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  #1  
Old 01-14-2017, 12:21 PM
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"Bad Benzo" - 1976 W114 280 Sedan

In October of 2015, I was browsing eBay and found a yellow W114 for sale locally. The listing had poor quality photos, with a description left much to be desired. From what I could tell, the car appeared to be complete, but was listed as non-running.

For whatever reason, I was interested in the car, and placed a max bid of $200. A week passed, the auction ended, and, to my surprise, nobody outbid me. Even though the reserve was unmet, I figured it wouldn't hurt to go see the thing and contacted the seller.



When I got there, the car was indeed complete, but definitely had issues from being stored outside for a long period of time. The car would not run, and it was obvious there were several things that would need attention. The seller assured me that the car was running and he would drive it on occasion, but the flat tires and inability to start painted a much different picture in my mind.



The more I walked around the car, the more I grew to like it, but a voice inside told me to walk away. I already have another project car and I bought a house only a few months before, so I had a lot on my plate. (I still do) I politely told the owner that my max bid was $200 and I couldn't afford what he hoped to get for the car ($1,800-$2000).

Later that day, I got a text from the seller who reluctantly accepted my lowball offer. I made some arrangements towed the car home a few days later. After a few weeks of tinkering, I grew frustrated and gave up on the car. Before I knew it, there was over a foot of snow on the ground and wrenching was out of the question. It wasn't until February and work was slow that I started to dig into the car a bit more.

While the car did come with a near complete service history, and at least two of the previous owners appeared to be neurotic Benz fanatics, the deeper I got into this car, the more messed up I found it to be. In some ways, it was more messed up than my 1966 Volvo Amazon Wagon that I pulled from a barn after a 40+ year slumber. In other ways, it was in much better shape. The Solex carb? In perfect tune. The electrics? A mess; the condenser wire was cut, the spark plug wires were mismatched, and many terminals were corroded. The floors, well, after I pulled up the carpet, were a disaster.

As my enthusiasm waned, I eventually gave up on the mechanical side of the car and decided to address some of the cosmetic issues to boost my morale. Refinishing the wood trim helped me regain some excitement for the project.



Then a most lucky find came along. I discovered a W116 450 SEL in a junkyard with a near mint leather interior, a set of 5 14" Bundt wheels, and a bunch of other parts that would prove valuable to my restoration. I softened up the seats with Bag Balm, fitted some BFG Radial T/As and buffed out the paint.











Now I was excited about the car again, and determined to get it running. Part II below.
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Old 01-14-2017, 12:43 PM
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Part II

Now that the car had a fresh look, new wheels, and leather seats, I had a lot more motivation to get the car running, even if only to sell it.

With the help of a friend, we cleaned all the contacts in the engine bay, replaced any blown fuses, and tracked down any ground issues. I replaced the ballasts, condenser, sorted out the spark wiring issue, and cleaned up the cap & rotor. Finally, the car would turn over, and what a glorious sound it made! The engine was really strong... well, after all the carbon and junk was blown out the back.

The car still had some gremlins so it continued to sit as I worked through the other loose ends. Meanwhile, I replaced the urethane wheel with a Momo wheel that I found from a seller in Bulgaria.



I also thought it would be fun to add some venetian blinds that I found from a guy in Thailand.





By this time, I had the car running reliably and figured I should probably put it on the road and at least enjoy it a little. I couldn't find a suitable muffler locally, so I fitted a cherry bomb and removed the dorky US bumpers to echo my favorite Mercedes-Benz, Die Rote Sau.





Once I started driving the car regularly, I really began to love this car. The idea of lowering it, or doing anything to the suspension didn't really appeal to me because A) the roads near me are absolutely terrible, and B) this car handles wonderfully in stock form. At this point, I decided this wasn't going to be a flip, and it was worth investing more energy into it. The feedback I was getting from other people on the road was tremendous, and I really liked the attention and encouragement. Much of my satisfaction came from the idea that I took a neglected car and got it running again. While the idea of a full restoration is out of the question, tinkering with this thing has proved to be a very rewarding experience.

Part III below:
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Old 01-14-2017, 01:11 PM
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Part III

Okay, so now that the car is on the road, things weren't 100%. The throttle linkage definitely needed quite a bit of work, as did a few other things that were a little... "tired" from sitting for so long. I started driving the car for short trips, taking routes I knew well, or that I knew had areas where I could pull over if necessary. This strategy worked well as I "familiarized" myself with the car.

In between parts orders, I tackled some other issues, like treating the rust in the trunk.







I didn't want to bother with replacing the beautiful Becker Europa II headunit just to gain an auxiliary input, so I sourced a 7 pin DIN to 1/8" minijack adapter from a seller on eBay. Here's a little parody video I put on my car's blog.

More recently, I grew frustrated with the broken clock... well, more like the series of broken clocks I encountered from various salvage yard pulls. After the third one, I just gave up on the idea of finding a working clock. Using a tutorial from either this forum, or another, I installed a VDO Vision series tachometer where the clock used to be.







Surprisingly, the VDO tachometer is a decent match to the aesthetics of the car, and the backlight is a warm enough color that it doesn't look too out of place while driving at night. While the mod was pretty straightforward, I did take several photos along the way that I am willing to share for those interested in the process.

