Author Topic: 1971 280SE 3.5  (Read 9166 times)

pin2win

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1971 280SE 3.5
« on: June 20, 2016, 18:29:25 »
Hello everyone,

Just joined the site but have been reading up the past few months.  I recently came into possession of a European edition 1971 280SE 3.5 coupe (see pictures attached).  I'm  fairly young and don't know much about cars (at least compared to ya'll!), but I know I want to have this car restored as it was my grandfather's and has sentimental value to me. He purchased the car around 1980.  I was hoping a few of you more experienced guys could help me out with a few questions that I have.

  - As noted, it's a European edition. My grandfather indicated this was detrimental to the value of the car, is there truth to this? I couldn't find relevant information on pricing differences.
  - Were there any rare features on European editions that I should be looking for? Also, the odometer reads ~37,000... maybe silly but I assume this is kilometers given the speedometer is in kilometers?  I sent an email to the MB classic center for the original build sheet and will share when it arrives.
  - Does changing the color of the car (this one is white on blue leather if you can't tell) impact it's value when restored?  I like the white on blue and am inclined to keep it original, but must admit some of the other color combinations I've seen are beautiful.
  - And for the million dollar question, can anyone give me a ballpark guess on what a complete frame off restoration would be?  The car is badly rusted in a few spots, but I must say it's in better condition than I remembered.  Really wish I was more careful weedwacking around it as a kid!  ???  As I said, the car has sentimental value to me, but at the same time I'd like to be able to get my money out of it if I had to. At the end of the day the value and potential value once restored will influence what level of restoration I have done.

Any insight would be helpful. Thank you all and God bless!


 

mbpaul

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2016, 21:33:42 »
Although a lot of members know something about almost any Mercedes, for a non-113 car, you might get better responses on the MBWorld.com, Peach Parts forum, Mercedes Club of America forum or other MB forums.

First off, you really cannot do a frame off restoration.  The car has no frame; it is a unibody.  This terminology is used incorrectly quite often.  The more accurate term would be "ground up restoration".

There are several differences between the European version of this car and the USA version.  I think the biggest is that the European version has a 3.5 liter engine with a 4 speed automatic.  The USA version has a 4.5 liter engine with a 3 speed automatic.  Lots of other small differences but many parts are the same.  In the USA, the European parts availability is more limited although the Classic Center in Irvine, CA, can usually help with either.

I noticed the car has USA headlights so there may have been other modifications done to the car to get it registered in the USA.  You said the speedometer is in KPH but if it were registered in the USA, usually that would have been changed to MPH.  In any case, if the speedometer is in KPH, the odometer would usually be in kilometers.    You need to see what might have been done when the car was imported.

As far as restoration cost, especially with extensive rust repair, it is going to be quite high.  You would have a hard time ever selling the car at a price anyway near what it would cost to restore it.  The NADA Classic Car Guide gives an average retail of $7900 for a 1971 280SE.  I would be very surprised if you could restore it for twice that amount, probably a lot more if done properly.  Investigate what good paint jobs cost in your area along with what the rust repair would cost.  Go to GAHH.com to see the cost of upholstery.  Then talk to a mechanical repair shop and see how much it will cost to get it running again.  For any parts that need replacing, talk to the Classic Center, millermbz.com, budsbenz.com or many other places.  I thank you will be amazed at the costs.

If you change color correctly, it is more work than repainting with the same color.  You have to determine every place where the color is now and repaint those as well.  Just adds to the costs but can be done.

This is not to say that you could not get cheap rust repair and paint job for maybe a few hundred dollars and get seat covers to to cover the old leather but this is not a restoration.

