280SE Coupe 3.5 - manual 4-speed - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
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280SE Coupe 3.5 - manual 4-speed

This car has Euro specs - and a four-speed manual transmission. I have only driven the auto with US spec (less power). Is anyone familiar with the Euro car, and if so, how do they compare? I don't know what the final drive ratio is, but that's easily remidied.

Thank you
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 08:07 AM
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You won't find many of them. I found one in California about five years ago (black/black) and ended up passing on the car due to rust issues.

What I can tell you is that my Euro 280E with a 5-speed is a blast to drive and is a hell of a lot faster than the US version. So, "how do they compare?" The Euro will be more fun to drive and faster. If it's a good/clean car, and you'd like to own an older MB, buy it. Sounds like fun.

- Brian

1989 500SEL ECE
1966 Mercedes 250SE Cabriolet
1958 BMW Isetta 600
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 09:06 AM
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Wow! I think owning a 280SE 3.5 Coupe with a 4 speed manual tranny would be a wonderful experience...regardless of the rear-end ratio! Enjoy!

Jim, Tulsa, OK (Member MBCA - Eastern Oklahoma Section)
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 12:58 PM
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3.5 Manual trans

I have a 3.5 4speed coupe. I have never driven another so I can't compare to auto. I set out to specifically find a stick shift car when I bought mine because I like stick shifts. I found the 3.69 axle to be geared really low so I installed a 3.27 axle. That with the 16" wheels puts the 60mph rpm's at 2500 but still plenty of power.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 01:38 PM
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The Autotrans is better to drive,US only had the aenemic 3 speed auto but the rest of the world got a reasonable fouir speed auto which makes a 3.5 faster acelerating than a four speed manual.
The manual trans is no slick shifting close ratio box but is in fact the same box as fitted to the fintail diesel taxi's in Europe.
From what I understand, Mercedes sold 97.5% of it's earlier cars with auto's .
I have always found the manual trans cars to be a pig to drive,( I had a new manual 280 in 1972) and the "sporty pretensions" of a manual trans are just that.."pretensions". (:-) )
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 07:33 PM
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that's not correct. The 3.5s all had 4-speed automatics until the 1973 models came along. The actual cut-off is something like #1640 for the 350slc. The W111 cars are all pre-1973, so all 3.5 W111 cars with automatics have the 4-speed.

The 4.5l cars, most of which came to the US, had the 3-speed transmission.
The four speed isn't that much better, when you consider that the transmission started in 2nd most of the time. You could treat yourself to some cool neck trauma by getting it to start in 1st.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2007, 10:08 AM
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Was this 4 speed tranny the same one in 114's? I remember my 280C had an extremely low gear, in which I couldn't go more than 10mph flat out...
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2007, 03:46 PM
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Same basic idea. That's why most people don't even notice it's there.
I believe 1st gear redlines the engine at or about 25mph. Look for the spot on the old speedometers with one little yellow bar.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2007, 03:47 PM
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Oh, and there's a rusty example on ebay for 12,000$ right now. Not worth it. -CTH
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-09-2007, 01:54 PM
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I have a Eurospec 4sp 250SE (with a 280SE engine)... and I strongly prefer it to any of the automatcs I've driven. It's stunning to me that they used the low axles (maybe to make the automatics more lively?) and that indeed makes the manual a bit mismatched. 1st is too low and shifting into 3rd as a passing gear makes more noise than speed. I swapped in a 4.5 axle to mine and the car is wonderful with it... makes the transmission "right" in every gear. Best modifcation I've done to the car (2nd was a set of higher rate progressive springs...)

I agree the transmission isn't particularly "sporting", but the car is much more engaging to drive than a similar one with a slushbox... even a wonderful slushbox like Mercedes offered.

The only think I could think of to improve my car? More power. So a 3.5 V8 with a manual sounds like an awesome combination...

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