classic 280s what should i look for before purchase - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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classic 280s what should i look for before purchase

hello all

im looking to pick up a classic mercedes prefer the 280 4drs, im just wondering what i should look for before i buy. im new to benz but not to german cars, I have worked on a few, years back and just liked the way they drove. i located a 1968 280 close by and am going to look at it. its a 4dr automatic on the floor owner says its factory but the two i drove had them on the colum i think? any help would be great.

questions i have

1. is there rust areas that need to be looked at I.E suspension points etc.
2. is there parts that are getting hard to find that if missing i should be concerned about.
3. he says the rockers have rust is this common.
4. whats the life exptance of the 2.8 if maintained.

cheers ed

Last edited by carrera turbo; 02-07-2010 at 05:30 PM. Reason: left out the "i"
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 08:42 PM
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You are looking to buy a W108 chassis. They are one of the most handsome post-war designs Mercedes built, IMO. I owned a '72 280SEL 4.5 (W108) back in the early '80s, and it was my first Mercedes.

The floor shift was an option. You'll be able to tell the minute you see it whether it is factory or not. I can't imagine anyone going to the trouble of converting a column shifter to the floor.

The model nomenclature tells you something about the engine. A 280S has a 2.8 liter carbureted engine. It is the lowest powered W108. The 280 SE has fuel injection and has more horsepower. The 3.5/4.5 models have either 3.5 or 4.5 liter V-8 engines and are most powerful and fastest. None of the 6-cylinder models are particularly fast. To be fair, they are no better than adequately powered, but once up to highway speeds, they can keep up with modern traffic. The V-8 models cruise and accelerate with modern rides (well, most modern rides; like 4-cylinder Corollas and stuff).

The W108 isn't bad to rust, but the cars don't have the rust-proofing of modern cars, so they will rust. If the car has been in snow and salt, it may have rust problems. Someone who knows W108s better than me can give you more information about sheet metal problems.

The 2.8 motor can last 250-300k and more IF the car has been maintained properly all its life. Mercedes are engineered to last almost indefinitely, but only if they are maintained as the factory recommends. Using cheap fluids, bulk oil changers (like Jiffy Lube), non-MB recommended fluids (Mercedes usually has VERY specific fluid quality requirements, but people think they can throw 7 quarts of 10W-30 from Wal-Mart in the crankcase and be fine), and lax maintenance intervals will shorten the life considerably.

If you are very lucky, you will find a car that has extensive and relatively complete maintenance records. That is the only way you will know the true condition of the car you buy. The seller to you will likely be the fourth or fifth owner.

The W108 is a very robust vehicle, but it is not indestructible. Neglect will shorten its life just like neglect will shorten the life of any vehicle. A neglected MB will probably still outlive most other marques neglected the same way, but it will not live to its design age.

Good luck in your search.

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you."--John Steinbeck
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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wow

thanks for the info i did find out it is injected and will be going to look at it in a day or two.

if anyone has anything to add please do.

cheers ed
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 11:51 AM
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Buy the best body and interior you can afford,
ALL mechanical can be easily repaired.

Just go for either the W109 300SEL's 4.5 or 6.3

30 yrs of ownership
I've never owned any car newer than 1972 (benz of course)

Brian O
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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well

i looked at the car and it was pretty good looking till i got under it. the rockers are really bad,there seems to be a inner and outer rocker and both look bad. there is some rust working its way towards the rear suspension pickup area. either way its more than i want to do at this point in the game. the car has sat outside since 03 and really shows it on the underside of the chassis. if i knew i was going to find another car like this one i would buy this as a parts car as there is a ton spare parts and has a good running motor and tranny, well i never saw it move but the owner says he drove it last year to its current location.

anyways the search continues.

cheers ed
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-10-2010, 10:54 PM
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We have cars here in San Diego which you could drive to Alaska, and then you could run this decade and next with a rust free body.
And those W108's are off-road capable, Been camping in Baja in those 4.5's .

NO reason to buy a rust-out.

Brian O
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2010, 02:14 PM
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Where in alaska are you?

If you wouldn't mind a canadian car and if you can ever make it down to vancouver there seem to be a few kicking around there on craigslist.

Those I6 engines in the 280 are fairly good engines, i bought a '69 280sel (fuel injected) that had been sitting for almost 2 years and once i got some new gas and new oil in there it actually ran quite well. Unfortunately it's sitting again
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2010, 06:41 PM
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Also make sure the heater blower works and does not make noise. It's a major pain on most early models to replace.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2010, 11:20 PM
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Hey guys just butting in here real quick to ask about this particular model. My only Mercedes is a 280se and it has only 60,000 original miles, with a slight (very small) area of rust on the right side of the vehicle, and just other tiny spots that are not even noticable. My question is, is this car worth more showing its "true" colors or if it was restored? I plan to sell it within the next couple months so j/w.. Thanks!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2010, 11:23 PM
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About to post some pics so you guys can shoot me some feedback if you would like.. and guys thanks again for all of the help!

Billy Benz

Ps- Some of you know from earlier "dramatic" posts that I am a full time college student, and recently my mazda just broke down after putting a pretty good lump of money into it. So basically, as soon as it is running it will be for sale, but I am also interested in a trade of any reasonable reliable vehicle because I drive to school and need transportation soon!! Just throwing that out there.. Take care.
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