ldshull - 1/12/2006 1:52 PM
I'm a newbie and love the 1968-1973 280's. Does anyone have advice and/or an opinion on which one(s) to avoid and/or what might be better as far as parts etc. 6 cylinder? 8 cylinder? etc.
I'm currently looking at a 1973 280SEL 4.5 to buy.
The late 60s/early 70s large sedans existed in two main versions: the W108 and W109 chassis.
The W108 came with four engine options: 2.5L I-6 with a carb, 2.8L I-6 with a carb, 2.8L I6 with FI, and a 4.5L V8 FI.
It was available in both SWB and LWB versions, although the 2.5L was only sold in the SWB.
Thus, the W108 models were the 250S, 280S, 280SE, 280SEL, 280SE 4.5, 280SEL 4.5. In addition to the trunk, you can tell them by the VIN, whose first digits would be 108.012, 108.016, 108.018, 108.019, 108.067 and 108.068 respectively.
The W109 chassis was similar, except those cars were LWB only and featured an air suspension as standard. All W109s were called 300SEL, even though none had a 3L engine. They were three V8s, sized 3.5L, 4.5L and 6.3L, and 1 6cyl, sized 2.8L. Again, in addition to the trunk, the VIN will tell you which it is, which would be 109.056, 109.057, 109.018, and 109.016.
My best advice to you is get the absolute nicest one you can possibly afford. In my experience, you very much get what you pay for with these cars, so trying to save a buck up front is usually unwise.
Many of these cars by now have rust issues, inoperative A/C systems, electrical gremlins etc. So, a good PPI is essential.
The W109s tend to suffer from poorly maintained air suspensions, these are very pricey to repair.
As for which one to buy, I would either go with a nice clean 6cyl specimen or a well kept W109, like this one, for instance: