1973 Mercedes Benz 280SEL 4.5 Projects

January 17, 2017

Since 1978 I have been a PCA member and have owned a number of Porsches over the years. During that time I have had three previous Mercedes; a 1984 190, a 1986 190 2.3-16, and a 2012 Sprinter based motorhome.

Since I retired eight years ago, I have kept myself busy by buying a good vintage car and then trying to make it better. Four years ago I did a body off restoration on a 1964 Corvette coupe, two years ago I did a partial restoration of a ’67 Porsche 912 with a 1983 SC motor, and I did a pro-touring Camaro with a LS1 motor about seven years ago. And there have been smaller projects along the way.

4-1-13 knock off wheels 5 sm3-22-13 engine 6  sm3-22-13 interior from right sm3-14-13 exhaust sm7-9-15 Exterior 117-9-15 interior7-7-15 engine 28-27-11 autofair fall 1977 Camaro LS1 engine 2 sm3-15-11 1977 Camaro lf 3-4 sm3-15-11 1977 Camaro dash from left sm

Since I currently did not have a project, the search was on through Craigslist, eBay, Bring a Trailer, Autotrader, etc. For something different, I decided I wanted a big four door sedan. The search soon was narrowed to Mercedes. I really like the W126 cars but ultimately settled on an earlier car.

The US government was kind enough to send me to Germany for 26 months back in the mid sixties. The W108’s came out during my time there and I have always loved the clean looks. Fortunately, the car pictured here was for sale only a couple hours away.

It is a 1973 280SEL 4.5. The car had always been a California car until about a year ago. The first owner sold it in 1991 with 96K on the odometer (I have a copy of the bill of sale). The second owner sold it to the North Carolina owner a little over a year ago with the mileage being 174K. I have all the original manuals with the service manual showing service stamps through 20K miles.

The second owner, who lived overseas, kept all of his records from the time he bought it. It was regularly serviced and stored at a Mercedes specialist with the storage instructions stating the car was to be stored with the cover on and was to be driven at least 20 miles every month. When the owner was going to be in town, he would call the specialist to have him service and clean the car so it would be ready to go.

At 132K the heads were done and the timing chains replaced. Four thousand miles and seven years ago the valves were adjusted. The bill shows that the timing chains and guides were inspected at this time and were in good shape.

In 2000 the car was rear ended with evidently slight damage as the estimate was for $2860. Since the car now has a base/clear finish, I would assume the entire car was painted at that time. They did an excellent job and evidently removed the trim as I cannot find evidence of overspray.

As with most old cars, it does have some needs. I will be addressing those in the coming months. I also am very open to any advice on items discussed in this thread. As you will see in the photos below, the engine bay needs attention and I will begin there.





  1. Hello Jerry, I am building a 77 camaro like the one you built. I love the hood that was on your car, I would love to use the same one I mine. Could you tell me who made it as well as all the specs you know about it. Thank you , Matt

    • The hood was on the car when I bought it so I don’t know where it came from. I am sure you can find a high rise hood. Good luck on your build.


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