RESERVE LOWERED - 1983 Mercedes-Benz 280E


・Six-pot W123 with full service history
・Owned by one family from new
・Super-rare manual model
・South African import, The car is already in the UK and all import paperwork has been completed

The Background

There are some cars that are enduring legends, renowned for one particular trait that stands head and shoulders above any other.

In the case of the Mercedes-Benz W123, that trait was (and still is) longevity. 

Wonderfully over-engineered like no car before or since and subtly, unobtrusively stylish at the same time. Between 1975 and 1986, it was quite simply one of the best cars in the world – if not the best in terms of build quality. 

It didn’t matter that it was dynamically quite ordinary, for here was a car that was an absolute legend in other areas. Comfort, quality and engineering were at the fore, along with a prestige and historic badge that was as old as the motor car itself.

The W123, you see, is just one of those cars that’s built to take it. Be that as an endurance rally car, working vehicle, family transport or long distance cruiser. 

And it’s those very traits that make the W123 as desirable today as it was back then. This one, freshly imported from South Africa, is remarkably clean and looks ready for anything. It’s particularly unusual for a 280E in that it has manual transmission, making it the fastest standard W123 variant. 

The car has just arrived in the UK from South Africa, where it was originally built for the SA market in East London.

The History

Quite remarkably, the car has been owned by the same family for all of its 38-year life, right up until it was acquired by the vendor earlier this year. 

It has recently arrived in the UK from South Africa, from where the vendor sources a few cars a year. A British national, he worked in the country for over a decade in the motor trade before returning to the UK and now sources a range of quirky and interesting right-hand-drive cars via his contacts in Cape Town.

The Paperwork

The most impressive thing about this car is its full service history, which goes right back to day one. It includes bills, receipts and original handbooks, as well as a stamped service record.

The seller has also completed all of the import and duty paperwork relative to the car so there are no additional taxes to pay, while the DVLA NOVA notification and original South African registration document are included. 

It will be supplied with a full UK MOT, as the vendor wants to reassure the buyer that it is roadworthy. He is also happy to help the buyer register the car in the UK if that’s where it remains upon sale. 

The Exterior

Finished in Diamond Blue Metallic, this is a facelift W123 with the larger headlights and improved cabin.

The bodywork is in superb order, retaining a deep shine despite the best part of four decades in a hot climate. There’s no visible corrosion and the body is in superb, straight order with no dents, ripples or notable scratches. 

It comes with its original Bundt wheels, with body-coloured centre caps. It’s in terrific condition throughout and also sports a factory steel sunroof.

The Interior

Inside, the car sports tobacco leather upholstery which is in remarkable condition, especially when you consider it has covered over 185,000km (115,000 miles). 

There’s virtually no wear to the seat bolsters, while the carpets and door cards are also in fine order. 

This is a very well-specced example, with air conditioning, four electric windows, cruise control and a period Becker stereo, which is in full working order. 

It also still has its original first aid kit and toolkit, along with boot-mounted warning triangle.

The Mechanics

The 2,746cc straight-six is a superb engine, used in lots of Mercedes models of the 1970s and 1980s. 

It develops an impressive 182bhp, which along with this car’s four-speed manual gearbox gives it a 0-60 time of just under nine seconds and a top speed of 139mph. This is a car designed and engineered in the liberated early days of German autobahns, and it has the performance to match.

The engine starts on the button and sounds healthy, while the owner reports that it is in good working order and that it drives exactly as it should. 

The Appeal

This is a fabulous example of the stalwart W123, in the most lively spec and from a dry climate where corrosion is rarely a problem. 

It also has the added curiosity value of being a South African-built example and of having a manual gearbox, which adds a level of extra interest. It has stacks of history going right back to Day One thanks to its one-family ownership and it is in superb condition. 

Add in the factory air con, sunroof, cruise control and that beguiling tobacco leather interior and you have a car that’s enchanting from every perspective. With no rust to be seen and that incredible history file, it’s a lovely car and one that promises to be a sound future investment. It’s most likely one of the best W123s that money can buy.

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 1983
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model 280E
  • Colour Diamond Blue
  • Odometer 185,367 Kilometers
  • Engine size 2746
  • Location Norfolk
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
9 bids from 5 bidders
  • Roger19•••• £9,000 15/06/21
  • TIO £8,500 12/06/21
  • NikRoss•••• £8,400 11/06/21
  • Roger19•••• £7,800 10/06/21
  • NikRoss•••• £7,400 10/06/21
  • NikRoss•••• £7,200 10/06/21
  • Hamputo•••• £6,000 10/06/21
  • Hamputo•••• £5,000 10/06/21
  • Paul Co•••• £200 09/06/21

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