Germanic Masterpiece:

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE
W111 Sunroof Coupe!

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One of the most esoteric and admired post-war Mercedes automobiles is the 280SE W111 "Low Grille" Coupe.



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The W111 coupes and convertibles, manufactured between 1961 and 1971, were Mercedes' last, entirely hand-built automobiles. Of the 280SE W111, a mere 25 coupes rolled off the production line per week. Squarely placed in Rolls Royce Corniche territory, the W111 was, and will always be, an amazing motorcar, aimed at those able to afford the best car money could buy.

Excellent original or competently restored Flachkühler Coupes are solidly placed in six-figure territory now. Finding a good and solid, yet affordable, driver that doesn't need an expensive restoration has become very difficult.
Well, here's one!

Manufactured in November of 1969, this European-market example was imported and federalized by none other than the legendary Kent Emigh, proprietor of Auto Sport, Ltd. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Mr. Emigh, now almost 90 years old, is considered to be the last surviving Mercedes Benz "U.S. foreign agent" of the post-WWII period.

More information can be gleaned from the id and data tags affixed to the radiator support.

Power comes from the fabulous 2.8-Liter M130 SOHC engine, featuring seven main bearings and being fed by Bosch mechanical fuel injection to produce 160 hp.

This particular engine is as healthy as the proverbial ox. It starts on the button and runs like a Singer sewing machine. It doesn't leak or smoke; there are no untoward noises nor any other niggly issues to report. Although being a Euro-spec SE, this car is fitted with power disc brakes (on all four wheels) and power steering.

The automatic transmission was fully rebuilt just recently. It shifts perfectly.

The incarnation of timeless taste and elegance!
Based on Ingenieur Rudolf Uhlenhaut's late 1950s ideas, the first Coupe bearing the unmistakable, elegant SE(b) lines was introduced in September of 1960, at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Almost 58 years later, its design is as attractive as ever.

This particular car, while pleasing to behold, isn't a virgin. Originally dark blue (code 904), it has worn its current livery for many, many years. There are traces of a repaired rear end impact as well as some body filler in isolated spots. The paint, though still very glossy, shows a multitude of small imperfections. Nonetheless, the car can happily be enjoyed "as is" - or be a worthy object for a sensible cosmetic refurbishment, sometime down the line.

Let the sunshine in!
Electric sunroof works perfectly. Factory headliner is in good condition throughout.

Stunningly beautiful dash of the W111 presents well, with the wooden windshield surround showing the usual signs of age. Note the very desirable Mittelschaltung (console shifter), factory option # 426.

Some neat details.

Black MB Tex/leather upholstery is perfectly useable as it presents itself today, with no rips or tears to report. We'd leave the interior as it is; perfectionists might want to spring for fresh leather covers.

Very comfy and only slightly patinated: the 280SE's classic bucket seats.

Spacious rear accommodations. This Daimler provides high style travel for up to five adults.

Euopean taillights and European bumpers without the ugly U.S. overrider bars characterize the Coupe's rear view. The car's ample brightwork is in very good to excellent condition throughout.

The 280SE Coupe sports a huge luggage compartment. Trunk floor looks very solid.


Underbody of this long-time California resident appears dry and tidy. It shows uniform, thin undercoating, with just a few spots in evidence that may have seen previous work performed. There are some new parts present, such as muffler, fuel pump, and suspension bushings.

More undercarriage details.

Test driving and photographing the car on March 26, a beautiful, sunny Southern California spring day, was a real pleasure.

The Mercedes starts, idles, runs, drives, shifts, handles, steers and stops as its engineers intended. It is fully capable of participating in today's often hectic traffic and easily masters any type of road you can throw at it.

The SE's cockpit is a majestic place to be and to be seen, indeed. All lights work as they should; speedometer and odometer still feature kilometer readings.

Beautiful to behold -- from all angles. Virtually indistinguishable from the ultra-coveted M-B three-point-five Coupe, this 280SE Flachkühler Coupe might be a real find for the savvy enthusiast.

With power steering and disc brakes, as well as Mittelschaltung and electric sunroof, this great example is superbly equipped. Try to find another one like it at this price point; you'll quickly see that it might just be impossible.
From a collector's standpoint, the future looks bright for the W111 series cars. Especially for the rare "Low Grilles," manufactured during the waning years of Daimler-Benz's commitment to making cars by hand, there'll always be a sellers' market.


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You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to bill@californiaclassix.com or call us at 805-653-5551.