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
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.
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.
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
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.
email@example.com (A-Drive) wrote in message
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
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