In 1968, the ‘New Generation’ of upscale Mercedes-Benz S-Class models débuted. These carefully refined five-passenger automobiles continued a tradition of handcrafted quality and superior engineering, while their formal styling remains a design benchmark. The coupe was designed with ‘practical sportiness’ in mind while its chassis featured advanced design and structural reinforcements, providing immense rigidity and safety.
Introduced in 1970, the Mercedes 280SE 3.5 coupe was identical to the standard 280SE coupe, with the exception of the engine. In place of the modest, standard issue inline six-cylinder engine, customers enjoyed spirited performance from an all-new 3.5-liter V-8 that offered more than a 25 percent increase in power.
Referred to as the ‘engine of tomorrow’ by Mercedes, the company threw much of its technical prowess into making the engine both smooth and powerful. With an over-square combustion chamber, aluminum alloy cylinder heads, a cast iron block, and featuring Bosch electronic fuel injection, as well as transistorized ignition, power output was a healthy 230 horsepower. This helped propel the 280SE 3.5 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds.
The comprehensive list of amenities available included power steering, power brakes, a stereo, a radio, air conditioning, electric windows, and an automatic transmission. Further luxuries aimed at pleasing up to five passengers included a genuine leather interior and beautifully polished wood trim. Only 4,502 of these cars, in both coupé and cabriolet form, were sold between 1969 and 1971. A part from the Mercedes top-of-the-line 600 series, this car was the flagship model in the line-up.
This accurately restored 1971 280SE 3.5 liter coupe was sold new in Santa Monica, California, and lived there until 2002 when it was purchased by a collector from Kansas. In his stewardship, the car was restored, including a complete rebuild of its original matching number engine and transmission in 2012. The car has been beautifully finished in its original color combination of 906G grey blue metallic with a fabulous original black leather interior. The leather seats, fabulous zebra wood, door panels and headliner are in excellent condition showing hardly any signs of wear. A desirable floor shift model, it is also equipped with its correct Becker Europa radio and Behr air conditioning. The fit and finish of the body panels is excellent and the body lines are crisp and clear. The chrome and stainless trim items are excellent. Under the hood, the engine bay is very well detailed. Inside and out, this is really a great example that is ready to drive and enjoy. Included with the car are restoration receipts and the original owner’s manual, service booklet with stamps, and chassis book in the original pouch. Mechanically the car is excellent, fully sorted and ready to enjoy.
These were the last of the hand built Mercedes, and this fabulous example has been well maintained throughout its life and careful inspection reveals that it has always been a well-cared for and solid vehicle prior to its restoration, a testament to that original build quality. Many astute collectors feel that 280SE 3.5 coupes are among the best looking and most collectible cars of the era. These extremely comfortable tourers offer their owners the optimum amount of performance and comfort and are considered highly usable classics.
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