Good luck.

pin2win

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2016, 22:32:39 »
Thank you for the insight, i'll be sure to check out the other forums.  I was not aware that the US version came in a 4.5 liter... thought that was the W108 chassis whereas this is a W111. To my knowledge there were no modifications made and I thought the headlights were Euro based on other photos I've seen and the fact they have wipers, but I'll have to do some further research.  I've attached a couple more photos, one which shows the speedometer in kilometers.

mbpaul

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2016, 00:04:21 »
I thought it was a sedan (I cannot read!) but since it is a 111 coupe, it could be worth a lot more lot more money.  I believe the 111 came with the 3.5 liter engine in both the European and USA versions.  NADA gives an average retail of $40,500 so you have a lot more to play with. Still, to restore it to original condition will cost a bunch.  But you might be able to get it so that it would be worth what you paid to restore it.  Other things remain the same.  Check everything before starting so that you do not get surprises later.

You might find more information here:

http://www.silverstarrestorations.com/111SE.htm




Tyler S.

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2016, 02:35:24 »
Think you should put air in the tires, get it moved from its current resting place and get it up off the ground to take a look at the undercarrage. Find someone local who can change the fluids, drain the fuel tank, and do a compression test etc. on it. Possibly get the engine running. Doing this first will give you a good baseline of what to expect.
If this works out, do the essentials like tires and brakes/lines. Drive it around a little bit before you commit.
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pin2win

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2016, 12:01:46 »
Data card attached, as well as email from the MB center decoding it.  Glad it has the floor shifter.. not sure if single seats means safari seats, so i'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of the backseat! Appreciate everyone taking a look.

Chassis number:                 111 026 12 004240
Engine number:                  116 980 12 005216
Transmission number:      008762
Exterior color code:           717 – papyrus white
Interior color code:           245 – blue leather
Option codes;
401     single seats
420     floor-shift
431     safety belts
462     rear fog lamp
541     halogen lamp unit
573     headrests, l&r
594     heat insulated glass
616     rear turn signal lamps, orange
630     radial-ply tires
249     heated rear pane
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 17:39:06 by pin2win »

Jonny B

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2016, 17:21:30 »
Would recommend you amend your post and delete the reference to the Key Code. That can be used to get a duplicate key for the car!
Jonny B
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pin2win

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2016, 17:27:20 »
Done, thanks for looking out!

Benz Dr.

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2016, 18:47:17 »
I'm thinking that a 3.5 coupe is worth more than 40K. A lot more.

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wwheeler

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2016, 01:46:58 »
Yea more like $100K restored and still climbing. Hopefully the lowly sixes will get dragged along in the coat tails.....
Wallace Wheeler
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'60 220SE W128 coupe
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pin2win

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2016, 13:56:55 »
I appreciate everyone taking a look at the car.  Unfortunately, I just heard back from a well-respected MB restorer in my area who looked through some of the photos I took and concluded that it's a parts car based on the severity of the rust damage shown in a few photos (see attached).  Not saying it can't be restored, but would cost over $200K to do so.  I still plan to have someone lift it up and take a look under the car to verify, but must admit i'm pessimistic at this point.

JPMOSE

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2016, 16:46:41 »
Hello,

I haven't piped in yet, but can certainly believe the restoration would be over 100K.  The parts are so expensive and any restoration shop will charge you retail for them to boot!   I have owned my W111 for 6 years this July and it was high 2/low 3 condition when I purchased it from a family friend.   Most of my friend couldn't imagine why I'd want to continue improving her, as I have no interest in showing Milly.  But, I knew I wanted to keep her for the long haul and invested in my D-Jetronic parts new (the early 3.5 (M116) engine have some different parts such as fuel pump, injectors, sensors, etc. that were rapidly becoming NLA,   I combed the Earth for some spares (even obtaining a couple parts in Egypt and South Africa)!!.   On that note, I further wanted to redo the wood ($2,300); carpet ($ 800 for Wilton Wool); new top and liner ($3,000).  The list goes on and on and adds up quickly.  Other than the top/liner installation (happening this summer), I've done most everything myself and obtained parts at almost wholesale prices.

