1971 Mercedes Benz 280S

If colour combo is eighty percent of a classic’s appeal, then this 1971 280S in cream and red leather is just right.

Original, well-preserved and unrestored, this 280S manual must be seen and driven to be appreciated. Only the two front mudguards and back left door bottom section have been repainted, the rest is original. The original key fits everything. Amazingly, the underside of the bonnet still looks close to new, and the engine bay still has its original battery clamp and distributor cover, coil covers, and concertina air filter duct – imperfect but intact. The engine and bay could be pimped to look like new because everything is original, untouched, and in good condition.

Irritatingly, LYZ has no service record so it’s impossible to tell whether she has done 150 000km or 250 000km but the relatively quiet (for a W108!) diff at speed may point to the 150 000km option. She doesn’t use a drop of water or oil, and goes like the clappers. Even the late great Benz tuner Friso (who did LYZ’s last full service two months ago), kept saying to me: “Jong, die Benz loop goed!”

The manual floor shift is the best option for the S, and LYZ naturally finds herself in the right-hand lane on the highway, with surprisingly good economy. The clutch, gearbox and power steering all feel like pouring cream.

Her first owner was apparently doctor in Germiston who owned her until he passed away a few years ago. He must have had dogs or something, so I had no choice but to do new leather, which was a commissioned small order from the world-class Hannitan Leather in Springs. The new color-matched red leather is of the very highest quality and feels and smells glorious. With the special diamond perforations, within a year or two of use only an expert would be able to tell that it is not original.

The Becker radio isn’t exactly period correct but looks the part and plays “Radio Sonder Grense” with crystal clarity through speakers front and back. Am too scared to push the buttons.

LYZ has a full length stainless steel exhaust of the correct diameter (maybe also contributing to the performance?) which sounds glorious with her straight six engine. Below, she also has new control arms, good quality shocks, and new sub frame rubbers. Her Dunlops are relatively new, as is the Willard battery. She has just had a new master cylinder and brand new brake pads all round. Stops on a tickey (four disks of course on these). Fuel tank was done, and she has a new mechanical fuel pump (the old one was leaking oil).

Faults: There’s a soft “cluck” of some sort in the front suspension from time to time that should be attended to; and the interior fan and (time) clock don’t work.

LYZ has been described as an “honest” car, and would best be a daily driver that can also wow ’em on show day. A reluctant sale, but not a forced sale, so hopefully you know what that means! Collectors only, please. We need to look after and keep improving these old girls,

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