Considering 1970-72 280sel. Am I crazy?

Hi all,
I have been lurking about this board although I've never posted. I am getting more and more serious about buying a 1970-1972 280se or sel. It would be driven 3-4 days a week and about 3K to 5K per year. I live
in San Diego CA, 5 blocks to the ocean (and I don't have a garage). There are 2 or 3 reputable MB service mechanics within 5 miles of my house. I plan on getting a MB that's been taken care of with records. Here in CA there's quite a few to choose from. Would love to hear from you folks about your experiences in owning a 33+ year old 280se or sel. And the pros and cons of the 6cyl vs the 8. I am concerned about how much $$ it will take to maintain the car. Also, I am a little concerned about rust. If I buy a rust free MB, how long before the ocean air wreaks havoc on the vehicle? Thanks again
Andy
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You'll pay a premium for one of these in very good condition; you recognize the rust issue yet have no garage to protect a premium condition car from the salt air. That equation = waste of a good car and of your money.
Many of these were sold, as you note, there's no shortage. Suggest you buy a cheap one for the modest use proposed and, after a year or so, buy a better one if you still like the concept of driving a 280SE.
Compared to contemporary cars these cars require considerable maintenance - lubrication, adjustment, tuning etc. so you'll need a shop with some old guys who've worked on such cars and know the model well. The knowledge base fades with a car's age; the 25 or 30 year old who worked on these when the cars were new is now retired, or about to be.
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On the flip side if you are so inclined, the mainteance and repair on the older models is not too complicated to do yourself. I like working on our MBs and it always provides a good excuse to buy tools :^) Who knows - you might become quite an enthusiast and trade up as TG suggests.
Scott D

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Hi Andy,
You're not crazy at all. My name is Paul and I'm new to the board but not to old Mercedes. As a former journalist at several car magazines I got to drive a lot of new cars for evaluation, and I still keep coming back to the old Mercedes for my own transportation.
I recently had a 73 280SE 4.5, and I have to say I wish I never sold it. It was a great car, and number 4 in my history of w108s. I currently have as a daily driver a beautiful original 65 220SEb coupe. I'm the 2nd owner and have all the paperwork from the original purchase from a dealer up the road from San Diego in Riverside. It has been an excellent and reliable car, and never fails to bring compliments and smiles. The w111 coupe is mechanically nearly identical to the w108, so comments here apply to both.
Six vs. V8: the V8 feels far more powerful, smooth and sophisticated than the six, and 4.5 w108s feel like a different car to me, but there's an upside to the six as well. Repair of the six is noticeably less expensive. Especially when you consider major repairs, such as valve jobs and complete rebuilds; on those the six tends to be about 1/3 less. Regarding regular service, the six requires valve adjustments every 10k miles or so, and never neglect to change the oil on either engine. Should your car need a rebuilt engine, I've had very good experience with those from Metric Motors. They are well known by most MBZ shops; they offer rebuilt engines with 3 year warranties. On any w108 you consider, start out with a relatively rust-free example, you'll be miles ahead in the game, and also avoid cars that smoke on start-up (cold, but esp. warm), that indicate worn valve guides and at a minimum a future valve job (appx. $2400 for a six, and $3200 for a V8).
Good luck in your search. I'm looking for one too, though I'm at the other end of the state in the Bay Area.
Cheers, Paul
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Before you buy any older MB make sure that there is an independent MB shop nearby. The factory authorized MB shops don't want to work on these older cars anymore. They want to service the newer "plug and play" models....the kind they can hook up to the computer, get a read-out, and then replace modules instead of individual parts. In your area the MB dealer shop rate is probably $100 an hour or higher. Way too much for techs that probably have never worked on anything over 10 years old. Again, find any indie MB repair shop. They will be cheaper and should be able to do a better for you.

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there are tons of MB repair shops in San Diego. That wont be a problem. KH Escondido

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A ton of MB shops that are not only incompetent but just plain crooked!
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Mostly incompetent yes. KH

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