Out with the old: Bye-bye blue Benz
Some thoughts on the old beast

Time, she is a flying. I bought my 1974 Mercedes-Benz 280 sedan back in the spring of 2017. The plan was to replace my 1965 Ford F100 with a machine that would accept a car seat. And still be old. Since Benz built tanks back in the day, the 280 sedan got the green light and my green backs.

And now, fast forward to the latter half of 2019, and the car has moved on.

Over the course of classic Benz ownership, I learned a few things.

  • Some parts are wickedly expensive. That’s why I never brought the air-conditioning system back online.
  • Some parts are delightfully inexpensive. That’s why I went through a handful of window switches.
  • The world moves slower when you’re in an old Benz, and that’s a good thing. I nicknamed the car Sunday Morning, because it was easssssssy to cruise comfortably down the road. Let the rest of the traffic worry about fighting for position and getting to their destination at ludicrous speed. In the Benz, we will get there and we will be calm about it.
  • There’s not yet a ton of love on the used market for the W114. People are scooping up the W108. Folks love the later W123. The W114 exists in a weird state in between. They built tons of them, so there’s no shortage of cars out there. But I’m surprised the rest of the world has yet to fully fall in love with Paul Bracq’s excellent design. If you asked someone to draw a Mercedes sedan, it would look like this.
  • Embrace the diving board bumpers. Yes, the slim euro look is great… but the federally mandated parking smackers definitely grew on me.
  • The thicker the oil, the better. The 280 enjoys sludge in its guts, otherwise it may drip a bit.

Driving the 280 down the highway was a great joy. There’s something special about pointing that star towards a destination, cranking the (aftermarket, thanks Clarion!) radio, and cruising. Sure, things broke along the way. But they were taken care of without much drama. The Benz was always back on the road quickly. And now it’s in the hands of someone who is ready to enjoy it.

I still have another Benz to worry about. And I’m deep in Montero country at the moment as well. Stay tuned for an update on that one… it’s about to get some fresh chassis bits.

9 Comments

  1. I’ll admit to being a fan of the W123, but the W114 is much prettier, and it’s a better size than the W108.

    It’s funny how several of your comments about the 280 I could also say about my E28. Specifically, the expensive AC fix (mine’s still dead, in a black-on-black car), diving board bumpers (love ’em!), and the thick oil. I, too, got my sedan with the thought of hauling the kids in something older and cooler, but my safety-minded wife put a swift end to that notion. I haven’t yet committed to selling the E28, but I’m certainly still considering it. There are plenty of hoon-worthy rides out there that are much easier (and cheaper) to work on, especially if my kids won’t be allowed to ride in it anyway.

  2. Honestly, I can’t say there was much about the car that appealed to me. OK, it was a good color. And you learned a few things while it was in your stable.

    Maybe much of my contempt for that car stemmed from the fact it was the one that kicked the much cooler Hoon Truck out of the rotation (I know that transaction was a result of orders from HQ related to car seat placement, but my own then-toddler used to ride in a car seat in my own 4th generation F-100). Maybe it also had something to do with the downgrade from a great license plate to one that was apparently inspired by the generic products in Repo Man.

    Anyway, I like the Montero, so we can be back on speaking terms now.

    It was interesting re-watching that headlight video again. Have you tried contacting any garage organizer companies to see if they would sponsor you for some before-and-after product reviews of whatever they make to get stuff off the floor?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DmUzSS0UwAAN22X.jpg

    1. I’ve since had stuff moved off the floor. The garage is much neater now.
      It’s still cramped. but I’m doing more with the space.

    2. Ha! I liked the 280, but I agree that the Hoon Truck was much cooler predecessor (if a tad loud). I’ll also agree that the Montero is a worthy replacement. The Mercedes had my respect, but the Montero inspires jealousy.

  3. I went through a time where I was big into the 80s BMWs. I had a 635, and a couple different m635s over the years… This was close to a decade ago now. I still think they’re beautiful machines, but my problem is that I really wanted to drive them, a lot. This was problematic, in that they were constantly requiring love and care above and beyond what I was willing to give to drive it 20k miles a year.

    And, when you think about the safety advances in vehicles since then, it’s hard not to go with something at least moderately newer to drive daily…

  4. growing up my dad had a 380SL, and we used to use the diving board bumpers as benches in high school. i agree the Euro bumpers are better looking, but i’d more excited to swap out the headlights for sealed-beam units.

    i 100000% know that feeling of cruising down the highway in your old broke-dick Benz and feeling amazing. i had moments with that 380SL, my old W123, and the two W124s i’ve had, all in various states of disrepair, when i felt like everything was completely right with the world. it’s always on the highway at night, with those two warm incandescent bulbs lighting up the gauge cluster, and with zero traffic around me. it’s cliche to say it, but there really is nothing else like an old Mercedes.

    1. For me, it was cruising to and from Palm Springs. There was a Range Rover event out there, so I drove my Benz… and it felt like right.

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