Slammed Elegance: The Perfect Benz Cruiser
Vintage Luxury

As part of our daily work here at Speedhunters, we are exposed to all sorts of modified vehicles. From mild restomods, to brand new performance cars loaded up with the latest high-end parts, to racing vehicles that bear no resemblance to any street car.

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And while we’ve looked at cars built to suit every type of budget and every kind of taste, the great thing is there really are no rules to completing an effective build. Yes, we’ve featured plenty of cars that have modification lists that are pages long, but there’s no correlation between the amount of work done and the overall appeal of a car.

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In fact, sometimes it’s the cars with the more subtle and understated approaches that can impress the most. As they often say, less is more.

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And that brings us to a vintage Mercedes-Benz that can be found cruising the streets of Southern California and just drips with 1970s luxury car coolness.

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While this Benz might be simple in its approach, the car’s actually a vision that has been perfectly realized by its owner Jimmy Uria.

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Jimmy grew up modifying Japanese imports and one of his other vehicles is actually a heavily modified Honda Del Sol. But back in 2009 he decided to change things up a bit; he wanted a car that was big, old and low.

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He had two cars on his mind. One was an old Cadillac and the other was an old Mercedes, and his ideas for both included air bags for a slammed ride height.

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First he bought the Cadillac and then around one year later he found the Mercedes-Benz – a 1972 280SE four-door with the factory V6 engine. The car was all stock, and after a new set of tires the old Benz became Jimmy’s daily driver for his 90-mile commute.

Built To Cruise
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As he was daily driving the car, Jimmy started gathering parts and planning out the rest of the modifications for the Benz. But after suffering some engine problems the project got sidelined a bit. Not long after that Jimmy was searching online for parts he came across another ’72 280SE that was for sale.

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While he already had an old Benz, there was something special about this new one, namely the fact that it was a right-hand drive European model that had been fully legalized for the US and was also powered by the rare 3.5-liter V8 engine.

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Jimmy test drove the car and fell in love with it. Sure, he already had a 280SE, but the right-hand drive, V8 engine and overall uniqueness of this one were too cool to pass up. A deal was made and Jimmy was now the owner of another 1972 280SE.

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After taking ownership of this car Jimmy had a newfound inspiration to proceed with his vision of a vintage Benz that was slammed to the ground. Just a month after acquiring the RHD car, plans were made for an air ride suspension.

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Universal Air Suspension of San Bernardino, California, was called upon to redo the 280SE’s footwork. The airbag setup includes a 5-gallon air tank and a pair of Viair 480C compressors, with the height naturally adjusted from the comfort of the driver’s seat.

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With the ride height set at its maximum low there’s significant negative camber in both the front and and the rear, and this was all part of Jimmy’s vision. It adds just the right amount of change to what’s otherwise a very stock car.

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Rather than going with a set of aftermarket wheels, Jimmy wanted to stick with a very original look for the Benz, thus the factory 14-inch wheels with OEM hub caps.

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Wide white-walls were another important part of Jimmy’s plan, and the tires are BF Goodrich Silvertown radials with 2-1/4-inch white bands.

Going The Simple Route
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The air suspension is actually the only significant aftermarket modification made to the car. Aside from that, most of the work Jimmy has done involves restoring the Benz cosmetically and also adding a few of the European market parts he had gathered for his first 280SE.

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The body, for example, was repainted in its original shade of silver but with a House of Kolor clear-coat. All of the chrome trim around the car was re-plated too.

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Other exterior changes include European headlights with H4 bulbs and foglights, French market tailights, a rare grille guard and a European front license plate.

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Inside, the cabin is equally original with the factory upholstery and that classic steering wheel still in place. The only non-factory items are gauges for the air suspension and a recently upgraded stereo system.

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Jimmy knows that Mercedes-Benz purists might look down on him for slamming what’s otherwise an elegant and rare luxury car from the 1970s, but that doesn’t bother him one bit.

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And who’s to say a car that’s slammed to the deck can’t be elegant? Not only does this old school Mercedes look downright cool, but Jimmy has done everything he set out to do with the project, and for that we love it.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media
mike@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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43 comments

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1

Gorgeous

2

congrats on the feature Jimmy! awesome pics LC.

