Why should I buy this 1975 280C for $600 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-02-2010, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Why should I buy this 1975 280C for $600

Here's the deal. Wife sees this car parked out front of a house three or so years ago--sale by an estate. Is interested, but it disappears quickly. A month ago, it shows up at a house a half mile away for sale by an 88 year old guy.

Looked at it briefly today--best impression--it is a barn find, without being protected in a barn.

Notes--Two year out of date inspection, have to hold accelerator down to keep it running until it warms up (fuel probably should be drained and refilled)--don't know if the running better when warmed up means the carb is okay. Rust low in left rear quarter, front right fender, surface rust in some spots--floor pans and trunk look okay, including wheel wells. (I know about rust--have a family heirloom car I had to get it out of--hate rust!!) Don't know about (forgot to check) flex discs, bushings probably not great. I know the rear window seal is shot--other rubber should be in similar condition

Due to old inspection, can only drive it in three point turns in the guy's backyard. Shifts okay. Obviously none of this is under a realistic load.

Basic electric stuff works--lights, windows (very slow though). Figure A/C is out of commission. Forgot to check the heat/blower. Interior is M/B Tex--surprisingly good condition, given the faded and rough exterior. Dash wood needs redoing, and has typical dash crack by speaker. Absolutely would need a paint job at some point--figure this one would go to Maaco, not worth anything high priced.

Has quite a file of work done, but it's been a while--just been sitting with little done for a number of years--looks neglected. Current owner has done nothing with it except let it sit. Since odometer is at 59K, assume mileage is 159K, but didn't pour through records.

I know I've seen variations of these cars in decent shape for around 4K or so--and know enough about the dollars that it would probably take $1500 just to get it road worthy (new tires part of that bargain--figuring it may need new flex discs and fluids drained/refilled).

Absolutely a project car--but is it so bad to be a parts car?
Photos below--sorry these are the only pix I have, and I think make it look a bit better than it is--wife took them while I was looking it over:
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2010, 05:58 AM
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I'm not really too wild about the color. "Dunkel Rot" (dark red) was a good color for the sedans but not so much for the coupe.

Rust is indeed going to be your biggest concern. If the rear windscreen seal is bad then the front is probably shot. Seals are about $150, if you can find them. Add a hundred dollars for labor.

Since the rear seal is bad, pull the carpet out of the trunk and check the trunk floor thoroughly for rust. Use a screwdriver or awl and poke the metal flooring both in the trunk and the foot wells. Key places to check are the back of the rear wells and the acc. pedal mounting areas. Check below the battery in the engine compartment. Very common area for rust.

For whatever reason the coupes are prone to rust in the lower part of the front fender wells. Check this area closely. Also check the rear of the front sub frame bushing mounting areas.

Look around the front wind screen chrome strips for rust. Bad place for rust.

Inspect the front left frame where the steering gear box is mounted. Look closely for rust here.

You might as well figure on replacing all the mounts (engine, trans, diff, sub-frames- front and rear), flex disks and rubber fuel lines.

Does this one have the "thermactor" on the exhaust manifold? It was standard on the '76's but I have seen a couple of late '75's with it installed. It's a large turbo looking device on the end of the manifold.

Original Solex 4 BBL carb?
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2010, 09:01 AM
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I have a 1971 250 C. My comment would be that you are going to spend more on making it nice than it would cost to buy a nice one (in california at least).

On my car:

1. Front and rear window gaskets with installation: $500
2. Rear calipers with rotors, installation: $500
3. Rear emergency brake shoes (DIY) $50

On the car you show, I _like_ the color and if it were not for the rust issues, I would polish out the old paint and have it look much better than a Mayco paint job. Check the heater and AC fans and make sure both work even if the AC compressor doesn't work. The rear window seal leak will cause leaking in the trunk, which is particularly nasty if the rubber mat is in place to trap the moisture.

I wouldn't buy one that you couldn't actually drive, unless you are OK with replacing all of the front and rear suspension and axel boots, which would add up to a lot of money.

As a parts car, the glass and trim is unique, as is the interior except dash. Seats are unique. Your front fog lights are (at least one) rusty, so don't count on that as a good part.

Currently: 1967 250 SL, 1963 220Sb, 1965 300SE Lang, 1971 280SE parts car, 1972 Alfa GTV, 1965 Alfa Duetto, 1993 BMW R100R
Past: 1971 250 C, 1985 300 TD, 1967 250 S, 1968 280 S,1981 300 D, 1982 280CE, 3 Facel Vegas, Borgward Isabella Coupe, Alfa 2600 Sprint, Volvo P1900 (yes), numerous less interesting Volvos, ...
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2010, 04:42 PM
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One word

Transmission. Lots of $$$.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2010, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ed Mclass View Post
Transmission. Lots of $$$.
Strangely enough, of all the potential issues, that's one I was least worried about--probably because it did go into park, reverse and drive without issue---but didn't have a chance to test it in drive at any kind of speed. The rest of the package was enough to give pause and think about.

It's one of those cars--if someone gave it to me, I would probably have a shop check it over to see how much sorting out the mechanical stuff needs.
If too much--then I'd figure out which direction to take it (like the salvage yard).

Think this is gonna get a pass--and refocus on the cars I've got--for now!
(Waiting for a good barn find Pagoda!)

