Someone Please Save MC Hammer’s V8-Swapped 1975 Mercedes-Benz 280S
You *can* touch this, and for reasonably cheap, too.
Turning on the radio in the early '90s without hearing MC Hammer was nearly impossible. In the era of parachute pants and shiny gold necklaces, Hammer was king. He was also a car buff, which is why we're able to share with you a one-of-a-kind project formerly owned by the MC himself.
Recently, a 1975 Mercedes-Benz 280S popped up for sale on Craigslist with a bold proclamation in the title: the car once belonged to MC Hammer. While any celebrity-owned car is a cool bragging right, the particularly interesting part about this vehicle is what's sitting under the hood.
As the photos show, Hammer had the factory 2.8-liter inline-six swapped out in favor of a much more stout German V8. But this wasn't just any eight-cylinder engine—it was the naturally aspirated 6.9-liter found in Mercedes' aptly-named flagship sedan, the 450 SEL 6.9.
The 6.9-liter was the crown jewel of Mercedes' W116 S-class lineup when the 280S was on showroom floors. During its four years of production, the German luxury brand hand-built 7,380 examples on the Daimler-Benz assembly line in Stuttgart and shipped around the world. And, of course, top-of-the-line meant a price to match. When introduced in 1975, the sedan cost a whopping $38,230. Account for inflation and you'll get $184,214, or the equivalent of a brand-new Maybach. To put this into perspective, NADA lists the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow having a base sticker price of $38,750 at the same time.
Keep in mind that we're talking about a project that likely began after Hammer's career took off a decade later, so the 6.9 was well into its depreciation curve. Swapping in the V8 would more than double the 280S power output, from 141 to 286 horsepower, but it still seems like a shame to forego the extended wheelbase and other high-dollar amenities just to put the V8 into a base-model S-class. Perhaps he was trying to create a more luxurious version of the AMG Mercedes with a very similar name?
From what we can tell, Hammer owned the car for quite some time. The car's glovebox was a treasure trove of documentation, containing service records with Hammer's birth name (Stanley Kirk Burrell) dated back to 1987, three years before U Can't Touch This was running through the airwaves of FM radio. The 1992-stamped California registration with matching license plate sticker means that Hammer had the car for quite some time instead of just selling it when the next best thing came along—it's also an indication of a project which has sat on the back burner for far too long.
If you're wondering how the car ended up here, we have a pretty good idea.
In 1990, Hammer quickly earned himself a reputation and minted a fortune worth upwards of $70 million over the next few years. Of course, this new wealth meant that he had the opportunity to toe the finest waters and own the world's best cars, which he did. Reportedly, Hammer filled his new mansion's 17-car garage with luxury and high-dollar offerings including vehicles by Ferrari and Hummer. This, combined with his half-million-dollar-per-month entourage of 40 people, quickly drained his bank account. By 1996, Hammer had declared bankruptcy.
Supposedly, Hammer specifically purchased a 1975 model to avoid California SMOG regulations.
The car's current owner told The Drive that he purchased the vehicle from a private shop that serviced Hammer's cars. The shop had taken possession of the car with the intention of performing the swap for Hammer's wife. He reportedly purchased a crate engine directly from Mercedes-Benz and the shop was in the middle of finishing the wiring when the entertainer filed for bankruptcy.
Sight unseen, $2,400 for a flagship-swapped classic S-Class project seems like a screaming deal for someone who is looking to turn a wrench and finish what a celebrity started. Let it be known, though, that the new owner will have to file for an abandoned title.
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