I understand your passion for keeping a family treasure.  I had the same experience with my dad's 1956 Lincoln Coupe, but ended up selling her 13 years ago....honestly, I never looked back.   I'm sorry for you that the car isn't in better condition, but I think walking away would be prudent.   I would set a budget and invest in a Mercedes that can be obtained in excellent condition for that amount!   You will save a lot in the long run and you'll still have plenty to keep up with!   The 3.5 engine is a real pleasure and I enjoy driving Milly!  But I still work and it's hard to find the time for 3 classics.   My hopes are to drive them more often when I retire in 5-6 years.   

I would do my best to try and obtain a Southern car that is rust free.  This will save you a lot in the long run.   All the best to you!!!
Best Regards,

J. P. Mose
1968 250SL
1970 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
1987 560SL

JPMOSE

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2016, 16:49:30 »
One more thing......I see your headlights have the wiper system.  That is a very strange and rare find!   I have no idea what it is worth, but I'd would try and remove and clean up all the parts associated with it (plus see if the motors work).
Best Regards,

J. P. Mose
1968 250SL
1970 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
1987 560SL

Benz Dr.

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2016, 17:46:44 »
3.5 coupe parts are worth more than the same in a parts car. The problem with parting a car down is it takes time and some stuff you will never sell. They only made about 3,500 coupes/cabs so it's not a common car. Unless it's really rusty, I wouldn't cut it up though. I think everyone's estimate of value on a nice car is a bit low and it should be more like 150 K. Regardless of what it would take to restore this car, the market will overtake it in time. Look at 190SL's that have increased in value over 400% in just a few years. If you had a Cab I wouldn't part it down regardless of how rough it was.

Before you decide what to do, have someone take a good look at it. You can aid in this process by removing the floor carpets and anything that wouldn't be too hard to get out of the car. Aside from body work, the really costly stuff on this car is chrome, wood and interior. If your chrome isn't too rusty or wood all falling apart it might not be too bad. Remember, you have no cost to buy the car ( I assume ) so that can be deducted from the cost to restore.

I have a 3.5 coupe in similar condition and I plan to restore it. The engine runs and is rebuilt, I have NOS front fenders for it, so I see it as viable. And, I really like 111 coupes. 
1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
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cyne1

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2016, 18:33:12 »
I agree with Benz Dr.,Have another person take a good look at it. Rust may be your biggest problem,especially with that hole by top of the rear quarter panel...you never know how much water / moisture might be trapped in there. Hang in there

wwheeler

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2016, 02:44:24 »
I read an article a while back that the wiper washer system was mandatory in Finland??? Or something like that. That is a tough call and the more work you can do, the more money you will save. Keeping in mind to get top dollar, this work has to be done to a high degree.

FYI, I have a new, perfect driver's side coupe rear QTR panel with the MB stickers still on it. I didn't need it on my coupe and will sell it if you need it. And based on the pictures, you will.
Wallace Wheeler
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'60 220SE W128 coupe
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m300cab

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2016, 14:48:37 »
I restored 111 coupes  and cabriolet's in the past as well as 113's
in today's dollars a show car with engine rebuild can cost up to $100k
your engine and trani are probably ok
I used a shop in Hatboro PA for my restorations and I did a lot of work myself
I also used an interior shop in Moorestown NJ
if your handy you can do suspension, removal of interior, wood work and brake work yourself... as I did, you will save money
I spent $5500 on exterior chrome work back in 1999
if you need guidance, I will help
Michael Parlato

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2016, 23:07:44 »
Its a beautiful car and any 2 door benz from back then with those looks is worth fixing up.  If I had that car I would try and do the bulk of the work myself. I dont think you need to tear it down to nuts and bolts. Get it looking good. cut out the rust. (learn to mig weld etc). Its part of the journey. If you are totally useless at fixing things then thats another story and restoring it will be expensive if you pay for everything to be done by someone else. first goal is to get the engine running and turning over etc. go over the brakes, cleanout the gas tank turn over the engine. once you do that give it a paint job. you are lucky its white paint its a lot more forgiving. you can probably do a decent job at home with a HVLP paint gun. Most parts and paint I order online. Good luck.h
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Radu G

