CC Outtakes: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 280SE – Things To Discover In A Little Jungle

One thing about living in the tropics: gardens need constant care or they’ll turn into little jungles. After all, the terrain in Central America was mostly jungle when the Spaniards arrived and built their cities. Their inhabitants like to think of them as ‘modern cities,’ but below the asphalt and concrete, a dormant jungle lies.

Leave anything long enough in those little jungles, and they’ll soon become part of it. Just like this late ’70s Mercedes 280SE. It’s the kind of thing that occurs in this surreal land that is Central America; walk into the overgrown garden of some relatives and an old Mercedes appears. First, doubts in the mind: Am I seeing right? Then acceptance and questions: How did this thing get in here?

In all honesty, I’ve no idea if this is really a ’78 or not. But it’s somewhat close. And while no one at the house had the details on the car’s provenance (?), I do have a picture made out in my head. As I explained in a few previous posts, we have a thriving gray market of used US imports in El Salvador. While most are run-of-the-mill sedans and SUVs, a few oddball models make it too; the occasional 928, or BMW 8 series, or a late ’70s 280SE. All sold for ‘cheap’ to a few enthusiastic buyers who have no idea of the ‘curse’ of the used luxury car; high-maintenance costs.

The fate of luxury cars that reached the bottom is rather fascinating to me. Give it enough time, luxury rides end up preserved in pristine condition or junked by the wayside. There’s little in between, or so anecdotal evidence makes me believe.

Let’s take a look inside, shall we? Many creatures live in the tropics, from snakes to scorpions, to fingernail-size ants and large beetles. I can go on. We only took a quick peek with my wife and it looked like everything had already made nest inside. On the other hand, whatever creatures reside in this Mercedes do so surrounded by true German luxury. They must be the talk of the town. Or the garden, more precisely.

The more we looked around the car, the more questions kept piling up. Whoever was the previous owner didn’t have the means to keep the car in shape, but did have the local instinct for curious customizing. I’ve absolutely no idea about the reasons for the Salvadorian-Spanish flags. Your guess is as good as mine.

For a moment I wondered if I should pay a gardener’s service for these relatives; to make their garden tidy, and clear the car’s view. Then, on second thought, I figured the Mercedes works better now as part of that miniature jungle. It won’t ever shine with the luster it once did, and in the end, better for nature to just take its course.


(Today’s photos are courtesy of my wife and brocito).