1972 Mercedes Benz 280SE – $1500

“1972 Mercedes Benz 280SE for sale. This is a GREAT city vehicle with a tonne of character. 5spd automatic transmission, gasoline engine, sunroof, and power windows. New battery. Has a bit of rust on the front bumper as well. Car runs well, but would run great if someone wanted to put a little elbow grease into her. Currently in underground storage, covered. “

I will confess, I’ve never been a big fan of Mercedes Benz’ automobiles. With the exception of a few of their classic roadsters, I’ve always found their vehicles, both new and old, to be a bit too Germanic for my British-tuned tastes; when you’ve whetted your appetite on lithe Jaguars, there’s little room for a brand that put out a car who’s styling earned it the moniker “Pagoda,” officially. But, regardless, I must admit that they do have an undeniable presence on the road, especially the late sixties/early seventies sedans. This ’72 280SE is exemplary of the most common Mercedes’ of this era; large, luxurious, and stalwart. Among the first Mercedes Benz vehicles to really be manufactured in any great number, they were available in almost innumerable configurations ranging from spry short wheelbase coupes and convertibles to long wheelbase 6.3L V8 powered monsters destined for the garages of third world despots and dictators. This one, being a sedan endowed with the uber-common 2.8L inline six, is somewhere in the middle of the pack, trading the entry level 280S’ dual downdraft carburetors for fuel injection. This raised the horsepower level to 160 and allowed automatic transmission-equipped cars such as this to hit a surprising 185 kilometres per hour (manual gearboxes pushed that figure to an even 190), with 100 kph being surpassed in just over ten seconds.

Now, whether or not this particular example is capable of that performance is another matter entirely. Being both German, and one of the earlier examples of fuel injection extant means that this is one complicated car. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate into this being an unreliable car. Typically extremely well designed and beautifully executed, older Mercedes Benz’ like this offer a unique challenge for the tinkerer as they often don’t require the same degree of constant maintenance that many other classic cars do… but can prove difficult when things do go south as parts can require some diligence to find. Look for rust around the doors, both on the body and the complex joins that form the rear doors’ shape around the latch (as well as all the usual places around the trunk, floors, sills and fenders), but if the ad is telling the truth, corrosion won’t be a problem. Finally, considering most people that bought these cars were established older folks looking for a good, reliable car, check for issues stemming from disuse rather than abuse. These aren’t Mustangs and Camaros; many lived in covered garages, were cleaned regularly, and kept maintained, but a lack of exercise has led many of these cars requiring some mechanical exorcisms.


1972 DeTomaso Pantera – $49000

Matching numbers, 50K. I have owned the car for 11 years and have replaced and restored from top to bottom. Car was stripped and painted 8 years ago. Steel flares with mods. 351 Cleveland rebuilt from the ground up. Dyno at 421 HP. Upgrade on brakes, cooling, MSD. ignition. Performance cam, holley carb., Kinesis wheels, Michelin pilots. Too much to list. Don’t miss this beauty.”

The DeTomaso Pantera. Expensive, exotic, and unique; the bizarre and somewhat shortlived ‘70s supercar is just one of many that most car enthusiasts forget about… until they see one. Eye fetchingly low and incredibly aggressive in its design, the Pantera was the cool combination of American Tom Tjaarda’s excellent design skills and the Italian firm’s unhinged sense of realism. After all, launching a small-block, Ford V8-powered, mid-engined, Italian supercar in the midst of the oil-starved early seventies and maintaining it as a viable business through the recession of the 80s wasn’t exactly DeTomaso’s brightest idea. And as a car, it wasn’t exactly stellar. Although brilliant at times, it was famously unreliable, leading to Elvis Presley shooting his personal ’74 Pantera on multiple occasions.

Now, hopefully a few decades’ passage has sorted out the Pantera’s various mechanical and electrical gremlins, because this is one awesome car. Equipped with just 330 horsepower in its earlier guises, the Pantera still managed to sprint to 60 miles per hour in a respectable 5.5 seconds, and one can assume that this one’s 421 horsepower should shave some time off that. Additionally, the upgraded brakes, cooling, and ignition (that last bit, specifically) should work wonders on the car’s ability to run all the way to 60 miles per hour, and beyond, reliably. However, its steep price tag of $49,000 might cause more than a few to balk, especially given the car’s modified nature. But one should remember that it’s nearly as engaging as its contemporary competitor, the eyeball-conquering Lamborghini Countach, albeit more reliable and easier to drive. And even at a grand shy of $50K, it’s still cheaper than a myriad of vastly less impressive vehicles.