Let me share a few more details about how I came to own this wonderful car.
Frist, a short history lesson. Its a W109 chassis, which means it has air suspension. The 300SEL was of the early W108/9 models which started the series, along with the 250S and 250SE. But its worth noting that in 1966, the price of a new 300SEL ($11,800) was more than double that of the 250S! The 300SEL is quite special in that is has the mighty M189 3 liter 6 cylinder motor. This engine is a near cousin to the M198 used in the 300SL gullwing and roadster of the 1950s. It features an aluminum block and a Bosch mechanical fuel injection. Unfortunately, its famous for very expensive replacement parts. The cost of things like distributor caps and water pumps are frequent topics of discussion.
Now, about this particular car. Sometime around 1987, it was parked in the garage of million dollar home in northern New Jersey. It remained there, unused, since. Its owners passed away in 2010, leaving the house and car behind. Last week I found an advertisement on craigslist which simply read “1967 mercedes benz 300 sel 4 door sedan dark green with beige interior” with a phone number. I called and asked a few questions… sitting about 24 years, no rust. I arranged to see the car in person.
It was as described. A time capsule. Original paint, no significant rust. The garage was clean and dry. Since it was connected to the house, it benefitted from heat and air conditioning from the rest of the house. There were still some forgotten about personal belongings on the floor of the back seat, as if the owner stepped out of the car 24 years ago and never thought about it again. Although there were no farms anywhere in the immediate area, I think its safe to say this was a true “barn find”.
While I was very impressed, the owner mentioned already having someone interested in the car for parts for more than I was willing to pay. After all, getting this car running could be a very expensive undertaking, so I wasn’t willing to pay much for it. Later on that day, I called the seller and told him that if the deal he had fell through, let me know and we’d work something out. He called the next day. He didn’t want to see the car parted out. Long story short, I agreed to buy the car for restoration, not parts and we struck a deal. I arranged to pick up the car that Saturday.
When Saturday came around, two friends and I arrived at the house with a borrowed GL 550, a U-Haul trailer, and huge number of tools, just in case. Since the car has air suspension that hasn’t seen pressure in decades, it was sitting just a few inches off the floor
We went to work with an air compressor. First, on the tires. Then, on the valve on the side of the air suspension tank in the front left fender. After a few minutes, the car started to rise! We put the transmission in neutral (using the lever on the trans itself, the linkage bushing were gone), and pushed it out into the sunlight.
A bit more pushing, and we managed to get it up on the trailer.
We brought the car to a temporary location I can keep it until I’m ready to start working on it at home. All and all, it was a very satisfying day, and a great succes. Although we were prepared for the worst case scenario, the only tool we needed was an air compressor to rescue this car!