1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE with 80k Original Miles

Survivor is a term bandied about in the automotive enthusiast communities but it’s not always the case that a car will live up to the hype. Head west to California, however, and the state offers a treasure trove of all sorts of classic iron, from muscle cars to classic luxury, such as this one-owner 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE with 80,000 original miles. It’s rather remarkable that a car over 40 years old hasn’t cracked six figures in the mileage department yet, as you could consider my mom’s 2000 C280 sedan with 115,000 miles as a little on the low side for the year. But this car, sold via the European Delivery program and having lived its life in California, has escaped the ravages of the years.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on eBay

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1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe 4-speed manual

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At the outset of the 1970s, the Mercedes-Benz model range was about to have an overhaul, with a new SL roadster and S class on the way. Meanwhile, the W111 coupes and convertibles would get one last refresh in the form of the 3.5 liter, M116 engine. This small displacement V8 would live on until the early 1990s in later 3.8 and 4.2 guise. While these M116 engined 280SE Coupes are rare, add in the manual gearbox and you have a car that is extremely exclusive. Some estimate that just over 100 were produced. This example was imported to the US via Italy in the 1980s and has covered just under 50,000 miles.

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1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

Having grown up with Mercedes-Benzes in the family, I think that experience is part of the reason why I am sometimes a bit dismayed at the current crop of cars to wear the Three Pointed Star. There’s no doubting that Mercedes-Benz is still at the forefront when it comes to automotive technology and safety, but in terms of design, I feel as if a bit of tradition has been lost in the styling language. Perhaps that exposes my propensity for nostalgia that goes hand in hand with being Portuguese, but the days of predictable design evolution under designers such as Paul Bracq and Bruno Sacco have been usurped by a decidedly progressive attitude.

Time marches on though, but in light of that, I look at cars like this 1969 280SE with admiration. Sure, they are a bit staid looking, but underneath they were rather technically advanced. Compared to new cars they might seem rather simple, but there are few classics like this out there that you could conceivably use daily.


Year: 1969
Model: 280SE
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 74,614 mi
Price: $7,950 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on eBay

1969 Mercedes Benz 280SE Sedan
Arabian Grey (DB124) with Light Red Leather
S/N: 108018-12-033449
74,614 Miles
Highly Original
One family owned since new (father & son)
Asking $7,950

Purchased new in August, 1969 in Wilmington DE by a chemist at DuPont.
In 1994, his son became the owner and remains the owner to this day.
Automatic transmission.
Becker Europa MU radio.
No air conditioning or sunroof.
Car is original except for repaint in original Arabian Grey the late 1990’s.
Serviced annually.
Passed Pennsylvania safety inspection about 100 miles ago.
Michelin radial tires.
All books including service manual stamped for dealer service from 1969 to 1986.
Original factory data card and metal warranty imprint card.
Kangol seat belts.
If you have a serious interest in purchasing this Mercedes, please contact me through the eBay “Ask the seller a question” function.

Selecting the buy-it-now price option is a binding contract and is not an “option” to buy.
Pre-purchase inspections are welcome and must be completed prior to executing the Buy-it-now option. Please feel free to ask me any questions via the ask the seller questions feature.
The car is sold as-is, where-is, with all faults. No warranties are expressed or implied.
The car is located in Wayne, PA, approximately 15 miles from center city Philadelphia. The private party owner has a clear PA title. You will be buying the car directly from the private party owner.
The car can be seen by appointment.
The car is available for sale locally and I reserve the right to end the eBay advertisement at any time.
The winning bidder shall send a deposit of 10% of the selling price by wire transfer or cashier’s check within 48 hours of the end of the auction, and pay the balance in full within 7 days of the end of the auction.
I can assist you in locating a professional transporter.


Family owned Mercedes like this don’t surprise me. My mother has driven her 2000 C280 now for almost 13 years and has no plans of getting rid of it anytime soon. Older Mercedes seemed to always become a part of the family in our household; you have a hard time parting with them. This 280SE has a nice patina indicative of a car like that, with one respray and leather that looks worn but not abused. With the 2.8 liter inline six and automatic transmission combination, the 280SE isn’t terribly quick, but there is adequate power to keep up with traffic. Considering what you pay for the 6.3 and Cabriolet variants of this generation S class, these fuel-injected six cylinder sedans are a bargain by comparison, as seen from this particular example.


