A couple of weeks ago I found a Mercedes-Benz w123 trunk lid half-buried in a field next to a shed that has been abandoned for decades. I pulled it out and noticed that it was in okay shape (it wasn’t bent, or even dented) and that both emblems were still attached to it. I immediately decided to take it home with me – an advantage that comes with driving a van – and told myself I’d figure out what to do with it later on.
For the past couple of months I have been renovating a house, which explains the stunning irregularity of our Sunday classic series and the aforementioned van, and I realized the lid would make an awesome desk: It’s relatively big, it’s more or less flat and it doesn’t have any odd creases, making it a perfect work surface. A w126 trunk lid would have been even better; a Beetle deck lid would have been a nightmare.
With very little prior experience in building furniture I started assembling the desk last night. Here is a step-by-step set of instructions.
Materials you will need
There are likely several ways to do this but here are the materials and tools that I used:
- 5 x 60-size screws. There’s no straight conversion to U.S. units, but anything over two inches long will do.
- Washers – lots and lots of washers.
- A Phillips screwdriver.
- A drill with a bit that’s the same size as the screws – we used a 5mm.
- A saw.
- A tape measure.
- A level.
- A piece of plywood that’s at least 54 centimeters (21.2 inches) wide and 130 centimeters (51 inches) long.
- Four table feet, readily available for cheap at Ikea or similar retailers.
When I was planning this out in my head I wanted to make no alterations whatsoever to the trunk lid. That means no drilling through it, no welding anything onto it and no cutting it – if I ever need to install it on a car, I can take it all apart and it will bolt right on. With that in mind, I slid bolts and washers through four located on all four corners and fastened each one down with a washer and a nut.
Cut the plywood to the dimensions mentioned above and gently set it down on the bolts sticking out of the trunk lid. Make sure that there is the same amount of space on each side and trace where the wood comes in contact with the bolts. Drill the holes out carefully, plywood has a terrible tendency to break.
Put a washer on each nut, drop the piece of plywood onto the lid and use another washer and another nut to fasten it down. With the level, make sure the wood is perfectly straight and adjust with washers if it is not.
I purchased the feet at Ikea for €2,50 a piece. It doesn’t matter where you get them or how much you pay for them, but for what it’s worth these can be removed from their holding plate, and they’re adjustable. Also, they’re about the cheapest ones I found.
Turn the lid around and trace where you want the feet to go – make sure that they are not too close to the edges in order to avoid breaking the plywood, and use a tape measure to check that they are all the same distance from the corners.
I ran into issues because the screws included with the feet were much longer than the plywood so I used smaller drywall screws and lots of washers from my Citroën GSA parts car. You can do that, or you can plan ahead and use smaller screws / a thicker piece of plywood.
Turn the desk around and have a beer!
I had a bit of an advantage because I didn’t pay for the trunk lid and I had the piece of plywood in my shed. Still, even if you buy plywood from Home Depot and a trunk lid from Pick N Pull this project can be done for under $50.
From start to finish, building the trunk lid took almost three hours because of the numerous trial and errors involved. I could probably make a second one in half of that time. Is it perfect? No, the Mercedes emblem needs to be straightened and the lid is not in great shape, but I am quite satisfied with it.
Send a photo if you make something similar!