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V.I.S.I.T. – Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4.5 W108

Jay Ramey January 23, 2013 V.I.S.I.T. - Vehicles I Saw In Traffic 16 Comments

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When is it too cold and slushy to take your classic out? For some owners it’s never, apparently. I spotted this W108 280SE 4.5 not too long ago on Connecticut’s salty roads after a major snowstorm, looking rather smug sitting on Nokian Hakkapeliitta 2 winter tires. Clearly, some classics are better able to handle such conditions than others. For instance, you would never see a classic Alfa Romeo, even some unloved Alfetta sedan, being driven on the interstate behind a salting truck.  But this Benz seems to be made of stronger stuff.

This example appeared to be in much better than driver condition, and if I had the time to examine it closer, it would have probably appeared closer to club concours condition than anything else. Some of you will recall that the W108 and W109 didn’t stay in production for very long, only being made from 1965 till 1972.  And the W108 seen here only gained the 4.5 liter engine in 1971, which was available for less than twenty four months until the model was replaced by the W116 in November of 1972.

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Unlike the W116 the W108 arguably has a claim to being considered a true classic, as the W116s stateside were not especially babied. In fact, most of the W116s that I see at shows have relatively high mileage, and had invariably been restored following a hard life. The W108, on the other hand, comes from a time when Mercedes-Ben cars were still bought and kept as heirlooms, and I’m starting to see more and more of these restored examples at shows. The only place where I am not starting to see show-quality W108s are trains station parking lots in Connecticut in the middle of the friggin’ winter, which made this sighting quite surprising.

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What’s the last classic car you saw being driven “out of season”?

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    I saw a mint looking Delta Integrale the other day, passed me coming the other way. It was something around -15°C so no fresh salt, just ice and snow.

  • mcflipper

    I'll bet that's the same car I see parked at Metro North's Fleetwood station. Every time I see it, I wonder who owns it—they have to be at least kind of cool.

    • Jay_Ramey

      You're not too far off, I saw this car in New Canaan.

  • Vavon

    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TBgXIxcSVfM/T_NQGpjO2dI/AAAAAAAAE9Y/k15zPAjl9sc/s1600/jojo1.jpg&quot; width="650/">
    One of these. It wasn't the last I saw, but definitely the oldest and most memorable.
    The best bit was that the elderly gentleman was driving it pretty swiftly!
    Not as fast as these guys, but he was definitely no slouch!

    Now here's a little game:

    1. Name the car.
    2. Name the similar looking Russian car.
    3. Name the similar looking Swedish car.
    4. Name the American car that probably inspired all of these.

    Full disclosure: I have no idea what the answer to question number 4 is!

  • I saw a 280SE similar to this last weekend, but on some ugly ghetto 17" chrome wheels. I had a sad.

  • Van_Sarockin

    4.5? You have my full and complete attention.

  • Sam

    I use to drive my 1987 Saab 900 Turbo year round, technically it was an antique, that is until I totaled it.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      Well, fellow Sam, I managed to sell my oldest car a year before she became an antique, and my current driver has a few years to go. I'll grant you that terminology, though.

  • mr. Smee

    In a couple hours I'll get in my mint-condition '90 Cressida and venture out into -20C and 3-inches of fresh snow. Is it a classic? Some say yes, some say no, all I know is I love to drive it so I'm going to drive it.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      This is what I say about my Volvo 244. Classic design, but she's a '93, so she's no antique. Yet.

      <img src="http://i.imgur.com/IDdoNAP.jpg&quot; width=600>

      • Jay_Ramey

        But it is "Classic" since its a '93, though : )

  • Good god I want a W108 so bad…