1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe


Many enthusiasts still lament the passing of the Mercedes-Benzes from the 1980s and 1990s, as these cars are put on a pedestal as a monument to the last vehicles from this company engineered to a point, not a price. Mercedes has made strides to recapture the magic of their old tagline “engineered like no other car in the world,” but it will never quite be the same. As they say, time marches on. If you ask me, however, Mercedes reached their watershed moment with this very car, the 280SE 3.5.

Available in either coupe or cabriolet form, these were truly the last hand-built Mercedes to leave the factory. Copious amounts of leather and wood line the cabin, while fit and finish, right down to the elegant, upright grille is exemplary. Old world craftsmanship allowed these cars to stand apart from the competition, but underneath they sported a new heart: the M116 3.5 liter V8. Available with either a 4-speed automatic or 4-speed manual, this fuel injected engine gave this car modern day performance that belied its classic looks. In the last few years, values have been strong for this model, particularly the cabriolet version. This coupe for sale in Southern California had a repaint about ten years ago and its chrome tended to at the same time. This example looks positively stunning in navy blue over parchment.

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Year: 1971
Model: 280SE 3.5 Coupe
Engine: 3.5 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 90,442 mi
Price: Reserve auction

Click for more details: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe on eBay

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Offered for sale is an absolutely gorgeous 1971 Mercedes 280SE 3.5 Coupe with all of the desirable options: sunroof, floor-shift transmission, air conditioning and power windows. Finished in Navy Blue over Parchment leather with Navy carpeting, it’s hard to imagine a more tasteful example of Mercedes’ “Heckflosse” (fin-tail) coupe, the color combination complimenting the enduringly elegant, yet masculine design perfectly. Always a Southern California car, this example has been lovingly maintained and cared for, most recently in a sizable collection in San Diego. Roughly ten years ago the prior owner commissioned a high quality repaint and had everything re-chromed and consequently the car is truly nice as it appears in the photographs.

The paint is excellent, a rich and lustrous finish that shows only the most insignificant of imperfections. All of the car’s chrome is fantastic, as is the rubber and all of the original glass. Panel fits and gaps are excellent and the car shows no evidence of any accidents. Always garaged and cared for, the car’s undercarriage and body are both rust-free. The car’s original wheels with color-matched hubs are wrapped in brand new white wall tires.

The car’s Parchment leather interior is in great original condition and it perfectly offsets the Navy exterior. The seats show minimal and only typical wear, the carpets are in excellent condition and the headliner shows hardly any wear at all. The wood dash inserts are free of cracking or splitting and the dash houses fully functional gauges. The sunroof, power windows, heat, air conditioning original Becker radio work as they should.

Mechanically the car is in excellent condition, starting easily, idling consistently and pulling strongly and smoothly through each of the gears. It drives and brakes straight and requires nothing but a new owner. Whether tooling through town or cruising down the highway, the car is an absolute joy to drive – modern enough to be comfortably enjoyed but also visceral enough to provide that great vintage drive quality. Whether its next owner will be a weekend enthusiast or whether the car will be a worthy and appreciating addition to any serious collection, this 3.5 Coupe is undoubtedly going to provide another 42 years of “pride of ownership” for its next owner.

We want this car to go to great home and would be happy to further discuss it and answer any questions, so please feel free to email us or call us at 805-202-4557. You can also visit us online at GoodmanReed.

We’ve always had an appreciation for classic European cars and over the years have created an eclectic personal collection. We only buy cars that we’d personally be interested in owning and generally only sell them to make room for other acquisitions. That time has come for this Mercedes (if the price is right, of course – this isn’t a fire sale). We try to give accurate descriptions of the cars we’re selling, but we’re enthusiasts, not experts, and we encourage and are happy to help facilitate personal or professional inspections. But please do so before bidding, as the alternative harms our ability to make sales to other interested parties who have done their proper due diligence before bidding.

For U.S. buyers a 10% non-refundable deposit is required within 3 days of the auction’s end, the balance to be paid within 7 days of the auction’s end. Foreign buyers must pay in full within 7 business days of the auction’s end. Buyer is responsible for shipping, however we’d be more that happy to help with recommendations and arrangements. The car is listed locally and we reserve the right to end the auction at any time should it sell prior to auction’s end. Thanks for your interest.