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2016, 14:33:31 »
Here is my story with restoring a W111 coupe.
I always dreamed of having a W111 cabriolet 3.5. By the time I could make the dream come true the prices went so high that I had to settle for a 250SE coupe. I found one close by in NH that had a partial restoration in 1990 and never touched since. It was painted in the original anthracite grey and had a new/rebuilt 230 engine transmission. My initial plan was to eventually transform it from a 111.021 to a 111.027 (I know, crazy).
Attached are 2 pictures from when I brought it home 09/2013 and 2 pictures from yesterday. It appears that all I did was to put chrome back on. And yet since then I worked on it almost all afternoons and weekends to the point of very pissed off wife. And I am not done yet, I still need to get correct leather interior and solve an annoying rocker noise.
I worked on: fuel tank (twice), fuel pump (still working on it), fuel lines, IP valves, IP adjustments, injectors, CSV, all other throttle adjustments, all of the electrical, temperature sender, fuel sender, all filters, wipers mechanism, heater core linkages, radio, instruments, horns, steering, suspension, springs (all, PITA), rear axle, all rubbers and it goes on and on.
I used to be frustrated with the high restored prices but now I know why. I consider myself lucky to have a solid engine and IP and no rust. I am getting attached to the coupe look so I may abandon the idea of making it convertible. I had it professionally polished and it looks so good that I will keep it grey.
As other people mentioned here rust and sheet metal work is the most serious factor, it is very time consuming. I know how to weld and I have welding equipment and yet I avoided anything that had rust.
From your posts it appears that you are not looking to do it yourself. If you do decide to part it out send me a PM and I will be there next day for parts. If you do decide to restore it I will be happy to help you through it.

perry113

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2016, 13:08:42 »
Here is my story with restoring a W111 coupe.
I always dreamed of having a W111 cabriolet 3.5. By the time I could make the dream come true the prices went so high that I had to settle for a 250SE coupe. I found one close by in NH that had a partial restoration in 1990 and never touched since. It was painted in the original anthracite grey and had a new/rebuilt 230 engine transmission. My initial plan was to eventually transform it from a 111.021 to a 111.027 (I know, crazy).
Attached are 2 pictures from when I brought it home 09/2013 and 2 pictures from yesterday. It appears that all I did was to put chrome back on. And yet since then I worked on it almost all afternoons and weekends to the point of very pissed off wife. And I am not done yet, I still need to get correct leather interior and solve an annoying rocker noise.
I worked on: fuel tank (twice), fuel pump (still working on it), fuel lines, IP valves, IP adjustments, injectors, CSV, all other throttle adjustments, all of the electrical, temperature sender, fuel sender, all filters, wipers mechanism, heater core linkages, radio, instruments, horns, steering, suspension, springs (all, PITA), rear axle, all rubbers and it goes on and on.
I used to be frustrated with the high restored prices but now I know why. I consider myself lucky to have a solid engine and IP and no rust. I am getting attached to the coupe look so I may abandon the idea of making it convertible. I had it professionally polished and it looks so good that I will keep it grey.
As other people mentioned here rust and sheet metal work is the most serious factor, it is very time consuming. I know how to weld and I have welding equipment and yet I avoided anything that had rust.
From your posts it appears that you are not looking to do it yourself. If you do decide to part it out send me a PM and I will be there next day for parts. If you do decide to restore it I will be happy to help you through it.

Thank you for sharing your story. That's a very nice coupe. You are wise to keep it a coupe and convert it to an open car. There is so much a coupe has that a cabriolet does not have. It that beautiful roof line with trimmed chrome surrounds and the rear opera window.

I understand all of the hard work you went through to get your car to where it is today. Nice job.

Peter Perry
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1972 911T Albert Blau
1963 220seb coupe barn
1965 230SL Light Ivory automatic
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1970 280SE living 3.5 donor car

280SEC

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2016, 19:04:38 »
Hello!

