In the late 1950s, the elegant 300S and 300SC sat at the top of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. But these largely hand-built cars were very expensive to produce, and their body-on-frame construction made them feel a bit old-fashioned on the road. For the turn of the next decade, Mercedes-Benz made an effort to modernize their offerings and reduce production costs. The new W111 range of four-door sedans and two-door coupes were built using unibody construction on a shared common platform. This new car was significantly cheaper to build yet still maintained Mercedes’ famous quality and bank-vault feel on the road.
The first W111 sedans wore styling that was heavily influenced by the American market. The “heckflosse”, or “fintail” had pronounced tail fins and an upright, American sedan appearance. The coupe, however, shared little of the sedan’s styling and was more understatedly elegant with a distinct roofline highlighted by deeply curved rear glass. The coupe was so successful in appearance that it outlived the sedan by several years, eventually lending its styling cues to the Heckflosse replacement. Range-topping models were initially powered by the classic, 3.0 liter Mercedes inline six, fitted with proven and reliable Bosch mechanical fuel injection. But some customers wanted more power and exclusivity, so in August of 1969 the all-new, alloy M116 V8 engine was fitted to the 280SE coupe – along with a host of luxury options and equipment - to become the 280SE 3.5. The 200 horsepower 3.5 liter V8 breathed new life in to the W111, transforming the luxurious coupe into one of the finest four-seat GT cars ever produced. Today’s enthusiasts relish in the unrivalled quality and presence of these magnificent luxury cars.
This wonderful and elegant 1970 280SE 3.5 coupe is a very fine example that has been lovingly cared for by two long-term owners. This car was originally ordered by a Mercedes-Benz executive in Germany. Surely taking advantage of an opportunity to drive a top-spec company car, he special-ordered his with just about every bit of equipment one could get on a European spec car. Ticking every box he could, the car was equipped with a sunroof, Hella fog lamps, electric windows, floor shift, air-conditioning and a Becker stereo, all of which remain with the car to this day. According to records, he drove the car through the 1970s, when in 1979 it was sold and exported to Japan. The Japanese owner was also connected with Mercedes-Benz and he fastidiously maintained the car using only Mercedes-Benz authorized agents in Japan. From there, it remained in his family until it was only recently brought to the United States, making this a very low ownership, and exceptionally original automobile. Even today, the maintenance items under the hood are genuine, NOS factory Mercedes parts, with no sign of aftermarket components. A large 3-ring binder of receipts and records, though most are in Japanese, shows that this was clearly a cherished automobile.
The silver-gray metallic paintwork (Code DB180) is correct to this car, and it presents in great condition. Panels are straight and clean with excellent reflections and consistent gaps. These were largely hand-assembled automobiles, and that original level of quality is still very apparent on this example. The beautiful leather interior is in remarkable condition, original and un-restored and presenting beautifully with no rips tears or excessive wear. The only restoration work carried out in the cabin is the wood which was recently refurbished to gorgeous standards.
As stated earlier, the engine bay is very clean and tidy. It has never been restored but rather, expertly maintained to a very high level. Extras include the aforementioned service history, a fitted car cover, correct spare wheel and a rare, 280SE-specific jack in the trunk. This is a unique opportunity to acquire a largely original 280SE 3.5 in such honest and appealing condition. It is fully serviced and ready for the road. Anyone familiar with the W111 coupe knows that they are among the best cars of the era for long-distance cruising. Even cars 20 or more years its junior will be hard-pressed to match the 280SE 3.5 for its quality, performance and unrivaled style.
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