I have posted a number of S-Class Mercedes-Benzes, but they have been the later ’80s W126 body shape without exception, so far. This time, I have an earlier W116 280SE to show, parked on the lot of a trucking company. It’s rough around the edges, but the chrome’s still good and it’s worth looking at.
While the 280SE was from the lower end of the W116 scale and is relatively far from an ostentatious 6.9, over here it was rare as it was. On lattice alloys and in dark green, this 1979 Sonderklasse has been quite a sight in its day.
The green Mercedes is rough around the edges. It has had some kind of a front-end shunt or voluntary disassembly, as most of the front bumper is gone and the front plate has been wedged between the structures and the rubber that remains. It’s also possible the car has been towed where it is, as there’s something about it that says “non-runner” to me.
The grille is missing a brightwork bar and the star isn’t on straight, but that’s a given.
The Mercedes appears jawless, but what caught my attention were the still good looking lattice alloys.
It’s a good thing I took a peek inside. The interior is in direct contrast to the worn exterior, as the MB-Tex has stood up characteristically well and displays zero wear. That or it’s been replaced. The seats and center console look like they’ve come from a noticeably better-kept car; there’s some minor sag to the door cards but nothing major.
Even the wood looks good, and while the steering wheel has been replaced with a smaller wooden item (for obvious reasons, as the original one is globe-sized), that too looks classy. It would be more at home in a W201 190E, but it’ll do here. There are also push-button controls for the A/C, which look quaint in a ’70s way.
But the Mercedes isn’t done and dusted with just by mounting the bumpers. It’s bubbling and partly rotten. The door bottoms are going, and there are gaping holes and cracking bondo here and there. I would say it’s an earlier restoration attempt that is now showing its age, with orange peel and other tell-tales of a dodgy respray able to be seen.
It does pain me, as I think this is the perfect colour combination for the W116 S-Class. Blue is too common, black obscures the lines, silver is too boring; so it’s a close race between shades of brown, this green and pure white. And the tan interior is just excellent. I’ve also grown slightly weary of the tank-like W126 in comparison – the W116 looks so much lighter and easier to the eye.
So, at best this S-Class would be a parts car. It’s last been inspected in 2009, and I’d wager it hasn’t been an easy pass back then. My top tip is, then, to buy a sun-wrecked but rust-free US car and transfer all useable bits from this to that. Sadly, this one wouldn’t offer any help with the springboard bumpers on those…
[Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]