When I think of what car culture was like in the 70s, I picture this 1976 Mercedes-Benz 280, despite the fact that this was never a factory colour from the German luxury auto maker. This is a custom paint job on a full restoration project, and a colour that truly stands out xwhen driving down the street or parked at a car meet. The white roof also adds to the mint fresh appearance of this 40 year old classic, another change that Mercedes never would have approved of.
The W114 chassis is unique in the sense that two identical cars with the same length, height, and wheelbase were produced with different codes. The W114 we have here is given such designation because it came with a 6 cylinder engine, whereas the inline 4 models were stamped as W115s. This '76 280 is special in the fact that you're looking at the culmination of 3 different cars in order to restore this to the way it looks today. The body came from a '76 diesel from New Brunswick, the interior came from a '73 gasoline donor, and the engine was sources from a wrecked 280 carbureted model.
Together those three cars made one very excellent one with just a few changes such as the paint, the fender mirrors should be on the doors, and an air ride suspension was added, though we asked the owner to raise it to factory spec for the filming and photography of this episode of TestDrive Spotlight. This Slash8 comes complete with US-Spec 11" bumpers and sealed-beam headlights mandated by US transportation laws.
Out back we find everything in order, with the gas filler beside the passenger tail light which was typical for vehicles built in the 60s and 70s. The 280 badge is original for the engine, though this body would have originally read 300D. If you aren't familiar with early Mercedes model designations, the 280 corresponds to the engine size, being a 2.8L inline 6, but the lack of the E found on most of the newer cars like the 560SEL means this car was carbureted instead of having a fuel-injection system. Mercedes finally dropped the E moniker from their models in the mid 90s with their format change from ###AA(A) to A###.
Inside this W114 we find a very original interior, with a newer radio unit being the only real modification to the inside. The dashboard and gauge cluster are original to the diesel chassis, so things like the glow plug light and diesel engine choke are still visible though inactive. The feel of the interior is incredible, everything has a quality to it we haven't experienced before in a car. Each button feels engineered and every switch built for a specific purpose.
The lack of an airbag might turn some away, but this Mercedes-Benz was quite innovative for safety for it's time. All 4 wheels have disc brakes, something cheaper cars from the late 2000s still lacked. Also unlike some newer domestic cars from the 80s, the rear passengers had shoulder belts. But we don't buy a car like this today for safety, we buy it for the design, and the fact that it's 40 years old and still turning heads.
You can watch our entire episode of TestDrive Spotlight on this 1976 Mercedes-Benz 280 below: