Project Car SOTU: The Benz

I just call it The Benz, but really my 1974 Mercedes-Benz 280 sedan is often referred to as Sunday Morning. This is a car that I bought to shuttle my daughter around in, which I could not do in my 1965 Ford F100. And so it serves as a great daily driver and daycare express train. Well, maybe not express. The M110 inline six isn’t known for blowing off any doors. But that’s not why I wanted the car to begin with. This is my calming cruiser. My stylish old-school-cool runabout. And it’s received some love the last two years, or so.

The first thing you might notice is that my vanity plates have finally arrived. I’m surprised this one was available yet I also find it stupid and funny at the same time. After a quick trip to my local AAA (because you’re foolish if you go straight to the DMV here in Southern California), I secured the black and yellow legacy plates with “A BENZ” stamped into them. Initially I was told it would take four to six months for them to show up, and thankfully the estimate proved to be on the shorter end of that given length.
There’s been a fairly large upgrade inside the Benz. When I drive, I love listening to music (or a podcast). So I want my sound crisp, clear, and when necessary, loud. Our friends at Clarion have helped out in that arena. No, I didn’t go in and rip out the working Becker Europa in the dash. Instead, we decided on a Clarion Marine headunit which has been placed in the space behind the shift lever and ahead of the armrest.

There are a pair of speakers in each door. A set of 6×9-inch speakers live in the rear deck, and a singular subwoofer sits in the trunk in a box mounted against the back of the rear seat (which you can see in the video above). It all sounds wonderful and I couldn’t be happier with the setup.
On the mechanical side of things, the Benz is running well at the moment. I can give the throttle a kick and let the carb know I need a cold start, and it will typically fire up on the first go. After a bit, another kick relaxes everything and the car will pull away smoothly.
I just had to have the points replaced as the car started running warm and running rough. A local mechanic diagnosed it and figured it out far more quickly than I ever would’ve. 

How A Car Works – A topic that continues to not make sense to me…

Since then, the Benz has been running strongly. Today I’ll take it on a longer drive to see how it behaves in traffic, but I fear that the cooling system may need some attention. The temp rises in traffic, which isn’t terrible and it comes down as we start moving again. I want to see if it’s doing it as badly as it was before we replaced the points. If it still rises too high for my liking, I will swap out the thermostat but I’m not convinced it’s that. Ideally though, I won’t need to re-core the radiator or something as extreme as that.
Next up for the Benz will be some interior and exterior fixes. My goal is to speak to a paintless dent repair expert and have some of the bumps adjusted. Then I will tackle the rear of the headliner with a bit of 3M spray. The headliner itself is in 95% great shape, but the rear bit at the pillars and where it meets the rear glass is pulled out a bit. I hope I can clean it up a bit with the spray.
After that… it’s soon going to be time to sell the car. As was the case with my truck, once I get it running the best it’s been during my ownership period I find myself moving on to other things.
In this case though, that other thing is The Wombat.


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7 responses to “Project Car SOTU: The Benz”

  1. HuntRhymesWith Avatar

    ” As was the case with my truck, once I get it running the best it’s been during my ownership period I find myself moving on to other things.”
    Such is life for people like us. In a way it sucks to mainly drive these things when they’re broken. At least your work was not for naught; you’ve shepherded another classic away from the scrapper.

  2. Scoutdude Avatar

    If it gets hot in traffic but cools down once you get some speed the problem is not the thermostat. If it has a fan clutch that is the most likely cause, but anything that interferes with the fan’s ability to flow air can be the problem.
    It is not the flow of coolant through the radiator. The faster you go the more heat you put into the system and the higher the need for the radiator to flow coolant and shed heat. The symptom of a radiator that isn’t doing its job is the opposite of what you are experiencing. In that case it will stay cool at low speeds and light loads and the temps will rise as you speed up or put it under a higher load.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Fan clutch – I will check that out. Thanks

  3. theskig Avatar

    Is it legal in USA to swap those horrible bumpers with the european version? I mean, after all these years…

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Technically legal? In a word no.
      However “safety” inspections, or lack there of, are up to the individual states and many like California don’t have them. Even in states with mandatory “safety” inspections I doubt that an inspector would know the difference on a car of this age that they obviously rarely see. So while it may technically be illegal there is almost zero chance that you would run into any legal trouble.

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    Hopefully you have figured out a way to turn project cars into page views, turn that into product sponsorships, lather, rinse, repeat.
    I must admit, I’ve never liked personalized plates that directly reference the type of vehicle, thining it a bit lazy to point out something so obvious. Hopefully this plate won’t go on your next vehicle, and you will use WOMBAT instead.

  5. KentMB1 Avatar

    Nice update. I love the 114s. Couldn’t catch the name of that song, what is it?

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