When it comes to collecting cars with the iconic three-pointed star on the bonnet, you have quite the back catalogue to pick from. This is a brand with incredible pedigree. But you don't necessarily have to break the bank to get a Mercedes classic that offers bucketloads of suave style...
By: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
It is safe to say that, in general, all Mercedes-Benz coupés are more sought-after than their respective four-door equivalents. Even if some of these coupés are not highly collectable (yet), that doesn’t mean they are easy to find. We talk to the owner of a very neat 1970 Mercedes-Benz 250 CE coupé to find out about his ownership experience with this attractive, yet still attainable model (if you can find one).
This owner admits that at one stage he had 11 cars, which was too many. He is now down to a collection of 8, which is, according to him, still too many, but nevertheless better than 11.
“At least now I get a chance to enjoy all of them and drive them – and that is the most important thing. And once a year they must be thoroughly serviced. Generally, what you put in, you get out. For me this passion is really worth it.
“The first time I visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, a W114 250 CE was parked in a glass container in the basement. When I saw it, I realised that I would really like to have one. But search as I may, I couldn’t find one in South Africa.”
However, through a friend he was pointed in the right direction and found one outside Riebeeck Kasteel in the Western Cape. It hadn't run for around seven years and was covered by a thick layer of dust.
After undergoing a multi-week refurbishment of all the perishables and mechanical systems, it was ready to be used. However, it bothered the owner that the model was converted from its fuel injection system to a carburettor setup, that it was equipped with a four-speed manual transmission and that it was left-hand drive. Also, the body needed some attention which would require stripping the car… again. He found a buyer and the car was sold.
Then, in 2019 a Mercedes technician informed him that he had found a 250 CE automatic, in right-hand drive. He bought the car that you can see in these images. After the purchase he found out that the engine had been rebuilt and that the car’s bodywork had also been attended to. Nevertheless, the car still needed a lot of work.
“Five new tyres were bought, a new petrol tank was fitted and the car was partially stripped again. There were these long lists of work that needed to be done. Several weeks later the to-do list had been ticked off and more recently the car had its first service after I completed a few hundred kilometres. Now it is really as good as new. Now I can drive the car properly!”
He even plans to take it to a classic car track day in the near future and makes sure he heads out for longer trips with each of his cars, be it for a 200-km return trip to Hermanus or even 300-km trips to McGregor.
“What I enjoy about this car and the era these cars were manufactured, is that it still feels like you are driving the car and that you are engaged with the car. Although there are still some finer cosmetic details of the car that need attention, it feels solid and sturdy at all times.”
“These pillarless cars are just so classy, as well as practical. For most of the summer and for the largest part of the day, you cannot use a convertible. But, with this car you can lower the windows and you have abundant airflow through the cabin. This model does have air conditioning, but sometimes you don’t have to use it.”
“Honestly, I’m not that interested in the technical side of the car. I don’t want to take chances with my cars. The cars must be beautiful, tidy, well maintained and I must be able to drive them every day. I’ll admit, that the result is that you sometimes over capitalise on a car.”
In 1990 he bought his first classic Mercedes-Benz (and first Mercedes-Benz, overall), a W108 280 SE. “I bought the car from a collector with 150 000 km on the odo. I drove it for eight years, being the only car I owned at the time, and sold it with 450 000 km on the odo. I never had a single issue with that car.”
What should potential buyers look out for?
“One should always look out for rust. This will be the case particularly if the car was imported from the colder countries in Europe. My first, left-hand drive CE model, had clear signs where parts of the floor had been cut out and new panels had been welded back in. Look out for such cases!”
Engine: 2 496 cm3, six-cylinder, petrol
Power: 110kW at 5 500rpm
Torque: 211N.m at 4 500 pm
Weight: 1 395kg
Maximum speed: 180kph
0-100kph: 13 seconds
Transmission: 4-speed auto
Years of manufacture: October 1968-May 1972
How many were built: 21 787
Where was it built: Germany, South Africa, Portugal and South America
What you can expect to pay for a good-condition example: from R300 000