3

Great car, very elegant and classy!  Had the opportunity to check this out first hand at the 6th Street Bridge Farewell.  Great Build guys, well done!

4

larry loves the 6th street bridge

5
Tiddlywinkywinkywinky

Lovely.

6

A 1972 280SE would have a I6, not a V6. Otherwise, good looking benz and great pictures. Pity they're all rusty out here...

7

butterballs I shot this on the last day pretty much. Now it's gone forever!

8

thanks benz, 3.5 V8 or straight 6 on 2.8 liter. Correct.

9

my dad got a blue 3.5, great engine...

10
Thompsons garage

Nice to see a car that is very similar to mine except for the air suspension and the headlights

12

These Mercedes look like art, refined and classy, shame the new ones are all too aggressive looking

13

Car is cool, don't know about the owner! =p

14

I'm diggin' it, the wide-whitewalls add a perfect compliment. Funny, British import with German plates. Wonder too why he flopped the gear selector to the left side?

15

This is stock. The gear selector and turn signal/wiper switch are opposite on RHD cars.

16

Done right! Whats with the extra taillight fixture?

17

Strange, must be a Mercedes mirror-image thing. All the other RHD cars I've owned are the same as their Continental/American counterparts.

18

European rear fog light.

19

Very nice post to wake up to. I daily drive an '83 W123 240D, and these cars are built so solid that it's hard not to love every ounce of their heavy structure... I've been considering picking up a W108 or comparable earlier model, and this is great inspiration! Obtaining both the right-hand drive and the 3.5 in one go seems like really good luck in these parts. The Euro light fixtures and bumpers are always enviable too! Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

20

All I can say is, "WOW!"

21

The most beautiful slammed machine I've seen for a while, if not ever! Hats off to the guy, excellent in every way. Totally bossed it!

22

Larry Chen butterballs Why? The bridge is gone now?

23

Very cool car. And the engine was a inline 6 not a V6. That V6 is way to modern for Mercedes.

24

It's amazing how these old saloons hold up so well over time, properly preserved...

25

greenroadster its a v8, the 280se 3.5 was a 3.5 v8

27

StreetStatik greenroadster Yeah I know that the 3.5 is a V8. I was talking about the 2.8. It was a straight 6 not a V6 like Larry said.

28

Excellent shots!
Just plain love the K.I.S.S. method which was implemented on this build!

29

Those cambered rear wheels hurts my eyes...

30

That only happens when the car is low since these have a rear swing axle. Once I raise it, the camber corrects.

31

Hydrolastic Look at the gear indicator, that's also reversed.

32

Wow this car is awesome. I'm not a super big fan of the older Benzes but this is making me a believer. Very nice ride. Maybe it's the lighting but the steering wheel just looks out of place (color). A nice wooden wheel would look badass. Love those cat woman headrests too!

33

Freakin hell, what a travesty... STOP. BAGGING. EVERYTHING.

34

Not really. Look up a W109 300SEL. That was a car like mine but different model that came from the factory with air suspension. Only difference with mine is that I can adjust the ride height to my liking and can park lower.

35

rare_eg2 Listen, I get it. My grandfather was a Benz enthusiast. I know about that car you mentioned too. I've just seen and dealt with too many cars with busted factory air/hydraulic suspensions (looking at you Audi Allroad, et al.). So that's all I can think of when I see a slammed classic anything: broken, awkward, undignified. IMHO. Otherwise sweet ride!

36

Buick Man Thank you! And it could be the lighting but this is the original Mercedes ivory steering wheel for this car and in person looks very close to the same color as the interior.

37

My dad have one very similar to this except its green and inline 6. Looking at this one makes me have bad bad thoughts on installing airbags without him knowing haha!

38

I like that this car looks immaculate compared to cars from this generation that are stanced, primered and bondo'd. The exterior looks as good as the interior.

Its good so cal still has drive thru's that he can approach from the right side!

39

It could be Maltese, Irish or Cypriot, as they drive on the left too.

40

greenroadster StreetStatik Yup, first Merc V6 came in the mid 90's

41

I have a W108 that I am trying to do a similar thing with in the UK. Any words of advice or things to avoid?

42

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