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This is one of those coupes that brings to mind the term “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Fitting, then, that automotive journalists of the day exalted this car’s future classic status when it was new, as it would be succeeded in the Mercedes lineup by the smaller, sportier R107 based SLC coupe. Prices for the 3.5 Cabriolet have hit the stratosphere, bringing upwards of $200,000 at auction in some cases for the very best vehicles. The coupes can be had for less money, but they still command a presence on the collector car scene. A very well fettled car like this should bring somewhere between $50,000 and $65,000. Cars that are a little more rough around the edges but in good driving condition can be had for a little less, usually around the $35,000 to $45,000 mark.


1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe with 4-speed Manual

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Mercedes-Benz was in a period of transition at the outset of the 1970s. A new SL would be launched in 1971, replacing the popular Pagoda roof 230/250/280SL range. The new R107 SL would move the car further in the direction of a boulevard cruiser rather than a sports car. The large W112 coupes and convertibles were also on their way out, but not before the engineers at Mercedes had one last go at making these special cars into something even more special. Arriving in 1969, the new 3.5 liter, single overhead cam V8 engine was slotted into these stately cars, giving them a new lease on life. These were largely hand-built machines that were seriously expensive in their day, and to this day, still command big dollars.

Amidst the short production run from 1969 through 1971, a few 280SE 3.5 Coupes left the factory optioned with a 4-speed manual transmission. Seemingly out of step with the rest of the car’s character, this was nevertheless a popular option for those German businessmen who would pony up cash for such a car and were looking for something with long legs for Autobahn cruising. This 280SE 3.5 for sale in California is one such coupe with the 4-speed manual.

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Year: 1971
Model: 280SE 3.5 Coupe
Engine: 3.5 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 51,325 mi
Price: $65,000 Buy It Now

Click for Details: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe on eBay

We are honored to be able to present to you this very rare European-Spec 1971 280SE 3.5 Coupe with only 51,311 original miles. These Grand Touring coupes are not only beautiful, but thanks to the 3.5L V8, it eats up miles effortlessly. This particular Mercedes features 2 options: An incredibly rare 4-speed manual transmission (thank you Europe!), believed to be 1 of only 122 built with this option, and also Sunroof Delete. It presents itself in excellent overall condition, with the red leather interior being original (never dyed), and in remarkable shape considering these are the hides that it left the factory with in 1971. The body was repainted (engine out) in its original White color in 2008. It also had a original style air-conditioning system installed by the dealer when delivered new in Italy. Even though the Interior is 100% original, the leather as soft/supple as when new, having never been dyed! The fact that this car was also shown at the 2009 Hillsborough Concours d’ Elegance in Nothern California is further testament to its overall condition!

51,325 ORIGINAL Miles
30+ Years of continuous California ownership
Euro Spec Car that was Originally Delivered New to Italy
Documentation/Service Records From 1983
Major Service (approx. $5,430) Completed in November of 2012
Alpine White over (original) Red Leather Interior
Wood Dash Accents Re-Finished to As-New Condition
3.5L V8 Engine
Hella H4 Sealed Beam Headlamps
Original Becker AM/FM Radio
Original VDO Kienzle Dash Clock
New 14″ Michelin Harmony Tires
Don’t miss your opportunity to own this magnificent and very unique & ultra-rare Grand Touring Mercedes-Benz that is sure to not only please you, but the crowds wherever you go.

Please contact Cardiff Classics in North County San Diego at (760) 632-5555 with further questions.

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At first, the price for this 280SE 3.5 might seem a bit steep, but keep in mind that the open roofed variants regularly bring six figure sums and if you have a concours quality coupe, you might see the better side of $75k. I’d say this one is priced within reason, given its condition and rare transmission option. While I’ve driven some Mercedes sedans of this vintage, I’ve never gotten behind the wheel of a 3.5. With precision build quality, a 4-speed gearbox and a V8, I’m certain that it would not disappoint.


