Junkyard Gem: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 4.5

A big, fast, luxurious German luxury sedan reaches the end of the road.

View 15 Photos
The last big luxury car made by Mercedes-Benz prior to the use of the S-Class designation was the W108, built for the 1965 through 1973 model years. These were serious machines, built to staggeringly high quality standards and priced accordingly; the 280SE 4.5 was one of the top high-roller sedans of 1972. Here's one that lasted for 45 years before ending up in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.

There's not a trace of rust on this car, and the interior looks like it's about five years old. Why, then, is this car facing the cold steel jaws of the crusher?

Here's why: a value-destroying engine fire. The flames didn't spread much outside the engine compartment, but the cost of fixing this damage would be more than the price tag on a pretty nice 280SE 4.5.

The 4.5-liter overhead-cam V8 in this car was rated at 230 horsepower, which was a lot of power for 1972 (keep in mind that American-market cars had switched to net horsepower ratings in 1971, resulting in an across-the-board decrease in power numbers). The base 5.7-liter V8 in the 1972 Corvette had just 200 horsepower (the optional LT-1 V8 made 255), while the 7.7-liter V8 in the 1972 Cadillac DeVille generated 220 horses.

Speaking of the 1972 Cadillac DeVille, the price tag on a Sedan DeVille that year was $6,390. Meanwhile, the far less opulent and much smaller (though also much quicker) 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4.5 listed at $10,078 (those prices become $38,084 and $60,064, respectively, when converted to inflated 2017 dollars).

MB-Tex seat fabric is immortal, more or less, and even the Arizona sun couldn't do much damage to this car's seats over the decades.

Related Video:

Share This Photo X