RESERVE LOWERED - 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL

Guide Price: £15,000 - £20,000


﹒Rare 3.5-litre V8 model
﹒Low mileage of just 18,000 miles
﹒Imported from private collector in Japan

The Background

What we have here is something truly special. One of just 951 built, this is arguably one of the rarest W108 versions out there. The W108 was a flagship car for Mercedes-Benz, and brought forward a new era of design and quality. To really drive this point home, engineers decided to make the W108 all things to all buyers. It could be bought as a standard wheelbase car with a traditional straight-six engine, or it could be had in a specification like the car here. Long wheelbase, and fitted with a 3.5-litre V8 engine packing an impressive 197bhp. This was, make no mistake, a proper executive hot rod. 

The W108 model in any guise is a car highly coveted today. One of the most popular classic Mercedes-Benz designs, collectors are always willing to pay top dollar to get one. Especially solid, original examples. This one, with its rare specification, is sure to set the bidding alight. It’s not a car that will present on the open market again any time soon.

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The History

This W108 in particular has only been in the UK since 2019. It was imported by a private collector from Japan. Since being in the UK, it has been kept indoors and in dry conditions. And while it has been registered with the DVLA and given a UK registration, it has spent minimal time on our roads. As such, it stands now in pretty much the same condition it was in when it came off the boat from Japan. 

Of course, a previous life in Japan is an excellent thing to have. They don’t salt the roads out there, and as such, this W108 is in fine order. That said, even if they did salt the roads, this W108 would have had menial exposure, having covered a hair under 18,000 miles over the course of its life. It could well be the lowest mileage example of its kind.

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The Paperwork

Unfortunately there isn’t a mass of paperwork with this car. However, there is documentation to confirm the car’s entry into the UK, there is documentation regarding the imports and there is some evidence of past insurance. 

While it's unfortunate that the car’s history on paper is absent, there is no denying that with a vehicle such as this, it’s the condition that matters the most.

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The Interior

As you would expect for a car with such low mileage, the interior is in good condition order throughout. Nothing is awry, nor does anything seem to be damaged. The trim is a mix of grey cloth and MB Tex and there is no evidence of any excessive wear. All the seats are in great condition, and the front seats move and adjust as they should. 

The door cards are also presentable, though there is some faint water staining on the fabric section of one of the rear doors. Nothing a good detailer can’t sort out though. The door cards are all straight and true, and are still clipped in position well (they can fail on old Mercedes models).

The dashboard is in good shape, though it should be noted that a wonderfully period head unit has been fitted at some point in the car’s past. The wood appears to be in good condition, with the only slight issue is the strip of wood at the back end of the dash by the windscreen, which has lost some of its varnish over the years. Though it’s to be expected given its position. 

Elsewhere in the interior, the sills are all good, the carpets are in good condition including the mats, the pillars all look solid, the doors all shut with a pleasing ‘thunk’ and all the seals seem to be in good health. All the buttons and switchgear worked when tested, and the headlining is in wonderful condition, too. It’s just a lovely, clean, well-engineered, solid place to be.

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The Exterior 

Gloss black hides no secrets, which is fine here, as this W108 seems to have none to hide. The bodywork is in great condition from front to back, with no major imperfections nor any signs of past damage or poor repair. The paint would benefit from a proper cut and polish, as there is some swirling to be observed, but nothing that couldn’t be sorted with an afternoon’s work. Looking down the car’s flanks, there are no untoward waves or ripples. Furthermore, all the panel gaps are uniform and all the doors open and close as they should, as does the bonnets and boot. 

The chrome is in nice condition order too, with only minor age-related pitting to be seen. Nothing of any neglect though, just commensurate with the age of the vehicle. The bumpers are all straight and true, the chrome grill is still bright and proud and all the window surrounds are in good order. 

Looking underneath the car, there appears to be plenty of rust protection applied, and there seems to be nothing of serious note to report. The exhaust backbox looks like it might need some attention though. Also, the jacking points might need to be protected against the British elements, as they’re exposed metal at present. 

The black and chrome is a classic combination. Add in the black and chrome hubcaps, and you have a Mercedes-Benz that oozes class and style. 

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Looking under the bonnet, the engine bay is wonderfully original and as such, serves to back up the low mileage. The air-box could perhaps use a lick of paint, but that’s about all that detracts visually. Everything else is (bar the modern battery) original and as it left the factory. It looks to have been largely untouched over the course of its life. 
In terms of running, the W108 hasn’t really been used much over the last year, and as such would benefit from a mild tune up. However, the car does fire up on the button and the V8 sounds glorious and in rude health. It settles into a happy idle and soon comes to an acceptable running temperature. The transmission, too, functions as it should with no noises or issues, and all the brakes perform as one would expect.
Finally, there is the suspension. The W108 models were sprung rather than air, and as such, this is a much more simple and easy to maintain setup. It’s all rock solid in terms of condition, and it still carries the car well. There is no sagging, nor any excessive movement. The same can be said of the steering, which is pleasingly light and while not the most direct by nature, is still communicative and tight.

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The appeal here is simple: it’s a classic V8 Mercedes-Benz saloon built in extremely limited numbers. Fewer than 1,000 of this model were made, and of those only a handful survive. If you’re a classic car collector, or just a Mercedes-Benz aficionado, you’ll welcome such a classic into your collection with open arms. 
This is a classic Mercedes-Benz saloon as it should be. Big, handsome, laden with chrome and packing a soulful, powerful V8 engine. And being the W108, there is no complicated air suspension to fight with. Instead, you just need to keep it serviced, give it polished and you’ll forever have a classic that turns heads, but that will also make you smile every time you take it for a spin.

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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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1972
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model 280 SEL
  • Colour Black
  • Odometer 28,895 Kilometers
  • Engine size 3490
  • Location Lancashire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
14 bids from 9 bidders
  • br•••• £12,000 01/07/21
  • ma•••• £11,750 01/07/21
  • ma•••• £11,500 01/07/21
  • sh•••• £11,250 01/07/21
  • sh•••• £11,000 01/07/21
  • da•••• £10,750 01/07/21
  • sh•••• £10,500 01/07/21
  • jo•••• £10,000 29/06/21
  • be•••• £7,500 28/06/21
  • jo•••• £5,000 25/06/21

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