1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe

In comparison to what BMW was doing at the time when it came to personal luxury, Mercedes-Benz had a different idea for the early 1970s. The W111 was no stranger to the motoring scene, but at the close of the 1960s, Mercedes went ahead and equipped the mainstay 280SE coupes and cabriolets with the new M116 3.5 liter V8. This engine equipped the car with 200 horsepower, a 130 mph top speed and the capability to run to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. Only 3,270 of these coupes were built. Most were equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission but a few emerged from the factory with a 4-speed manual. This 280SE 3.5 for sale in Pennsylvania had a respray from white to black along the line somewhere and is edging close to 100,000 original miles.

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe on Jameslist

“If you feel obligated to ask about the price you not only will never understand the car, you have branded yourself incapable of ever appreciating its virtues even if someone gave you one.” Car & Driver Magazine 1970.

The bluntness of opinion on behalf of Car and Driver is no surprise to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of owning or even driving one of Mercedes’ all time greats. As the last of the hand built cars rolled off the line in July of 1971, it was evident that there was a huge leap forward during these last few golden years. That the 280SE 3.5 cars were the future for Mercedes-Benz, and the rest of the auto industry, in many ways. Even in its day nothing compared to the quality, performance, and of course price. The 280SE 3.5 today, in both Coupe and Convertible format offers exceptional value for money and a superb experience to which no other car of the period can compare.

The example on offer here Chassis # 111 026 12 001714 was produced in June of 1970. It was delivered new with the following options as per a copy of the original Data Card as supplied by Mercedes-Benz Heritage:

chassis number: 111 026 12 001714
engine number: 116 980 12 001328
transmission number: 000536
key code: HZ 0019
exterior color code: 050 – white
interior color code: 241 – black leather
option codes:
401 single seats
410 sliding roof
420 automatic transmission, floor-shift
461 instruments in English
491 USA version
503 outside side view mirror, left
513 Becker radio
524 paint coat preservation
531 automatic antenna
570 folding armrest
586 air conditioner / electric windows
598 heat insulated glass / heated rear pane
641 white wall tires
669 mode of packing VE I

While we have notated a color change from the original “050-White”, to the more desirable and complimenting current Black. We can also make it known that the job was completed extremely well, and according to the most recent owner, completed long before 1991 and probably when new or close there to. Otherwise the car shows to match the above options without fault. The 3.5 Mercedes tend to have a survival rate unlike many of the other W111 variants for the sole reason that they were so expensive when new. As such, but not always the case, many cars were purchased new by connoisseurs and “high-society” types alike. As a result they were often dealer maintained and kept within the same family. They often received much care over the years, and hardly ever became “used cars” languishing in dealer lots. From this we have noticed that when long term, low-numbered-owned examples become available they often exemplify this theory, as almost always do they show to be well cared for when in original condition.

The example on offer here is a delightful representation of a one-repaint, estimated two owner example that has been extremely well cared for. It embodies the exact patina so often desired by those seeking a car with a true original interior. In comparison, the rest of the car shows to be of the same quality throughout and mechanically well cared for all these years as well. Unfortunately our history for this example leaves us on paper around 1991; when the estimated 2nd collector owner acquired this 3.5 in 1991 with just over 78,000 original miles showing on the clock. Carefully stored, enjoyed sparingly, and serviced by the same technician until late 2012, this 3.5 now shows only 97,424 miles, for a total of approximately 19,424 miles in nearly 20 years.

Our current ownership of this fabulous example has given us the privilege, as with many cars, an enthusiast’s point of view in our testing and enjoying it to accurately communicate all of its attributes, both positive and negative.

Cosmetically the car shows overall as a very original, but one re-paint example. Taken into consideration the age of the repaint, it does show well overall, is deep, smooth, and consistent. There is however one or two minor blemishes in the way of a chip and a small dent or two. Nothing that warrants refinishing or immediate attention, but to be critical, minor blemishes such as these are present. The view down the side shows completely straight factory metal without any sign of previous body work or accidents. The doors fit perfectly with good gaps and an easy shut. The same is true for the trunk lid and the hood as well as all of the panel fitment, superb, and the way it came from the factory. The chrome overall shows well for a driver, and must be put in this category only because of the age of the original chrome present on the car. It does show some light signs of age, but again, nothing that would require any attention. All of the rubber components on the car are in excellent condition. New window seals, door seals etc… can be found throughout and are without flaws. The glass is all original apart from the windscreen which appears to be newer but correctly installed, all of which are in excellent condition. The tires show to be newer, and the rockers are clean with all rubber accent trim (unique to the 3.5) in good condition as well.

