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Penned by Paul Bracq and Freidrich Geiger, the W108/W109 (denoting short and long-wheelbase models respectively) was built across two distinct series between 1965 and 1972 as successors to the W111 and W112 ‘fintail’ sedans.

Interestingly, the W109 chassis was chosen to form the basis of what many regard to the the first ‘Q-car’ from M-B, when Erich Waxenberger transplanted a 6.3-litre V8 from the M100 into a W109 chassis. Somewhat surprisingly, this hybrid of luxury and performance made it into full production, and held the title of the world’s fastest production sedan for many years, being able to sprint from 0-62 in just 6.5 seconds!

The second-generation W108 - as seen here - benefitted from an enlarged engine (2.5 bored out to 2.8, with subsequent re-naming of the models from 250 S and SE to 280 S and SE) and a revised engine line-up was offered, though - visually - little changed from the ‘first series’ cars, which was very good news indeed, given that these wonderful saloons were built at a time when Mercedes valued quality over cost control.

As ever, the fuel-injected models - denoted SE - were more powerful and therefore more desirable (producing 158bhp from new, as opposed to the 138 quoted for the carburettor-fed engine) making this particular 280 even more appealing.

The Vehicle

First registered in Greece in 1972, this final-year ‘series 2’ 280 SE has lived an adventurous, continent-spanning lifestyle, taking in Greece, France and the UK as permanent residences, and no doubt travelling across many other countries along the way.

Whilst unsubstantiated (due to a lost log book) we’re told that this 280 SE was first delivered to Greece (as confirmed by the accompanying build/heritage certificate) where it spent the majority of its life in the hands of its wealthy owners. It was then shipped to Nice - still in the care of its original keepers - and registered in France, where it was subsequently passed to the children of the first owners.

The car was then sold to a garage by the then-owners, and purchased by the current keeper, after both she and her mum had wanted one for years, due to the wonderfully 60’s bodywork styling.

In its current ownership, the car has always been garaged, and was used regularly in France for travelling to town on market days, carting the vendor’s three cherished dogs to the vets, and for running day-to-day errands, always with plenty of smiles and admiration from passers-by.

In more recent years, the car has been brought into the UK and registered here, and has benefitted from extensive recent investment (details of which can be found below) and is now being reluctantly sold due to being surplus to requirements, offering one lucky bidder the chance to obtain a much-loved, well-travelled and mechanically proven example of the classic W108 sedan.

On the Outside

Finished in a regal shade of dark blue, the classic Bracq / Waxenberger lines of this 280 SE are largely untroubled by time and age, and looking along the flanks of the vehicle there is little evidence of any mis-aligned panels, dents or dings to be worried out, save for the odd minor ‘car park’ indentation which would be expected on any vehicle of this age.

The paintwork, however, would benefit from some attention. The area around the lower rear window/boot lid appears to have been affected by some fluid or an aggressive cleaner at some stage as it shows two different colours (best seen in images 103-105 ) and some surface cracking (image 83).

Elsewhere, there are also numerous patches of bubbling and corrosion in the following areas:

  • Offside rear door, above the trim line
  • Offside front arch
  • Nearside rear door above the trim line
  • Nearside rear wing above the trim line
  • Offside rear edge of boot / rear panel
  • Centre of rear panel, near to the registration plate
  • Offside rear arch

In addition to this, there is also the commensurate wear (such as stone chips and light marks) visible around the body in keeping with the vehicle’s age and mileage, along with some more visible blemishes on the offside rear arch and nearside rear door, dents to the bumpers (both front and rear) and some scuffs noted on the bumper rubber trims.

Both the front and rear lights are free from any damage or signs of water ingress, and all of the trims, chrome details and badges are present-and-correct, whilst the main grille wears a brace of period badges testifying to this 280 SE’s much-travelled and cherished life.

All four wheels present very well, with no major kerb rash or damage noted during our photo shoot.

On the Inside

Recently treated and deep-cleaned, the interior of this 280 SE remains in remarkably good condition overall, having clearly been kept in good order throughout its lifetime.

The seats, both front and rear, present very well, with the only notable issues being a small hole in the outside of the driver’s seat base, and the cover for the front passenger seat having detached itself from its mounting point. In the rear, there are some commensurate signs of wear to the seat base, but no damage that we could see.