More recently, I found a gray market W115 300D at a junk yard about a half hour from my house. I stripped off some trim pieces, including a rare passenger side mirror, which I have never seen on a US spec car. The actual mirror glass was missing, but a W116 a couple rows over had some extra clean glass ready to swap in. Thankfully, the install was relatively easy since the door already has the mounting holes for the passenger side mirror.







That's where things stand as of today. Current plans include a custom exhaust using a pair of 3-1 Euro headers that I found, backdating to the early 68-73 bumpers, installing new floor pans, and replacing window seals. Pelican/Peach has been great about having the right quality parts I need when nobody else seems to have them, and I am really thankful for this forum. I'm still not sure where this restoration will take me, but I am having a lot of fun doing this on a relatively small budget. These cars were built really well; even though my example is far from the best, or even an ideal place to start, I've found that these cars can be very forgiving. If anything, this car makes me want to find an early W114 coupe or C107 to add to my collection.

Last edited by Bad Benzo; 01-14-2017 at 01:22 PM.
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  #4  
Old 01-15-2017, 11:59 PM
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Awesome work. Thanks for taking the time to document all of that. I need to do many of those same projects, so hopefully seeing your photos will motivate me to get my act together.
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  #5  
Old 01-16-2017, 06:33 AM
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nice work man
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Old 01-16-2017, 07:06 AM
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Very nice! I really like the RWL tires with the Bundt wheels on that car. It has a very "rat benz" vibe.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:44 AM
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I'm not usually a big fan of customizing a car, but I'm impressed where this one is headed. And you can't beat the price! Great work!
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2017, 01:38 AM
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Minor update:

I found a set of early style bumpers on the other side of the country. The front arrived today, but it will be another week before I get the rear.







User gmog220d has a really good thread on how he fit the front bumper to his W115. I did some poking around this afternoon, and I think his solution will work on my W114. Right now, it's a little too cold to be working on the car and stay comfortable, so I'll have to wait for some warmer weather before I mount them permanently. The early bumpers are a definite visual improvement over the old US diving boards.
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1976 Mercedes-Benz W114 280 Sedan "Bad Benzo"
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Last edited by Bad Benzo; 01-25-2017 at 01:40 AM. Reason: Images
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:12 AM
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Why the black hood?
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Old 01-25-2017, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyl604 View Post
Why the black hood?
Two reasons, one, the paint wasn't perfect. This car was stored under a pine tree for many years and there are several areas on the hood, roof, and trunk with stains, pitting, or paint loss. I buffed most of it out the best I could, but not all of it.

The second reason was that growing up, I was fascinated by endurance rally cars. I remember one book that had a profile on the infamous W123 and C107 cars, many of which had black hoods. Since the paint wasn't perfect, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try something different and experiment with Plasti-dip. If anything, it's an homage to those tough-as-nails Benzes that really solidified my appreciation for the brand.
Attached Thumbnails
"Bad Benzo" - 1976 W114 280 Sedan-1978_mercedes_benz_280e_w123_fatory_rally_car_for_sale_front_1.jpg   "Bad Benzo" - 1976 W114 280 Sedan-eng-rally-team-rand-variation.jpg  
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Old 01-25-2017, 06:27 PM
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Oh man, this is great! I've always liked "stock" rally cars, especially M-Bs. Heck, rally was all M-B did for years after the 1955 LeMans disaster.

I really like what you've got going on with this car, black hood and all. I shoulda kept the '73. It was kind of beat, and would have made an excellent rally rat beater. And yeah, W114/W115 are really superb handling cars. I think they feel better than W123, and visibility out of the car is awesome.

Now all you need is a bull bar and roof rack!

PS - Nice job on that front bumper. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the rear.
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"Bad Benzo" - 1976 W114 280 Sedan-w115_rally.jpg  
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  #12  
Old 01-26-2017, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Benzo View Post

The black hood on the yellow car makes me wonder if you have any secret plans to go into the student transportation business.

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  #13  
Old 04-21-2017, 08:16 PM
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Some updates:

First of all, I took the car to Watkins Glen for opening weekend.



I went down with a crew of over 250 cars from The Little Speed Shop in Rochester, NY. We had some really choice whips, and a few rust buckets like mine. I went down with a friend of mine who recently purchased a 1967 Corvair coupe and we had a blast. Perfect day for a drive, and the Benz made it without a single incident, although getting up over 80 mph was nearly impossible. There's always next year!

Second, I completed my rear bumper install and the car looks much less haggard.



Basically, all I had to do was drill out a blocked off hole on the driver side, clean out some waterproofing or panel adhesive, and assemble. If you end up like me and need to source bumper brackets, I am happy to report that they are still made by M-B.

I have more photos and a detailed description of the install process on my blog.

For the past week, the Benz has served as my daily driver, averaging 150 miles per day, and anywhere from 13-18 MPG. (Oddly enough, the 18 is on 35-45 MPH country roads, and the 13 is highway) To be honest, I'm really impressed with how this car has held up. Now that the weather is nice, I have some big plans to address some of the other problems it has... like tracing down the broken vacuum line that prevents the doors from locking and unlocking.
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