1970 Mercedes-Benz S-Class


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The 280 SE Sedan presented here, finished in Horizon Blue (DB 304), is a true standout from most of the 383,699 W108-series sedans built in total. This is not only due to the high regard its owner for nearly 50 years, Benjamin Lee, so obviously held it in, but also for the scope of the volume of records and keepsakes he assembled throughout his life with the car. Mr. Lee placed the order for his new Mercedes-Benz to be built in mid-1970, taking advantage of the factory’s then-popular European Delivery Program.

Upon taking delivery of his new Mercedes-Benz, outfitted with German oval tourist plates and a USA sticker, Mr. Lee enjoyed the car on European roads; original maps of his journey and souvenirs from his stops are preserved in the file. He asked that the “Tourist Car” sticker, essentially an internal factory notice, not be removed, and it remains on the 280 SE’s original windshield to this day, a rarity little known to even Mercedes-Benz Classic Center veteran employees. Spare parts including original spark plugs, a fan belt, and even worn brake pads were retained. Mr. Lee used the car as his personal transport to the Navy base in China Lake, California, where he worked for 41 years, having garages for his prized Mercedes at each end of his commute.

In 1987, the sedan was retired from daily use showing some 88,000 miles and has been driven only about 1,000 miles since that time. In 2019, following Mr. Lee’s passing, a neighbor and family friend acquired the Mercedes-Benz from Mr. Lee’s sons and set about returning it to service, being mindful not to disturb the original character of the car’s components. In mid-2020, the 280 SE was acquired by the consignor, who commenced a reverent detailing process, restoring luster to the paint, and carefully cleaning the undercarriage and numerous mechanical parts.

Today, the 280 SE appears in amazingly well-preserved, original condition; after close examination, the consignor believes that no paintwork has been necessary, and he states that the interior appears essentially unmarked. The doors close with the expected, satisfying ease and the panel gaps appear wonderfully straight. This truly remarkable 280 SE is sure to provide many years of further enjoyment – possibly as a concours preservation-class contender – and is ready to imbue its next owner with the pride of ownership Mr. Lee must have felt when he first drove it off the factory grounds over 50 years ago. Your close inspection is encouraged.