Up ahead, the dashboard displays some light usage patina, as do the shifter and steering wheel, but nothing that we’d consider untoward for the vehicle’s age.

Above the occupants, the headliner is secure and taut throughout, with only a few blemishes noted.

In the rear, the boot floor liner has seen better days but remains usable, whilst the boot contains a number of spare parts, along with a car cover.

An upgraded Blaupunkt stereo and radio receiver aerial have been fitted to the vehicle, but otherwise no modifications have been made to the interior, and there are no known faults with any of the switches, gauges or displays, though the air-conditioning system is currently inoperable.


Having benefitted from over £11,000 worth of restoration and overhaul works since being shipped to the UK whilst in the care of the current owner, this W108 may be showing its age up above, but appears to be in nothing short of rude mechanical health.

Firing into life with ease whether hot or cold and performing flawlessly out on the road, it’s not hard to see why these six-cylinder sedans proved popular for long-distance driving. The suspension is wonderfully smooth (and delightfully bouncy in a period-correct way) whilst the engine itself purrs along, happily idling for extended periods of time, and showing no evidence of any smoke on idle or under load (as shown in the video below).

We did note that the transmission does not line up correctly with the indicator below the instrument binnacles, though it appeared to perform without issue. The ‘park’ function on the gearbox also appears to be faulty, as even in ‘P’ the car would roll on a grade without the manual parking brake being engaged.

In the engine bay itself, the block and its ancillaries present in good order, with the typical signs of ageing and surface corrosion being visible to many fixtures and fittings, though no signs of any fluid leaks or issues, and plenty of evidence of recent works. The air-conditioning compressor is currently disconnected.

Underneath, the chassis looks to be in excellent condition, and a stainless-steel exhaust has been fitted to replace the rotted-out OE item, though the engine note remains unchanged and wonderfully refined.

On account of its age, the vehicle is exempt from mandatory MoT testing, though an exam was carried out on 27 April 2022, resulting in a pass with an advisory for a faulty indicator switch, which has since been rectified.

History Highlights

Included with this 280 SE is a strong history, largely comprised of documentation from the current ownership, showing over £11,000 worth of expenditure in recent years to bring the car mechanically up-to-scratch to enable continued use and enjoyment.

As always, we’ve photographed all of the documentation that has been sent to us, and this can be found at the end of the gallery below. However, for those of you looking for a quick run-down of the highlights, please see below:

Over £11,000 spent with both the Classic Project Shop and Standlake Vehicle services, addressing the following areas:

  • Fitment of a push-button ignition switch
  • Routine servicing
  • Addressing various electrical and ignition-related issues
  • Crafting and fitment of a new stainless-steel exhaust - Major interior clean, treatment and staining - New gearbox mounts, PAS hoses, ignition leads, plugs and distributor, new fuel pipe - Fitment of new rear brake callipers and a brake fluid flush
  • Dashboard rebuild - New rear driveshaft seal
  • Shipment documentation from 2021, including correspondence with the shipping company and completed NOVA/Import duty documents
  • The UK V5 registered keepers document, showing 0 former UK keepers
  • Miscellaneous documentation and invoices from the vehicle’s time in France/Continental Europe
  • Mercedes-Benz Heritage certificate
  • Greek and French registration plates
  • A brace of MB-OC magazines
  • MoT certificates
  • Owners manual and an enlarged copy of the owners manual

What We Think

We love a car with a story here at The Market, and this 1972-registered, late-production 280 SE is certainly no exception.

Having carried its owners in comfort and style around Europe and, more recently, the UK and benefitting from significant expenditure in recent years whilst in the care of our vendor, this 280 SE still has plenty of life left in it yet, and would make the ideal travelling companion for anyone looking for a useable and dependable classic driver.

Equally, with its mechanical elements seemingly in full health, this 280 SE would also make a prime candidate for further restoration of the bodywork and aesthetics, to bring it back to its full glory.

Whichever route you choose to take, this 280 SE has got you covered. Presented for sale with an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000 the potential is clear to see, and there is no doubt the next owner will love and cherish this classic Merc’ just as much as its previous keepers.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 89,000 km
  • Chassis Number: 10801812098441
  • Engine: 280
  • Gearbox: Auto
  • Steering position: Left-hand drive
  • Colour: Midnight Blue
  • Interior: Black Vinyl
  • Estimated Price: £10,000 - £15,000

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