The 3.5-litre version of the 280 SE saloon typifies the resurgence of larger-engined Mercedes-Benz models that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the progressive easing of fiscal constraints, which had dissuaded customers from buying cars with large capacity engines, encouraged the German manufacturer to offer bigger, more potent power units. Mercedes-Benz's new 3.5-litre V8 engine had debuted at the 1969 Frankfurt Show in the 280 SE coupé/convertible and the 300 SEL saloon. An over-square design featuring a cast-iron block and aluminium-alloy cylinder heads, each equipped with a single overhead camshaft, this all-new, state-of-the-art M116 power unit produced 200bhp (DIN) at 5,800rpm courtesy of Bosch electronic fuel injection and transistorised ignition. This was some 40 horsepower more than those models' existing 2.8-litre six, so performance was greatly increased.
From 1971 the new V8 was available in the 280 SE saloon, the marriage resulting in a fast and well equipped 'Gentleman's Express' combining 125mph (200km/h) performance with considerable luxury. Running gear was pretty much state-of-the-art from the time, consisting of independent suspension all round and four-wheel dual-circuit disc brakes. One of the rarer mass-produced Mercedes-Benz saloons - a little over 11,000 being built between March 1971 and September 1972 - the 280 SE 3.5 is today much sought-after by discerning collectors.
An automatic transmission model, this 280 SE 3.5 saloon has had four owners in total and has belonged to the current vendor since January 2017. Registered as '124 AH' between 1984 and 2010, it has been reunited with its original registration, 'FKA 114L'. The car is finished in blue with tan interior, and is described by the private vendor as in generally good condition having covered only 56,730 miles from new. Freshly MoT'd, this rare and supremely elegant Mercedes-Benz is offered with its original wallet and handbooks, an original brochure, sundry invoices, a V5C document, and a historic 1972 tax disc.