Amongst other things, Mercedes have long been renowned for the quality of their large luxury saloons. Back in the late sixties, the range now known as the S Class came in two flavours denoted by their internal model numbers W108 and W109. The W108 had a shorter wheelbase and lesser engine options while the W109, of which this is an example, had an extra 4 inches in the wheelbase with the ‘L’ on the end of the model name for ‘Lange’ (German for ‘long’) with a more luxurious interior featuring leather seats, walnut trim and electric windows.
Designed by Frenchman Paul Bracht, the bodywork eschewed the tail fins and heavy chrome of its predecessors for a clean, elegant look. The engine options were initially straight sixes but the Germans demonstrated their capacity for humour by inserting the 6.3 litre V8 from their flagship limousine to create the world’s fastest four door in the 300 SEL 6.3. Later revisions to the range saw the addition of a smaller 3.5 litre V8, as seen here, which came with the V8 engine note and air suspension of the range topper but without its enormous cost and prodigious fuel consumption.
Producing 200bhp and mated to a 4 speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels, the 3.5 is the Goldilocks choice of the range and is a popular classic across Europe.
This example was imported from Belgium as a restoration project in 2019 by the current owner and registered in January this year. Little is known about its journey up to that point but it is believed to have spent most of its life in Belgium and the Netherlands and was partially restored, including receiving a new fuel tank and exhaust, prior to export. Since then the interior restoration has been completed including re-finishing the leather, replacing the headlining and cleaning and treating the wood. The air suspension has been fully renewed, a new steering pump fitted, the brakes overhauled and a full service carried out. On the exterior, the car has received a new boot lid and the headlights and chromework have been professionally polished. Having completed all of that just in time for another lockdown, there hasn’t been much opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labours and the vendor, who has a small collection of classic cars, has another on the way, so needs to free up space and is offering the car for sale.
The car is now fully UK registered and comes with all of the relevant documentation including an MOT which is valid until December 2021. The manuals are present but sadly there is no history from its time on the continent. However, there are a full set of invoices totalling between three and four thousand pounds for work carried out during the car’s time in the UK.
It may be getting on for fifty years old but this still feels every inch a luxury car inside thanks to the time and effort that has been spent on the upholstery. The seats, refinished in their original Peacock blue, look comfortable and inviting while the deep carpet is in great condition. The rear bench looks equally inviting with the ‘L’ in SEL providing ample leg room. The wood has benefited from the refurbishment and, although the replacement glovebox lid is not a perfect match, the real crime against classic car ownership is the modern stereo but this can of course be replaced with something more suitable. The steering wheel is a design classic in its own right and fronts a dashboard layout of elegant simplicity and all of the buttons and switches function as intended. The boot is vast despite housing a full-size spare wheel and the original toolkit.
Externally the car presents very well, the silver coachwork being the perfect way to highlight the timeless design, and the time spent on the chrome paying dividends. The panels are all very straight with tight panel gaps while the paintwork is in generally very good condition with just a few small rust bubbles making an appearance around the arches, on the driver’s side front wing and at the corner of the bootlid opening. The wheels are all in good condition and wear tyres with good tread.
Surely, for any car with a 3.5 litre V8 at its heart, the motor will be the main highlight? Well, the engine starts on the button and pulls strongly with a restrained V8 rumble. It’s certainly quick enough to keep up with the cut and thrust of modern traffic. But the real star of the show here is the ride quality; with its new air suspension components, this SEL could teach a lot of modern cars a thing or two about comfort. The level of insulation that it provides from frost-damaged road surfaces is quite remarkable for a car of any age and, while it’s not also accompanied with sports car handling, neither does it wallow in the corners. There are no untoward noises from the suspension or drivetrain, the gearchange is smooth and the brakes pull the car up smartly. In short, it’s ready to be enjoyed, and it will probably keep the passengers just as happy as the driver!
The seller has also replaced the Auxiliary Belts (Fan), had the heater checked and reconditioned and had further hoses replaced.
Also worth noting is that the vendor has accumulated between five and seven hundred pounds’ worth of additional spare parts including glazing, door handles and other items that he has hunted down. These will all be supplied to the buyer.
The W109 is a fabulous piece of design that, to our eyes, has aged particularly well and, when mated to the 3.5 litre V8, makes for a classic that is an ideal blend of affordability and usability. Although not a concours example, this car has been the subject of a sympathetic restoration with a great deal spent over the last couple of years which means it’s very usable. As such the car is ready to go and, wherever the next owner chooses to point their three-pointed star, the family can come too - in complete luxury. Left hand drive obviously opens up the prospect of easy progress on the continent which would make a perfect post-pandemic road trip. So, if you can see this lovely specimen in your life, get your bid in now.
Notice to bidders
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
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