By the end of the 1960’s, with BMW rising as a sports-luxury contender, Mercedes-Benz had answered the demand of the automotive press and the general public for a more muscular powerplant in its top-of-the-line saloons. The result was the brand’s first dynasty of V8 engines, ranging from an adequate 3.5L to a formidable 6.3L inherited from the prestigious 600 limousine.
While the W111 “Heckflosse” series, a child of the 1950’s with some undoubted American influence —tailfins, curved windshield—, was gradually being replaced by the more modern W108 and W109 saloons, the W111 coupes and cabriolets were left as standalone models until 1971. In addition to the many stylistic and technical refinements present in the Mercedes-Benz lineup of the time, these cars benefited from one of the new V8 powerplants, the M116 —a fuel-injected 3.5L V8. Performance figures were vastly improved: 0 to 100kph in less than ten seconds, and a top speed of over 200kph. By the time of their retirement in 1971, only 3,270 280SE 3.5 coupes and 1,232 cabriolets had left the assembly lines.
A staple of the Hollywood stars of the 1960’s and 70’s, the 280SE 3.5 coupe combines elegant lines with a stately presence, and this car in no exception. The VIN number displays its genuine ‘026′ designation for the 3.5 V8, low-grille model. Delivered new in Berlin (Germany), this car has spent most of its life in Japan, where it has been treated to a thorough interior and exterior refurbishment, including all wood and chrome. Additionally, the car is equipped with the desirable floor shifter and sunroof options, two favorites amongst Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts.
Finished in a tasteful shade of metallic brown over a grey interior, this 280SE can double as a family heirloom and as an impressive, highly usable daily driver with the modern comforts of power steering, electric windows, and air conditioning.
Note: this car’s gearbox is currently being rebuilt at Sun Valley Mercedes Transmissions, renowned specialist in California. The car is estimated to be operational again by April/May 2021.