Amazing History:

1970 Mercedes-Benz
280SEL "Lang" Sedan

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There is no doubt that today's Mercedes-Benz automobiles are refined means of personal transportation.



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They are sleek, aerodynamic, but lack the unique character and old-world build quality and ambiance that made their W108/W109 predecessors of the late '60s and early '70s so famous.

With just 8,250 examples manufactured between 1968 and 1970, Mercedes' 280SEL Lang (long) executive sedan is a coveted collector's item today. The wonderful example shown here comes with a full pedigree, which we'll further illuminate below.

Purchased brand new on April 29th, 1970 at Mercedes-Benz of Boise, Idaho by Mrs. Ethel C. Chapman, wealthy president and owner of the famous department store "Mode Ltd," this smart-looking long wheelbase Daimler was always chauffeur-driven.

After Mrs. Chapman's retirement from the business, the car was used rather sporadically. Having covered less than 40K miles at the time of her passing in 1988 at the age of 94, it remained in the family under the loving care of her daughter and son-in-law, who split their time between the Park View Apartments in Boise and a posh Hyde Street penthouse in downtown San Francisco, Calif.

The factory-supplied books and manuals, as well as a 4-inch-thick ring binder containing more than 100 receipts for parts and maintenance, chronologically kept in clear sheet protectors, accompany the car.
These records add up to the staggering sum of $54,834.46. On average, about $2,000 was spent on annual upkeep. Major items listed include a top end rebuild, A/C and brake work as needed, and assorted improvements to suspension and steering.

This neat Excel file establishes the when, where and how much? and also shows the car's mileage progression very nicely.
To claim that this Daimler always received the best of care, regardless of cost, would be quite an understatement!

SEL's engine compartment is as clean as a whistle, housing Mercedes' vaunted M130 SOHC straight six, 160hp power plant, featuring the reliable stage two BOSCH mechanical fuel injection.
You might notice a few small dings on the driver's side inner fender, reminders of an unfortunate incident on the busy streets of San Francisco; a truck backed up into Mr. Cooney's innocently parked pride and joy, causing about $4,800 worth of damage, which was expertly repaired by European Motors, Ltd.

Having always been serviced with no regard to cost, the Benz's mechanical aspects leave a most favorable impression. This car is ready to be driven anywhere, without worries.

Clean and dry underneath, too, just as we like it!

The extended wheelbase W108 "SEL" model is of a truly imposing appearance. The smooth coachwork appears corrosion free. Door and hood gaps are very good, brightwork is shiny, weatherstripping intact.

Highly glossy Dark Tobacco Brown, (factory code #423) paint finish has remained in very appealing condition throughout. Apart from the unavoidable, small signs of use and age, it's devoid of any dings, dents, scratches, or bubbles that would cause an enthusiast sleepless nights.

Factory 14" steel wheels, topped with the classic, stainless M-B full wheel covers are fitted with 195/75R14 narrow whitewall radial tires.

The SEL's wheelbase was extended by 115 millimeters over the regular SE body, lending the car a limousine-like flair.

The combination of fine leather, wood and Feintuft wool carpeting creates an ambiance of luxury that has to be experienced. Since this car has been driven less than 2,300 miles annually, on average, and nobody ever smoked a cigarette or even ate a cookie inside, the past 49 years have nary left a trace.

Beautifully designed VDO gauges. The dash top looks stunning, free of any unsightly splits or hairline cracks.

Zebrano wood is in excellent condition. The various components like the BECKER stereo and the A/C unit appear immaculately preserved.

The car's original owner was born in 1894, her son, the subsequent caretaker, in 1922. Yes, this fine Mercedes was cherished and gently driven by conscientious senior citizens, and it shows.
Note power window switches on the center console.

Beautifully luxurious, original "Bamboo" leather -- not MB-Tex -- upholstery has survived the past half century in admirable condition.

There are two areas that show some wear in this leather interior: the top of the driver's armrest, and the r/h panel of the rear seat cushion. Both should be rather easy to remedy.

Extra-spacious passenger compartment.

The embossed, tan-colored headliner and matching sun visors look to be well cared for; there's a bit of shrinkage near the rear window.

Still an awe-inspiring view: Mercedes' formal and elegant rear. Brightwork presents itself in an excellent state of preservation. That thick, German chrome is virtually irreplaceable today!

Huge trunk features the original rubber mat. It is clean, dry and free of corrosion. Spare and jack are in place.


Undercarriage is rust free, as dry and clean as you would expect it from a car that has been well protected all its life and has never spent a night outside. The many refurbished and new suspension components are easy to spot.

Perfect floors!

Thursday, May 2nd was another sunny, warm day in Ventura. We thoroughly enjoyed cruising around in the big Benz while taking many photos and even a couple of videos.

The SEL starts, idles, runs, drives, handles and stops as you'd expect it from a well-kept Mercedes. There are no rattles or any other untoward noises. Everything works as it should, including the A/C and the original BECKER Europa radio. Power and roadholding are superb for a car of its vintage. Looking down the long hood at the chromed, tri-pointed star never gets old.

Returning home, we are in awe of the Chapman family and their dedication to keeping the impressive four-door in tip-top condition. Yes, the car's a classic now, but it's one you can get in and actually drive every day, if so desired.

With its fabulous provenance, the extensive service records, rare SEL-spec and desirable color combination, this W108 sedan a substantial, very collectible Daimler-Benz automobile you'd be proud to have in your collection.

Walk around.

Good times.


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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.