TWIN STARS

CLASSIC BENZES WITH A STORY

WORDS GUY ALLEN

THERE’S NO QUESTION chrome bumper Mercedes-Benz are experiencing strong demand on the world market, while locally-available examples still represent pretty good buying – particularly when you compare them with the prices of local muscle cars.

Here’s a good example, the 450SEL shown here was one of a couple that were bought by the Grollo family (which was notable in the construction industry) in 1978, at a time when they cost as much or more than an average suburban house. We’re talking $82,000.

The car eventually passed into the hands of Peter Lennox who is both a dealer in used Benzes and an enthusiastic collector. He eventually tackled a major restoration on the car, which he admits cost a bomb.

Since then, it hasn’t done a huge amount of work and we at Unique Cars have used it for a couple of features, mostly because it consistently rates as one of the world’s great cars.

Getting behind the wheel is an experience, with the monster 6.9lt V8 with auto up front providing plenty of urge. Meanwhile it floats along while still providing a pretty accurate sense of where you’re placing the tyres. That car is on the market for $135,000, which we reckon is the sort of money you could easily burn on a resto these days.

Second on the list is a 1971 280S, owned and cherished from new by a Hungarian gentleman who ran a local service station. The story goes that he bought the car as a tourist delivery, through a mate who was a London dealer. He picked the Benz up in Germany and undertook the factory service course so he could do his own servicing and still honour the warranty. This was no small undertaking and it involved buying the full factory-service tool set, which is still with the car.

If you know your Benzes, you might be wondering about those Americana headlamps, and the driving lights. They were a special order (along with the sunroof and red interior) and fitted by the factory.

The gent apparently toured Europe and then brought the Benz back home, where it remained in his ownership for the rest of his life. Current caretaker, Lennox, commented, “He was of that generation which believed you should save up, buy the best, and then keep it. That was the last car he bought.”

Incredibly, Lennox remembers seeing the 280S getting around when it was new and he was just a kid. Decades later, he ended up restoring it and probably spending more than he really needed to. “If there was a washer that wasn’t right, we replaced it with the correct one. The money just goes,” he confessed.

Under the hood, the 280 runs a very traditional Benz big six matched to a three-speed auto.

Probably the real highlight with this car is the extraordinary paperwork that comes with it. We’re talking literally everything from the initial sale receipt, plus a portfolio of the original brochures, through to a paper trail that fills a substantial brief case. Lennox has that one on the market for $85,000. You can contact the company on (03) 9465 0350.