The interior is the most impressive part of this car, showing as a true original in almost every way. The only item we have taken note to not being original is that of the driver side floor mat, which is a custom replacement, close, but not perfect. Otherwise a thorough inspection can reveal that since at least 1991 all of the seats were covered with sheepskin covers. Only until recently were they removed to reveal excellent original seats, both front and rear. The driver’s side shows hardly any wear on the bolster and the rear seats are nearly new, all very well preserved with outstanding patina. The center console, carpeting and surrounding trim are all nearly flawless, and are in impressive condition. The dash fascia shows every bit to be original wood, chrome, gauges, and Becker Radio. All of which is in perfect working order, as is all of the instrumentation, lighting, and accessories throughout. The switches for the optional sunroof, A/C, and power windows all work as expected. Even the radio antenna protrudes when the radio is switched on. The headliner is excellent, but upon close inspection there are a few minor stains that can be noted towards the rear. The top of the dash has no blemishes, is clearly original and in excellent condition as is the matching original wood trim surround. The steering wheel does show two very small cracks at the thick part where the brim is connected to the center. Very typical for Mercedes of this era, but not something that would need attention for years to come. The door jams are very clean, and the doors show nice original chrome.

The trunk and engine bay are always key investigative points in determining how Mercedes-Benz’s of this era were kept. The trunk shows very well, clean under the matt with no rust issues currently present, nor do we believe there to ever have been as evident by the original sound deadening material etc… The engine bay is very presentable, not show quality, but something any owner could be proud of when showing off the 200hp 3.5 V8. It is in the engine bay that we can understand the high level of detail when the color change was completed, there is but one small chip, showing that the car used to be white. Otherwise, no indication, and very well completed. Otherwise, many items are very original, still date coded and overall the engine bay is very original. We can see original wires off of the distributor cap, original A/C lines etc… While the car has clearly been kept up over the years as evident by its superb running condition and thorough inspection; we unfortunately do not have the paper records to back this up. We are however currently researching this and do expect to have something shortly.

The underside of this example as with any W111 or Pagoda car from this era is always where the first blemish or indication of its prior life will be given away. We unfortunately have noted one small section in the left front wheel well, outer sub-structure of the chassis member that has suffered the unfortunate demise of typical 1960’s Mercedes rust proofing (or lack thereof). Even great examples such as this, well cared for years on end can suffer from what can be considered a “typical” rust issue on these cars. As such we have highlighted it to the best of our ability, and have concluded that any experienced restoration facility could remedy this issue with little effort. Otherwise the floors are straight and solid, the inner fenders are thin and sharp as they should be and there is no indication of any filler usage anywhere on the car at all. It can be said that despite its small issue, this is indeed an excellent rust free, and solid example.

Any present issues tend to fade away upon putting this example to work. It starts easily, revs freely making good power, and pulls away without fault. The transmission shifts very well (smoothly), and the brakes are free of any pulling or softness. The steering is tight and the car handles nothing short of impressive, especially considering the size. It can be considered then that this is a true driver, well preserved, and scrupulously kept. It is an example that offers many great things for its new custodian.

Absolutely the last of the collectible Mercedes, the 3.5 is one of the greats and a must have for any connoisseur or collector looking for a fine example that won’t disappoint. Complete with all tools in their original pouch, jack, spare, wheel chock, owner’s manual, Becker warranty & owner’s manual in original plastic, and a log of the most recent owners enjoyment/per mile. Please inquire with any interest.

The interior of this car is really stunning, with a patina that gives it the aura of an old drawing room. Having spent time inside a number of W111s, every time I step in one it’s like putting on a pair of old, comfortable jeans. There’s a familiarity and comfort about these cars for me, which is probably why I’ve always wanted one. With the wide grill, liberal use of chrome and size of this two door, the 280SE 3.5 strikes an imposing pose on the road. It’s no secret that values for the 280SE 3.5 are strong. Not surprisingly, the coupes tend to bring less than the more rare cabriolet. Coupes in similar condition to this particular car are bringing in between $40,000 and $60,000 these days.

The following is a short piece from Deutsche Welle TV highlighting a 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet in action, with some period footage from Mercedes-Benz: