Not every project car needs to be a top-shelf Ridler contender. As we get older, sometimes we just want something to cruise around town in and to take the long hauls to car shows near and far. Something we can pile our families in and not worry about spilling cheerios on the completely custom interior or getting the $100,000 paint job scratched in the mall parking lot. Enter, Jon Hansen’s 1979 Mercedes W123 Diesel. We caught up to Jon as something about this super clean ‘Benz just strikes us as a unique stand for keeping things simple.

Mercedes-09Mercedes-11 Photos: Grant Cox Photography | Words: Jon Hansen

Rather than reimagine the tale of how this build came to be, we’ll just let Hansen share his tale of this Mercedes build with you in his own words:

“Out of every project car I have built to date, my 1979 Mercedes 240 D is by far my favorite. Many people do not understand it or understand why, but I think the biggest reason is because I built it for myself. Not for internet fame, not for scene points, not to go crazy with the mods, it is a 100% personal reflection of self, not looking to current trends or builds for ideas, not asking for the opinions of others on how it should be done.

Many German car people will tell you the W123 chassis is not even the desired Mercedes platform to pick when going for lowering of any type; and I will be honest here. It is not a well set up body to be kind as you take it down towards the ground. However, 4.5 static inches later, there she sits, with almost 300k miles on the speedometer, my trusty steed. Less than a side ways iphone off the ground underneath, with a lovely 40-degree turn radius. Fully worth it, but ask any car friend or person who has seen my build out at shows; and they will tell you that it takes about 5 turns to park anywhere that is not an open area. But hey, there’s always a little sacrifice for living the low life, right?”


“From fully restoring the seats in the interior from a rotted out and torn horse hair to a new memory foam filled flawless covered stock appearing set in front and rear; I went ahead and added fold down tray tables from an old model Jaguar to the backs of each front seat, as well as a subtle VIP table in the center. Full disclosure, I wanted a solid cup-holder more than I cared about how VIP tables look, but keep it classy you know? I two-toned the roof with the help of a friend using a heavy House of Kolor flake to set the top apart with a very subtle custom touch. Next we straight-piped the exhaust, custom-built a wood floor for the trunk to match the interior all throughout, flat blacked the engine bay, then added pinstriping to match the interior on everything from the engine covers to the roof pillars to the VIP table; and so many other details that German car people will see and appreciate the more they look.”


“In a car world full of wide-bodies, fender flares, deep dish multi-piece wheels, and over the top everything; I just wanted to do something clean and understated to remind not only myself, but others who see it that great builds are not made by competing and trying to one up everyone. The best builds you see are usually ones made by people who are not looking towards others for what they should do next.

This point was really driven to heart for me when I drove from Wichita, Kansas to Houston, Texas (about 11.5 hours for anyone who is counting) to participate in what has become my favorite show in the states, Wekfest. As if being selected to be in the 346 cars out of more than 1,400 that applied to be in the show, I also took home an award in the Best Euro category. The other two cars who placed in my category (as well as pretty much every car in that category who did not place) had wheels alone that cost more than almost my entire build. Needless to say, it was a very humbling moment to have this much hard-work be acknowledged by people who see the best cars in the country on every coast all year long.”


“All in all, even without awards or features or all the cool stuff that comes along with unique builds; there is no better feeling than being out on the highway cruising the car. Windows down, white walls spining, dash dog bobbing his head to the sounds of the road. Cars are meant to be built, driven, and enjoyed – and I could not ask for meeting any better people than I have along my journey so far with this build.”

We can all take a page from Jon’s book and learn to enjoy our builds, our friends, and get out and drive our cars! Thanks for sharing your “simple” yet unique build with us and our Slam’d Mag readers, we’re definitely looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Slam’d Specs

Owner: Jon Hansen
Vehicle: 1979 Mercedes 240 D
Hometown: Wichita KS
Club: Prestige Society

Paint matched 15×6 Mercedes wheels with pinner whitewalls
Brakes: w123 disc brakes all around

Front: Custom 5-inch dropped spring suspension
Rear: Custom 4.5-inch dropped spring suspension
Switched to shortened gas shocks
Performed by: Adam Brickman, Tim Pile, and Jon Hansen

Custom two-toned roof
Fully flat blacked engine bay
Interior color matching pinstriping on roof as well as engine bay
Color matched lower body rails
Original paint on body fully restored by owner
Performed by: Roof by Gage Sanchez & Family, pinstripes by Harry Ozburn

Custom redone and repaired seats, switched rotted horse hair to custom memory foam sculpted for the Mercedes
Added 1960s jaguar fold down seat trays to backs of front seats
VIP table with matching pinstriping
Bobble head dash dog named Chico
1979 playboy magazine to match the car production date
Performed By: Adam Brickman and owner

Original inline 4-cylinder diesel with almost 300k miles and still going strong
Flat black entire bay and all reservoirs, pinstriped as well
Removed a few unneeded components and detailed engine bay
Straight piped 2.5-inch exhaust all the way back

Special Thanks From Owner:
“The awesome crew at Slam’d Mag for the opportunity, Grant Cox for the killer photos, all of my Prestige Society fam, The Sanchez Paint shop, Aaron and Tara Evans, my dad (you’re the best), John Ludwick Jr and The Governor’s Club for showing the ‘scene’ it is not about being ‘scene,’ and to every person I have met because of this build or at shows; much love to all you cool cats.”

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