The super-luxurious Mercedes Benz 280 SE 3.5 made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1969, once again stamping the Stuttgart based car manufacturing giant’s authority as they advanced their march towards major international status by presenting the world’s first V-powered sports car.

Mercedes once again offered two versions of the 280SE, a coupe, and a cabriolet, with both the models, more by design than by accident, bearing a strong resemblance to the 220 SE launched way back in of 1961 on which it was unabashedly based.

A sure sign that Mercedes were confident of their strong standings in the market was their ability to launch a model that reverberated solidity at a time when similar level sports cruisers and soft tops coming out of Europe, especially Italy, as well as the US were becoming increasingly exotic in design.

Although it could be admitted that the 280SL was lagging slightly behind in design, it was ahead of its time when it came to technology and power.

Car buyers in the know were well aware that the real innovation was found beneath the bonnet, where the most advanced engine ever produced by Mercedes nestled.

This brand-new V8 engine had a cast-iron block with an aluminum head that hardly weighed more than the standard Mercedes six-cylinder engine but gave the 280 SE rapid acceleration and an impressive top speed.

Thanks to its six-cylinder 2,778 cc (2.8 L) M130 engine, the Mercedes-Benz 280SL could reach a top speed of 195 km/h thanks to its ability to generate 195 bhp of pulling power.

The 280SE came with a four-speed automatic transmission as standard operated through a nifty column change.

For those who still preferred the hands-on approach, manual transmission was also available but as an optional extra.

Manual transmission fitted on the 280SE was a 5-speed, produced for Mercedes by ZF Electronics GmbH.

The automatic option proved to be a popular one, with less than 20% of the twenty thousand plus 280s produced fitted with a manual gearbox.

Other technical updates found in the Mercedes Benz 280SE, in keeping with the times, included transistorized ignition, three-phase generator, a Bosch electronic fuel injection system, air conditioning, electrically operated windows and the latest state of the art stereo and radio system from Becker.

The 280’s

interior trim, as you would expect, was of the highest standard with the accent on high-quality wood trim and the softest and most supple hide upholstery.

All of these comfort perks meant that the 280 came with a hefty price tag and that Mercedes never expected the 280 to be a volume seller.

The few thousand models that were sold have remained in heavy demand as collector's pieces to this day.

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