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17,851 Original Miles: 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

In 1970, Mercedes Benz automobiles were not the luxury and engineering juggernaut in the U.S. that they are today. They were known to be well-built cars, but why buy a Mercedes when you could buy a Cadillac, Lincoln or Imperial? Well, if you examine this 1970 280SE four-door sedan, located in Smith Town, New York (Long Island) and available here on craigslist for $14,500 you may appreciate the durable and classy styling of this Benz. I will caution you to review all of the images that are with the listing in their entirety, they are not too comprehensive. Thanks to FordGuy1972 for the tip!

Mercedes-Benz automobiles have always been purposefully designed and built cars. Part of their allure was to showcase German engineering skills while eschewing some of the more opulent aspects of domestic luxury cars, things like excessive chrome, wire wheel covers, whitewall tires, velour upholstery, fender skirts, opera windows, landau tops, etc. But it was more than just clear-cut appearance differences, it had as much or more to do with road manners, performance and braking all while wrapped in a high-mileage capable package.

Our subject 280SE has, according to the seller, only 17,000 miles. The exterior shows very well for this one family-owned car though it has been repainted. Mercedes of this era, somewhat like Volvos, had an “old before their time” appearance about them. The prominent vertical grille seems a throw-back to another era. The listing states that this Benz has sat for years in an airplane hanger which, coupled with the low mileage, makes me wonder why it needed to be repainted. Same with the statement regarding, “all rust removed and patched the floor”. Stored well, with low mileage, would make me think that the floors and exterior finish would not need renewing.

Under the hood, we find a 2.8 liter “M130” in-line six-cylinder engine capable of developing 168 HP. All the seller states about the motivational force is that it “runs very well.” This Mercedes has AC too and it has been converted to 134-A, it blows ice cold. The seller further adds that this car needs nothing else and you can just get in and drive.

The interior has the typical Mercedes Teutonic, all business vibe about it. It is interesting to note, that even though this Mercedes has an automatic transmission and a center console, the gear selector is located on the column. The upholstery, carpet, and dash all look appropriate for a car of this mileage that hasn’t been exposed to strong sunlight. The seller claims that the carpet has been replaced, it looks new, and the windshield too; not sure what happened there.

I don’t come across Mercedes-Benz vehicles of this vintage very often and it is nice to see one in this condition. Mercedes have a strong following and I would expect this Benz to resonate well with an enthusiast. I’d like to know more about this car’s entire life and storage, in particular about the situation with the floors, that one is a head-scratcher. Beyond that, if vintage M-B cars are your thing, this example warrants a closer look.


  1. alphasud Member

    That odometer has been around at least once. Unless the owner can provide complete documentation it’s a TMU car. Either way the values of clean 280’s of that vintage are on the rise.

    Like 1
  2. ccrvtt

    If it does have 17k on the clock it’s an insane bargain. Even at 117k it’s a steal. This car will go another 200k easy and if taken care of be worth significant dollars at the end.

    For $14,500 would you buy this or a used Altima/Camry/Accord?

    Great find. Should be gone soon.

    Like 7
  3. Fred W

    A close up of the pedals could tell you whether it’s ever been around, assuming they haven’t been replaced. I agree that 117K is minimal on this car. A hangar isn’t ideal storage, which could explain the new paint. Maybe the area was high humidity? Unlike the diesels, this car can get out of it’s own way.

    Like 2
  4. dirtyharry

    Agreed, apparently a real bargain with questions. It makes sense (as a seller) to have BEFORE pictures, so a buyer could see what was wrong and make up there own mind. “Patched Floor” on a vehicle stored indoors? Same with new carpet, paint and windshield. Was it in a flood? Was it parked in a corner, where the roof of the hangar leaked? Was it just the fact, that it was in a non climate controlled storage? A new paint job can hid a lot of ills. I would like to see the “dirty” side too. HH to all!

    Like 2
  5. Solosolo UK ken tillyUK Member

    One thing is for sure, this Mercedes build quality is far better than American cars of the same era. I have owned several of each and although the USA cars were good, the Mercs were far superior. No such thing as a squeak or rattle, and when you close the door it’s just like a bank vault closing. If this car has done 117,000 miles then the engine is just about run-in and good for another 117k.

    Like 9
    • Robert L Roberge

      That was true, even of the 180 gas powered, too.

      Like 0
    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      Ken, & according to the retired techs of my employers imports garage Volvos of the same era were of a better build & durability than the MBs.

      Like 0
      • Solosolo UK ken tillyUK Member

        @Bob in Bexley. And I think I could maybe agree with you as I know they were pretty well bullet proof, but I have ever only been driven in a Volvo but never owned one so can’t voice an opinion.

        Like 0
    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      Well Ken since I’ve worked in a Volvo service garage for 15 yrs I’ll say Volvo offers best value hands down lol !

      Like 0
  6. Robert H

    I grew up on Long Island. It would be a miracle if this car hadn’t had rust issues. High humidity, salt air, lots of snow, salted roads. Rust is a constant battle.

    Like 0
  7. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I saw a lot of these MB when I was pumpin’ petrol back in the early ’70s. I always thought the front end treatment with the stacked headlights and that grille made for a very attractive saloon(sedan). I don’t know Jack about them, but I know what I like and this one’s a beauty.

    Like 1
  8. Kinmont_Willie

    My uncle bought a new one exactly like this in Oyster White new back in the 1970. He had always owned top of the line Pontiacs and this was his first imported car. I think he felt his friends didn’t hold the car in very high esteem, because they all drove their land yachts to the golf course. I think the old guys were making him feel like Rodney Dangerfield, so decided to trade it in for a new Pontiac after only a year. I told him to let me know what they were going to give him for the trade and if I could, I would match it.
    He went ahead and bought the Pontiac and I didn’t hear anything about the MB 280SE. I had recently returned from Vietnam, after getting hit bad in combat and used most of my money to buy a 65 Mustang 2+2 High Performance and wanted this for my wife and I was a bit disappointed.
    He had sent the MB out and had it detailed and tuned and gave it to my wife for her birthday. He and his wife didn’t have any kids and he said this was his way of thanking me for my service. We were blown away and kept the car for 20 years. I wish we still had it, because it only got better with age. It was beautiful and fun to drive, but kids were going off to college and the extra money was a help.

    Like 0
  9. Andrew Franks

    Good find. Too far away for me. Someone buy it, give it to Mercedes Classchise, let them do a once over, stem to stern, then drive and enjoy it forever. They are great cars.

    Like 0
  10. Stevieg

    Moisture can come up from concrete. Being in the hangar, sitting on concrete for a long time, the underside can get rusty. If the floors were fixed, how is the frame? If good, this is a great buy. If not, well that would be a different story.

    Like 1
  11. Bob McK

    Good car if you can afford the repair bills. These are not cheap to repair.

    Like 0
  12. dab

    The old “stored in a hanger” line. More like stored in a seaplane hanger.

    Like 1

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