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The Gold Standard: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4-Speed Manual

With the exception of the rare and beastly 450sel 6.9 we featured here two weeks ago, the W116 S-class chassis has never been considered “sporty” by any stretch. However, as this unique example shows, the myriad of options and variants available for the W116 allowed buyers to custom order their cars in a spec ranging from a top-of-the-line limousine style luxury barge, to something much sportier (and unique). Seen here on Facebook Marketplace out of Tuscon, AZ, and showing 133,000km (82k miles) this short-wheelbase sedan comes equipped with options that render it nothing less than Solid Gold.

The most obvious feature of this particular example is its pitch-perfect 1970’s era factory paint in “Ikon Gold Metallic” (419). Deeper and bolder than the “Champagne Metallic” offered by Mercedes on the W126 and W123 chassis in the 1980s, this color is anything but subtle and the perfect pairing for “sporty shorty” s-class of the late 1970s. In addition to the statement-making paint choice, this european example comes equipped with the requisite european bumpers/headlights as well as what appears to be an AMG-style front chin spoiler. Unfortunately, no photos of the rear are visible in the ad to see if the AMG-style bodywork continues around back.

Inside, this example features two-tone cloth/vinyl seats that appear to be factory-optioned, as well as a period-specific RAID steering wheel, wood manual shifter knob and, gulp, no air conditioning (because racecar?). Everything seems to be unapologetically era correct: Even the ELF decal on the airbox looks appropriate, but I'm sure the seller would rather you ignore the Red Bull can masquerading as a catch can/fuel filter on the driver’s side of the engine bay!

But the unique options on this car don’t stop at the cosmetic level: This short-wheelbase example is powered by the punchy inline six-cylinder M110 which, in the european variant featured here, offers 182 bhp (40 more than the US-spec engines) and 176 ft-lbs of torque (over the US-spec’s 149 ft-lbs). That extra euro-spec power is delivered through a rare, four-speed manual transmission that launches all 3,600 lbs at a healthier clip than its underpowered US-spec counterparts with the automatic transmission.

Notably, this very same car seems to have been featured in a bringatrailer classified listing from 2014 where it was listed for only $12,000 and claims of a misbehaving fuel injection system. That being said, if the fuel system has been sorted, the market value of unique, manual Mercedes (even for the W116) has certainly not dropped in the past six years; thus making this a car potentially good buy.

All in all this is a very unique and fun variant of the venerable W116 that, for buyers in temperate climates that can survive without A/C, should be a solid gold buy at this price.



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