Project Car Hell: '72 450SEL or '69 Corona?

Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell: 72 450SEL or 69 Corona?

As we all saw yesterday, a Wankelated Hillman Minx stomps Grandma's '71 Ford LTD in the Project Car Hell competition, with close to a 75/25 pro- (or anti-, depending on how you define the term "Project Car Hell") Minx split in the voting. Today's PCH contestants should be a bit more evenly matched in the Hell department, as we go for a couple of Axis Specials...


From Team Japan, we have this 1969 Toyota Corona. Here's a car dear to my own heart; my Very First Car- purchased for $50 at the age of 15- was a beige '69 Corona 4-door (in fact, this could be that very car!). I can say from experience that the early Corona is slow, ugly, and handles like a refrigerator on a handtruck with bad wheel bearings, but it's got heavy-duty character; in fact, there's more character in this single car than in every single vehicle in Toyota's entire 1988-2007 lineups combined. This one's "NOT RUNING" (sic), but that doesn't mean a whole lot, given that variations on its R engine were manufactured well into the 90s. Interior and body parts might be harder, but they're certainly obtainable. If you've got $950, the car is yours.

But say you want something a bit sportier, or at least a bit more technologically advanced? Der Vaterland has produced this fine 1972 Mercedes 450SEL with you in mind! (Thanks to Will for the tip). It's been parked for two years, which means that the Southern California sun/smog combo has destroyed any surviving rubber on the car, but it does run. Sorta. Whaddya want for 800 bucks? It's a pretty straight Mercedes, buddy!


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We don't know for sure that this Corona isn't one of the OHC models. I think you could fit an 18RG engine in there to add a fair amount of goosepower without overstressing the chassis, and still keeping it looking pretty stock.

The Benz looks cosmetically pretty good. Here in the Bible Belt we're all about salting the roads if anyone even whispers the word "snow," so a body as nice as that is tough to find.

Toss-up. I'm not voting either way, I'd love to try both of them.