1979 Mercedes 280SE

About the 1979 Mercedes 280SE

The 280SE is an S-Class of the W116 range (1972-1980).   The W116 was the first car referred to the S-Class by Mercedes-Benz, although previous models like the W108 still filled that spot in the line up.   The 280SE is a short wheelbase model equipped with the M110 dual overhead cam inline six engine.  The M110 is probably the toughest petrol engine ever produced by Mercedes-Benz.

The 1979 Mercedes 280SE was the entry level S-Class offered in Australia.   The 280S having been dropped from the line up for the 1976 model year after the ADR27A emissions restrictions came in.   As well as the 280SE, buyers could also opt for the 280SEL, 450SE and SEL and the 450SEL 6.9.    For more details about the W116 in Australia, please see this article.

About this car

This 280SE was sold new to the Greek Consulate in Sydney.   It went through two owners in Sydney, before moving to a long term owner in Melbourne, where it would remain until around the year 2000.   I have extensive service history for that part of the car’s life.   Being a late production car, and purchased (tax free) by a consulate, it has many options installed.   The late (from the 1978 model year) cars had the velour style carpets and standard dash wood.

Being an Australian delivery car it has an MB-Tex interior, self-leveling rear suspension, power windows, tachometer and air conditioning.     The Australian delivered cars were subject to the misguided ADR27A emissions restrictions.   These ended up exchanging one type of emission for another, increasing fuel consumption and hence CO2.     Under this regime, the cars were restricted to 112kW & 206Nm and a top speed of around 185km/h.   Despite the heft of the W116, the performance is still pretty good around town, thanks to the 3.69 diff ratio.

I owned this car for about 18 months from 2021 to 2023.  I originally wanted a W116 when I purchased my 300SE.   Owning 3 W126 cars seemed a bit excessive, so why not replace one with a W116?   I’m currently on the search for a specific car, and even have a line on one that may be ready for sale later this year.   At the time, this car was the closest one I could find.   It had an almost perfect body and interior, but needed a few mechanical issues, some of which I could tackle myself.   Even in Australia, finding a rust-free W116 is not easy.

1979 Mercedes 280SE

Since I have sold the car, I’ve kept in contact with the new owner.    He has continued what I started in improving this already very nice W116.    Since he purchased the car he has:

  • Replaced the front windscreen seal
  • Replaced the windscreen washer pump
  • New thermostat and thermostat housing
  • Aircon repaired (cost $1800)
  • New tyres and new front shocks.

He was also pleased to report that while it was sitting at the workshop for a week, it didn’t drip any oil.

I’m really happy that the car has gone to an owner who appreciates its originality.    He’s been taking the car on longer trips and its been going really well.

Option codes

Option CodeMeaning
410Electric sliding roof
420Automatic Transmission, Floor Shift
440Tempomat (Cruise control)
466Central locking
503Outside rear view mirror, on the left
586Behr A/C and F/R power windows
524Paintcoat preservation
533Interference Suppression without radio
570Folding armrest, front
586Behr A/C and F/R power windows
599Heat insulating glass for side and rear
613Lamp unit for LH traffic
625Version for Australia
656Michelin Tyres
668662: 10l of fuel
666: Packing VE II
677Tropical battery
818Emissions Test?

Related posts

  1. December 2021 - My 1979 280SE project and my quest for the perfect W116
  2. December 2021 - Evaluating my 1979 280SE
  3. December 2021 - Troubleshooting 280SE running issues
  4. January 2022 - W116 fuel filter and fuel strainer
  5. February 2022 - new W116 fuel hose, strainer and filter
  6. February 2022 - K-Jet fuel pressure test part 1
  7. February 2022 - K-Jet fuel pressure test part 2
  8. March 2022 - K-Jet fuel pressure test part 3
  9. May 2022 - K-Jet fuel pressure test part 4
  10. June 2022 - Preparing my 280SE for the MBCNSW S-Class display
  11. July 2022 - W116 280SE drag link and tie rod ends
  12. July 2022 - 280SE W116 exhaust system
  13. July 2022 - W116 Seat repair
  14. July 2022 - Stuck W116 ignition barrel - part 1
  15. August 2022 - Stuck W116 ignition barrel – part 2
  16. September 2022 - Stuck W116 ignition barrel – part 3
  17. January 2023 - For sale: 1979 280SE W116
  18. March 2023 - W116 sunroof switch repair
  19. July 2023 - Selling my 1979 Mercedes 280SE at auction