Mercedes’ line of W108/W109 sedans (the different chassis codes were used to indicate coil or air suspension with a few early exceptions) truly embody the classic experience upon which they built their reputation for heirloom-quality cars. Classic sixties styling – itself an evolution of Mercedes’ 1950s design – a raspy exhaust note on the six cylinder cars, and low prices, makes these compelling values for the budget classic car enthusiast. Yes, you’ll have to swallow some high parts prices, but maintaining an old Mercedes at reasonable cost is a well-trodden path. To keep that cost down, some authorities will recommend sticking to the lower-specification cars so you don’t have to deal with 50-year-old “modern” conveniences. In that spirit, let’s take a look at this 1968 Mercedes 250S for sale for $2500 in Portland, OR.
That’s the classic face, and it’s nice to see a car listed with the lights turned on to suggest something about the health of the electrical system. It’s said to have 65,000 miles and 3 owners since new, but unless you’re provided with records, take that all with a grain of salt. The more critical question is whether maintenance was kept up, and this car is said to have had plenty of recent maintenance. That includes new tires, brake pads, master cylinder and calipers, and muffler.
The car’s also said to have had a tune-up, fresh coolant and brake fluid, new fuel filters, differential service, restored fuel tank, and a tuning of the carburetor and engine. The car has been stored for several years, so you’ll want to confirm all that service was done after the storage – sellers can define “recent” based on miles traveled or time passed, and some of those items are more time- than mileage-sensitive. Things look pretty decent around the back here, though there is some accumulation of muck around the trim, suggesting the car was stored outdoors. Absent model designation could suggest a hit to the rear, and though the front lights were on, the rears are not.
Here’s the recipient of some of the attention listed above. Things look clean enough to add credibility to the recent service, but there’s still room for a new owner to spend some time making everything look pretty. Opinions seem to be divided on the carburetor vs. MFI vs. EFI (on the V8s) question, with each having its strengths, so if this car runs well, the carb shouldn’t be a deterrent (though the slowest 0-60 time might be, at 13 seconds for a manual car). Thankfully, the manual transmission gives a one second advantage over automatic cars, and is said to be a bit better suited to the 250, while also reducing complexity. New wiper blades visible in this shot suggest the car’s been prepared for daily Northwest duty.
The interior looks pretty decent, with nearly-intact upholstery, faded-but-intact wood, and strangely, missing carpet. Wind-up windows are a bonus, as the electric windows are said to be weak and not that reliable. The radio is missing from its hole, and it appears the door panels have never been cut for speakers. Unfortunately for a daily driver, this car doesn’t have headrests. Importantly, all the heater switch controls have been replaced, as these are prone to sticking, but no details are given as to whether the heater/fan system actually works. So what we have here is a solid classic Mercedes buy, right?
Well, not quite. As well as documenting what appears to be a set of matching white dog-dish hubcaps, the two trunk shots show substantial rust-through on both trunk wells. So yes, it’s a manual-transmission, manual-window, no a/c car to keep things simple and fun, but you’ll want to check very carefully – this rust could be a result of leaking trunk seals, or perhaps the entire underneath has been exposed to storage on damp ground. Would you still give it a chance?