Nice fund, but i think the car is dead and not worth to be restored. My 280 has the same color combination, but white/blue is not frequently asked.

Greets


W111C registry

m300cab

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2016, 16:03:18 »
looks restorable
get a quote on rust repair
if your handy , you can do the brake system and tune up yourselft , and remove interior, drop off for reto then re-install etc etc
Michael Parlato

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2016, 02:54:23 »
I've had my 3.5 over twenty years and it is a very expensive car to restore.  Yours looks to be too far gone, sadly.

If you decide to part it out, please let me know as I'd be interested in a set of original steel wheels and hubcaps.

Jonathan B
Los Angeles, CA

Current fleet: 2003 Crown Victoria CNG; 1999 S420; 1995 E320 Wagon; 1971 280 SE 3.5 Coupe; 1970 Mustang; and 1966 230SL Euro

In Memoriam: 1983 Supra (stolen), 1975 250C (sold); and 1970 250 sedan (engine fire).

waqas

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2016, 06:27:02 »
I agree with others that restoration will be expensive, but this car comes with the emotional attachment that makes it more complicated. Further, the valuations > 50k are no exaggeration, and Dan's $150k estimate for a fully restored version is quite reasonable. The 3.5 coupe is certainly the most desirable w111 coupe-- much to my relief as it meant I could afford to purchase my 250se coupe at a reasonable price.

You can make it work if you're able to do the basics yourself and tightly manage the work that you farm out. Most sheetmetal is still available (see SLS). For example: floor/frame panels and rear deck panels and fenders. I myself am currently in the process of restoring my 230sl where I've done all the disassembly myself and with the help of friends. I plan to re-assemble it myself once the body is finished. Welding, stripping, painting and plating is all being outsourced individually, so I'm optimistic about the expense. The restoration costs of >$100k usually correspond to the situation where you hand over your car keys to a shop and wait for their phonecall saying it's ready.

I think you'll have a better idea if you can get it running and driving again. Then make a decision based on the rest. Ultimately, you don't need to make a show car; nothing wrong with a safe and solid driver. If you decide to bring it back to life, a fairly substantial commitment will be required: time for research, parts procurement, space for work and storage, stomach for dealing with difficult service providers, attention to detail, etc.

In any case, Dan is right about another thing: you'll be better off selling the whole car and not part it out. It's far more valuable like that, and I guarantee you that there are many around the world who would jump at a chance to restore this relatively rare car. Letting it go to an enthusiast, whilst keeping it complete and together, would be another way to preserve your grandfather's memory with the car. (as opposed to a million parts being sold and resold)

Regarding the km speedo: I've personally seen several examples of European pagodas that were imported in the 70s where the lighting was brought to US-DOT spec, but the speedometer was left in km. It's more common than people realize.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 07:05:39 by waqas »
Waqas (Wa-kaas) in Austin, Texas

Jimbo1907

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Re: 1971 280SE 3.5
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2016, 02:13:26 »
These are wonderful cars, and you have the best coupe they ever built in this series, but that car is VERY rusty. More than likely, there is plenty you can't see.

Even a condition #4 car is worth a lot of money. (depending on what you call a "lot") What you might do is call Roy Spencer at MercedesHeritage.com and ask him about selling it. He also has a number of nice 220SE coupes which are usable nice driver cars, so perhaps a trade could be made in some way. (my idea, not his, btw)

These cars were all 3.5 engines and 4-speed automatics, although a few were fitted with 4.5 engines back in the day if the original broke beyond repair.

I think this car IS worth restoring. Unless you find a shop where the labor rate is very low, it will cost you quite a bit- I would imagine 200K all in. But it's hard to restore anything for less than that- parts for 111s aren't easy to find and there is a lot of labor involved.

Mind you, it is worth it. They are very fine cars. I am fortunate enough to have one, it is a beautiful automobile.