Our friends at UK based Octane Magazine are always on the lookout for under appreciated and undervalued classics. March’s issue contains an article by Dave Selby touting the 280SE 3.5 sedan, a car the US received as a 4.5 liter. According to Dave, “it’s one of the most tasteful Mercs” and “has to be one of the most subtle ‘Q-cars’ around.” (The Q-car moniker arose from Britain’s practice during WW2 of operating military ships disguised as passenger and commercial vessels.) Of course the ultimate Mercedes Q-car would be the complicated and finicky 6.3.
Looking over the elegant fascia of a 4.5 SE, we see lovely wood, power windows, AC and a roomy cabin. Buying an example with a near-perfect interior is a must. Restorations costs mirror that of the same era high value coupes and cabriolets.
Rear seat legroom in the short wheelbase SE is not expansive but adequate. This example is fitted with the rich cognac MB tex. Interior reflects a straightforward design ethic combined with tautly constructed high quality materials.
The point here is a healthy 280SE 3.5 – or for us in the US the 4.5 – is a quick practical understated sedan. You receive most of the build quality of the sexier coupes/cabriolets for a fraction of the cost. We couldn’t agree with Octane more. Of course, we’ve been devoted 108 promoters for years and have prepared and sold dozens of examples.
Dave sums it up noting, “Here’s a car you’d be proud to NOT be recognized in, which is all the better considering it could top 125mph and whisk you to 60mph in under 9 seconds.” If that’s your style, be sure to give the 280SE 4.5 a look when you consider a low cost entry into the collectible Mercedes-Benz world.
roy spencer/editor mercedesheritage