Classifieds Hero: Lulu’s Mercedes-Benz 280SE

A great-looking machine with musical provenance, this highly specced V8-powered coupé is up for sale right now

If you don’t know Mercedes-Benz, then all the confusing nomenclature may put you off. So let’s simplify it – this is the highly desirable W111 coupé version of the venerable W108 saloon, and it has the equally desirable 3.5-litre V8 engine.

There, done. Except this particular model’s first owner was singer Lulu, real name Marie Gibb, in whose name the Mercedes-Benz was registered on July 29, 1971. She sold it in 1976, but when reunited with it a few years ago she exclaimed: ‘This is the best car I ever owned!’

The 280SE’s current owner is well known car and automobilia enthusiast Stewart Imber, whose remarkable collection is delved into every year to create the period garages at the Goodwood Revival. He bought the Mercedes-Benz on December 3, 1981, and has used and cherished it ever since.

Stewart has always had the 280SE looked after by well known specialist Schmitt Motors Ltd, and has all the paperwork to prove it. The garage has just serviced the Mercedes-Benz ready to sell – Stewart is selling off much of his collection, and this cherished coupé is one of the last to go.

What also makes this car unusual is that is has the rare factory-original Behr air-conditioning unit, although Stewart says it’s in need of updating. The 280SE also has a Becker Mexico stereo, electric sunroof and all-electric windows. Stewart’s very keen to point out that although it’s a well loved vehicle, it is absolutely not concours, just ‘a genuine car in great condition’.

The model itself derives from the famous Paul Bracq redesign of the classic Mercedes-Benz saloon, which rid the car of its dated tail fins, lowered its stance and increased the glass area. Initially the only V8 option was the 6.3, but that was thirsty, and with an increasing market in the V8-friendly USA, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 3.5-litre unit – the engine fitted to Stewart’s car.

The single-overhead-cam 3.5 V8 came with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection, and produced 200bhp at 5800rpm. Its specification was advanced for its time, with disc brakes front and rear, and a hydro-pneumatic compensating spring on the back suspension. The air-suspension of the 6.3 and the long-wheelbase models wasn’t adopted on the 3.5s, which is probably a good thing nowadays, simplifying the maintenance needed.

You can see the car advertised here.

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