Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 on the block

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

1972 luxo Benz was way ahead of its time

Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 on the block
The 280SE 3.5 was an expensive car in its day and looks like good value now.

If you'd somehow managed to scrape up the eye-watering cost of one of these things when they were new, you would have been driving something very special.

Over the years, this variant of the W108 and long wheelbase W109 series has become regarded as the roots of the S-class and something of a design classic. The lines may not be spectacular, but seem to have lasted well. Part of its appeal is the mix of imposing radiator grille with clean and simple lines for the body.

The shape was penned by Paul Bracq, who also did the Pagoda-roof SL Benzes and BMW's iconic E24 Six-series.

For marque enthusiasts, there are a number of V8 variants of this shape, including the giant 6.3 in the W109 300SEL and the USA-market 4.5. The 3.5 however was the ultimate expression of the W108 for many, with a nice balance of engine and four-speed auto transmission (designed by Benz) with a fluid coupling.

The 3.5 engine (the M116) claimed 200 horses and was expanded to 3.8 and then 4.2 litres for subsequent generation cars.

This example started life as a locally-delivered car and has a leather interior plus factory sunroof. The auctioneer says it's in very good condition and estimates it will sell for $22-30k, which seems like a lot of classic car for the money.

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