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Gold Standard: 1971 Mercedes 280SEL

1971 Mercedes 280SEL

This 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SEL here on eBay caught the seller’s eye due to its gold color. He had plans to use it as a donor car for a Pullman or 6.9 project, but has decided he needs the space more than he needs a parts car. More interesting to me are the two E12-series BMWs parked on either side wearing Alpina livery, but neither of those is for sale – for now.


The story goes that an elderly man passed away and his son inherited the car to tackle as a restoration project; however, those plans never materialized, which isn’t all that uncommon. This particular W108 sedan looks like it has survived its dormant period largely unscathed, with an intact interior and decent-looking wood trim on the dash. Even the wrap on the steering wheel looks presentable. Of course, this era of Mercedes were known for their durable interior materials.


This 280SEL is equipped with the larger 4.5 M117 V8, churning out 225 b.h.p. This model always appealed to me because it still looks like it would make a great driver today. These older Benzes had to have been a hot ticket when new, as the power output remains respectable even now. The seller makes no mention of the engine’s maintenance history but does say it runs smoothly – hardly a surprise for a Mercedes motor of this vintage.


As a California vehicle, this 4.5 sedan has remained dry and free from major corrosion. Rust is said to be limited to surface-level only, so you can either sand it down and repaint or just live with it for now. All hubcaps are present and the tires are said to be in good shape. There is a reserve but based on some of the seller’s other listings, he doesn’t seem to have pie-in-the-sky expectations. What would you bid for this gold 280SEL? Be sure to leave some room in your offer for converting to the upgraded European lighting fixtures.


  1. Avatar photo Mark S

    Nice car it would be nice if there were more pic’s though. From what I can see a good detailing and a full service of mechanical parts followed by a trip to the body shop for paint in the original colour and you would have a very nice weekend cruiser. I remember having a match box car when I was a kid and have always liked this model of Benz.

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  2. Avatar photo Francisco

    The seller said he’s keeping the radio, so why the hell should I care if it works? Nice car though. Not worth $5,500 in this condition. Vintage Becker Mexico radios go for about $450.00 working.

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    • Avatar photo Jeff Staff

      Probably because the radio is the next thing he’s listing on eBay. ;-)

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Luke Fitzgerald

    money pit unless you’re a MB freak

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  4. Avatar photo Blyndgesser

    Rust is the question. These engines are very robust, but 11 mpg is a bit low for a daily driver.

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  5. Avatar photo MountainMan

    These are such solid cars and very well built. This would make a great car to drive, they feel nice on the road and have ample power. The V8 is pretty thirsty but this is one worth the cost of fuel it drinks. I would hope to pay no more than $3000 in this condition for this car. I have seen nice survivors in the $6,000-$9000 range and running, driving ones in decent shape for $5000 so lack of searching would be the only reason to pay $5500 for this. It looks ok overall but I just feel a better priced one could be had if somebody looked around a little

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  6. Avatar photo dj

    Pass on the Merc. I’ll take the Alpina.

    Like 0

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