Thanks for all the info--supported what I felt was the case.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 07:31 PM
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Is it safe to flush the engine with the Gunk 5 minute engine flush for this 280C? since the car was sitting for three years?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 07:50 PM
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Should you buy this car ?
Even if free ( and the seller would be very lucky to get 'anything* for it being dead for 3 years or whatever ...at least it fires up and runs sort of I gather ) ...

even if for free, ...
I have worked on a number of these. I don't regard the DOHC 2.8 inline six in it as a good engine particularity ..thirsty on fuel and a bit 'smogified.'

If you really like to coupe body style...or the color ..
or always wanted one ...'sure' .

the Carb can be a nightmare on this model.
I belivve it uses a vacuum pump to increase available vacuum for the power brakes ..
something no normal engine should need.

For a 'fairly worth project' ....and you have the time, money, and inclination ...sure go for it.
I still wouldn't say that's a good model exactly or year . It's got crash bumpers ....which the designers of that body didn't have in mind when they designed it, so those look tacked on.
so it's not like it's quite a thoroughbred.
that IS a very, very good chassis. My first Mercedes, owned twice, and currently owned is a early and extra good model in that series, the 114 ( or 4 cylinder 115 ) chassis.
Exceptionally well balanced car. You could have a low rear tire and not be able to tell, they are that stable. The four door car is really a better car ..just more solid and practical. A 1970 114 Chassis has 'the right engine' ..
a 2.5 SOHC inline six with no smog stuff on it at all. Runs just like they intended it to in Germany in 1970. This 75 280C is 'messed up' by emiisoins and crash regulations, for what it is.
By 72 they had smogified US models so much that a 1972 250 is actually 2.8 liters to make up for the lost power , and fuel economy is worse.
This is about a 15mpg car I hope you realize. Possibly worse.

But I always say ..if it's just something you have always admired and wanted...sure, and 'if' it's not rusted or crashed or extreme high miles etc.

Color matters a lot to me. If you like that darkish plumb color fine, doesn't do a lot for me, though the cream top sure helps !

I still would say it's not a good version of the series ..that's the last year of that body style , 1975. The original version, with tucked in chrome traditional style bumpers ...early simpler tail lights, and vent windows ...
that's the more pure to the concept of that series of Mercedes.

A few points off for that I'd say ..
oh ...rust was mentioned..
they only sane thing to do with any of these 70's era cars is remove the solid rubber truck floor mat ! They just collect moisture and keep it there ...
unless in the desert, every one of this type and era Benz sedan has rust on the trunk floor. Surface rust is very easily stopped and treated however.

Body cancer rust ...if you want a decent car eventually you really don't want that.
I have too many cars as is, ( though only two Mercedes. the 70 250 sedan 'Ursula" ...........probably the best overall, most reliable, excellent handling, robust strong car I've owned , and a 78 450SLC ..
and that was a homeless Mercedes ...paid $ 200 for it with a smashed back window and barely running ) ...

was just going to say, I would not take on this 280C even for free, but I have too many projects cars already.
There are better versions of what this is let's say.
if you like it though ..that's what I'd go by.
I let that 450SLC sit 50 feet from the back door of my shop in an industrial area for about 5 years....just sitting there dead, getting wet ..
don't need a thirsty old project car like that ........but then for 200 bucks..
Hey why not, it is an S Class Mercedes with an aluminum OHC fuel injected V-8 after all. Has potential.
Just be careful on the 280C ..unless you don't care that it's that good ..
if you just want a knock-around runner ...that might not cost 'that much' if you are lucky. Oh btw...that's a dorky size tire on there. What looks and fits and works very well is the 195/70 R 14. Way mo' betta tire than the stock size there.
Gotta say too ..
I have seen many of these older Benz's, worked on them, and checked them out for people to consider buying ..
and I have seen OVER and OVER that these exceptionally well made cars can seem to drive just fine from behind the steering wheel.
But when you really look into them mechanically ...they can be really rather worn out in most systems. I saw one for $ 400 once, 12 years ago ..
and it had worn out cam lobes ...and everything else was tired..shocks, exhaust system etc. etc. So be careful, be rich, or don't care how good or not good it is. It is 35 years old after all. ( sure was a trip reading about the 770K found in Iraq if that's a true story . )

there is nothing like a Mercedes Benz really. The older ones, at least, are in a separate class by themselves, compared to most cars.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 12:08 PM
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Hi Scott, Thank you for your reply. I decided to purchase the car since I like the coupe and after comparing several Benzes, this one has the least rust and at least it is in running condition. I drove the car home, 25 miles in distance, the car survived Washington, DC beltway stop and go traffic.
The next thing I plan to do is change all the oil and flush the brake. Then, I will work on the body parts.
My only problem is being 5'2 tall is hard to see the road. I have to see the road from the gap between the steering wheel and dash-board. Somehow, the driver seat is so low. I did not have this problem when I had 1970 230.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 02:45 PM
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Hey all right..
congrats on your fine new Mercedes Coupe !
and ..
25 miles home through DC traffic ..that bodes well.

yes, the seats are mounted very low.
I have raised mine twice ..
using spacers where they bolt to the floor.

and of course the seats themselves sag badly too.
MB also cut corners and made the seats cheaper at some point ..
1975 might be before that point though.

swapping the front seats helps sometimes.
They are not exactly identical ..
but often the passenger's seat isn't munched down as much as the driver's seat.

congrats proud new owner !
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