also had a helping hand in the design work on the then-new TGV high-speed passenger train. His work on my own W114-generation 280 is an exercise in classically cool simplicity.

That begins to fade, however, as the years drag on and automakers are forced to change parts of a given vehicle. In the case of my own Benz, it was required to wear hideous federalized bumpers on the outside. Mercedes-Benz also changed the front doors so they no longer had vented quarter windows. Most egregious on the inside though, was the move from a stunner of a steering wheel that shared across the likes of the W108 and the still-magnificent Pagoda SL, to one devoid of that bygone styling of motoring cool found in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Thankfully for me, however, I can get back some of the displaced good looks on my car. The bumpers will have to wait because that’s not a simple bolt-on swap for the better-looking Euro units. Instead I’ll focus on that aforementioned steering wheel, because the older version and my current version sit on the same steering shaft spline.

It’s off to eBay to hunt down a suitable tiller.

Thank you to eBay Motors for sponsoring this post and helping me find the perfect steering wheel! This post was written by me through an activation with eBay and Hire Influence. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The search terms for my eBay Motors hunt were simply enough. I entered “W114” and “Steering Wheel” into the search bar. After my WiFi did its digital dance through the air, I was shown a healthy heaping of finely shaped steering wheels. The primary wheel I come across is exactly the style that I’m hoping to find, yet they’re arriving on my screen in various states of quality.

What I love about eBay Motors is the variety of colorful inventory. There is a large selection of steering wheels from vintage Benz sedans and coupes.

The price ranges from a low $80 amount where you’re questioning if you really want a steering wheel with a whole lot of cracking up to a seemingly insane $1,200+ for an ivory white unit gently plucked from a Pagoda-era SL. Thankfully for me, the darker colored steering wheel that I’m eyeballing is mostly free of any cracks and sits at a price point that makes a whole lot more sense.

That’s part of the beauty of perusing eBay for your desired car part. eBay’s vast selection of new, aftermarket, and rare parts all-in-one destination make auto shopping easy. Shipping is fast and often free. Further, if you’re into warranties, their Assurant Protection Program has got you covered for new and used parts and accessories. There are all sorts of sellers offering bits and pieces in all sorts of shape, and you can dig through to find the one for you. This one here is the one for me and it’s going to look fantastic on my W114 sedan.

I’ll be swapping out the standard steering wheel that doesn’t feel as classically cool for this sweet number here. The chrome horn ring will lend an extra air of HEY IDIOT, MOVE OVER when I press it down. The thin rim of the wheel itself brings a dose of self-injected style every time I need to change directions. An act as relatively simple as swapping out one steering wheel for an older version is enough to subtly change the way you look at and how you feel about your car.

For now, my 1974 Mercedes-Benz is sitting in the service bay of a local shop. It’s getting a full going-through so that I know what sort of work it will need going forward. Once I get my hands back on the keys, the first thing I’ll be doing is bolting on that new steering wheel myself. Some quick shopping on eBay to find the right part and I’m a step closer to making this Benz uniquely mine. Yes, it’s a part that could be found on other Benz cars but it wasn’t supposed to be here on this one, yet I’ve changed that fact. And I’m going to physically change it myself too. It feels good to wrench on the parts that you can, and changing a steering wheel is a job that anyone with basic tools and a small amount of free time can knock out.

And once you’ve made the change… the car itself is a simple upgrade closer to being a knock out of its own.

  • Fred Talmadge

    A nice wheel for sure, but I’d thicken it up with some bicycle tape and a leather cover.

    • Jeff Glucker

      I actually prefer the thin steering wheel on this one.

      I like thick on a modern car, and thin on the old stuff.

      • Rover 1

        You want a thin wheel to preserve the steering sensitivity while wearing driving gloves.

        You DO wear driving gloves don’t you?

  • Agreed. The right steering wheel really helps pull together the whole interior.


    • Harry Callahan

      Thanks for the giggle! Don’t like company I see. Love the fraying shoulder belt especially.

      • Thanks! I removed the front passenger seat to make room for a set of trailer ramps. For some reason my wife has indicated that I needn’t be in any hurry to reinstall it on her account.

        • Harry Callahan

          She’s a keeper…and so is the car!

        • Alff

          Creepy though. Ted Bundy rolled the same way in his Beetle, but he wasn’t hauling trailer ramps.

          • Two things:

            (1) Although both cars are ’68s, Bundy’s VW is in much nicer shape than my 96.

            (2) I prefer to see myself as more of a ’59-Ford-owning Charles Manson type.

    • Alff

      And the right duct tape keeps it that way.

  • Harry Callahan

    I am totally on-board with this swap. Classy!

    • Jeff Glucker

      Now I just need to get the car back from the shop that’s working on some suspension bits… Been dying to drive it again.

      • Harry Callahan

        I savor those “first drives!” Enjoy!

  • wunno sev

    i wonder if these bolt into a W123. i have a similar wheel to your original, would definitely consider the older style…

  • Did they have air bags in 74? either way the original wheel looks like its from the 80s. Nice work

  • dukeisduke

    So does it take the usual generic steering wheel puller (I’ve got the Lisle tool) to get that off, or it something more unusual?