PADDY O'BRIEN RACING
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
317-388-9846

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For Sale

1972 MERCEDES BENZ 280 SEL 4.5

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Mercedes 2 004Mercedes 2 002

History

I can not imagine a better genuine classic car for less than $20,000 and I am only asking for $19,900!    Classic cars are generally considered to be those vehicles built before 1973 when  new strict Federal emission and bumper laws ruined car design forever.  A 1972 test in Road and Track magazine declared the Mercedes 280 SEL 4.5 to be the best overall “regular” car you could buy,  even though it costs twice the price of a new Cadillac or Corvette.  The cost was mainly due to the spectacular build quality resulting from the best engineering and materials used, and the fact that the W108 chassis, introduced in 1965, was the last of the hand built Mercedes, each car assembled by a team of 10 mechanics and one quality supervisor.  Mercedes moved to a new factory in 1973 that used faster assembly line methods. Quality suffered after that.  The W108 chassis all looked similar on the outside, but offered a range of 6 cylinder OHC motors ranging from 2500cc to 2800cc and later offered fuel injection instead of carbs. Finally, starting in 1971, Mercedes offered their first regular production V8 motor with the new M117, a 4500cc V8 of advanced design using alloy heads with OHC and the first generation  Bosch electronic fuel injection system. In fact this motor was so advanced that it was used in Mercedes cars until 1992. Also first used with the 4.5 V8 was a new 3-speed automatic transmission that was basically a German copy of the GM transmission.  So, the 1972 Mercedes is the perfect combination of a classic 1960’s design by the famous Paul Braq, and totally modern engine/transmission plus advanced independent suspension for very nimble handling. The brakes are four wheel discs and will slow the car quickly, which is important because this is a fast car designed to run 100 mph+ all day on the Autobahn. Top speed is 130+.  In 1972 Mercedes offered the 280SEL 4.5 as the top W108 4 door sedan model, but also offered a similar mechanically, 280 SE 2-door coupe and a 280 2-door convertible Cabriolet, each also offered the new V8 motor. Today at auction, a 280SE coupe in similar condition to my 280 sedan, would fetch at least $75,000. A 1972 Mercedes 280 SE Cab would get $150-175,000. No, I really don’t understand why removing the rear doors make the price skyrocket for basically similar cars. Mercedes is by far the best auto manufacturer for  support for their older models through their Classic Center, which makes sure that there is almost no part that is not available for even a 42 year old classic.


This 1972 Mercedes Benz 280 SEL 4.5, with original Tobacco brown paint and original cognac leather interior, is the fourth W108 model Mercedes I have owned. I learned some hard lessons on  previous Mercedes W108 and W109 cars. Number one is to get a car that is totally free from rust. The Mercedes W108 and W109 cars are famous for their stiff over-built chassis due to the “uni-body” construction where the body panels are part of the load bearing chassis. This is what creates the famous bank vault like door “whoong” when you slam shut any of the doors. While Mercedes used the best steel available 40 years ago, their rust prevention consisted of a wax/oil based under coating, which usually dried out and cracked after about 10-15 years. Then it acted to create rust when water got in the cracks and was trapped. These cars rust from the inside out, so by the time you see rust on the outside it is too late.  After inspecting dozens W108 and W109 Mercedes in the past ten years or so, I don’t think there are many, if any, rust free examples in the central or east coast USA.  To make a long story shorter, this totally rust-free car lived most of its always garaged life in Los Angeles until the service manager for Atlanta’s largest Mercedes dealer bought the car for his collection in 2006. Then in a brokered deal, I bought the car from Neil Dubey who owns Star Motors in New York – probably the best shop in the world for the air suspension Mercedes 300SEL 6.3. This was Neil’s personal car for several months and so he made sure every thing worked as it should or his mechanics would fix it right away.

This car comes with complete documentation from the day it was purchased in L.A., in January 1972. The car currently has 125,612 miles and since 116,485 miles in about 2008, the following is just some of the work with receipts that has been completed: new motor mounts and sub frame rubber mounts, new flex disc, new Bilstein shocks, steering coupler, rebuilt and resealed steering box, and power steering pump. Complete brake system is new or rebuilt, calipers, new discs, master cylinders and booster, brake hoses. Replaced tie rods and align. Transmission service, air condition rebuild including new compressor, drier, convert to R134. New heater cables and lube heater valves. Timing chain in motor changed, new trigger points, new rubber hoses in fuel injection, new alternator, new ECU. Star motors re wrapped the wiring for fuel injection. 4 new Michelin tires.  Cosmetic items; new Mercedes windshield, refinish wood trim, replace any cracked or damaged interior pieces, replace all window seals (fuzzys), new door and trunk seals, paint trunk and rear panel. Replaced carpet pieces as necessary. Entire car is stock, as delivered in 1972 including excellent Becker four speaker AM/FM radio.

After all of the work was completed, I drove the car to a couple of national Mercedes Classic concourse events and cars shows. I thought it might be a fun automotive hobby to replace racing, but even though we won some, I found the events kind of boring.  I have run out of things to do on the car and can not think of anything on the car (except the clock) that does not look and work as it would on a well-maintained year old car. I really am not aware of a nicer original 4.5 in the U.S. It is ready to be driven to any classic car event and show well. I am afraid if I keep it, I may start doing things to it that would horrify Mercedes purists, like installing a modern sound system and maybe some alloy wheels and fat tires. Stop me before I molest this lovely Classic! Please call or e-mail to discuss. $19,900 OBO            6/14  Made the first change from stock by replacing the points ignition with the Crane 3000 magnetic ignition which replaced the amplifier and two ballast resistors, with a small black box(pic below) with TDC light. Motor now stronger than ever, fun between stoplights!   127,450 miles. This car has everything you want in an old Mercedes, an original, un-restored, immaculately maintained(have all bills as proof) car.  The paint is  85% original , I had a top Mercedes shop re-paint the trunk and rear panel due to some deep scratches. Leather seats are also original and crack-free and still soft. Mechanically, I see no major service issues for another 50k miles at least.

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