Mercedes-Benz 280 S (W 126): The strength of the weak

Oliver Rieger
Mercedes-Benz 280 S (W 126)
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F or for the same money it would have given a Mercedes-Benz 380 SE in September 1984. With his 62,762 marks, the first owner of the Mercedes-Benz 280 S could be two levels higher in the hierarchy, and he would immediately notice the high degree of the eight-cylinder.

Strange combination of extras for a surcharge of 14,500 marks

Because status determines life, even if you own the Mercedes -Benz S-Class has reached that magical limit of social well-establishedness that stands for power and success. But a very strange combination of thrown together extras, of which only the anti-lock braking system, the velor upholstery and the air conditioning have a full four-digit figure, led to the dubious added value of 14,500 marks compared to the list price of 48,341. But in front of us there is only a Mercedes-Benz 280 S - a simple carburetor model, no aluminum wheels, no metallic paint. A Cinderella in dark blue that naively recognizes the “280 S” logo. It would not have cost anything to leave it out at the factory, but it would have created an illusion.

Gray the velor, gray the plastic of the bumpers, sacco boards and the unadorned hubcaps, a dreariness at a high level. It is the charm of the government vehicle that makes the connoisseur curious. Like this Mercedes-Benz 280 S, one imagines a company car from the Federal Criminal Police Office. A disguised 500 SE with the '280 S' on the back to simulate harmlessness. No question, even the weak have authority, even if there is no blue light in the glove compartment.

The dark blue looks good on the Mercedes-Benz 280 S, because it looks more official than in white and more serious than in petrol. The 904 special paintwork, at least DM 304.80, forms a nice contrast to the chrome-plated window frames and bumpers that chief designer Bruno Sacco left for the W 126 before he later sacrificed them on the altar of fashion.

Elegant stature, fantastic aerodynamics and rich workmanship

No question, also as a simple Mercedes-Benz 280 S the W 126 simply looks good, has beautiful proportions. The slightly swept front section, the elongated body, ample wheelbase and the ingeniously inclined C-pillar determine its attractive stature. Its predecessor was all too baroque with its lush bumper trim and bulky rear lights. The W126, howevercultivated with weight savings, fantastic aerodynamics and the consumption-optimized engines, moderate luxury, even if it comes at the expense of the bulky safe character. Well-worn and rusty 116s serve us convincingly even after 35 years.

The sound of the doors in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S of the W126 is as impressive as ever. The driver's door slams shut like a shot. Dark blue goes well with the interior in velor gray; the contrast is impressive again in this combination. But from the driver's seat irritates the four-speed rubber stick, which grows from the same dumb spout as in the 200 D. How elegant, on the other hand, is the slim selector lever for the automatic in a matt black zigzag backdrop.

This look alone is a reason to only order a six-cylinder S-Class with an automatic. You won't even find a rev counter in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S, a simple time clock, the size of a taxi, keeps the position stoically occupied. His engine, the double-camshaft M 110 already known from the Dashacht, is a revving daredevil, which a little control over the optimal speed range certainly does not harm in terms of fuel consumption. The primitive economy ad in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S cannot do that. The engine willingly and spontaneously accelerate after starting. The heavy Mercedes-Benz 280 S starts moving quickly, the gearshift is very smooth and even quite precise. You can live with it, you don't want it.

The M110 of the W126: an Alfa engine from Mercedes

Even at high speeds, the double-camshaft six-cylinder in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S remains surprisingly quiet despite its mechanically complex valve train. From the outside it sounds like a 250, typically Mercedes, but no trace of real sound. Only from Tempo 140 in the fourth does it reveal that sporty, robust sound that it deserves due to its picture book construction. It's an Alfa engine from Mercedes. Seven crankshaft bearings and twelve counterweights ensure low-vibration operation, the ingenious brainwork of the designers around Dr. Kurt Obländer always guarantees a very good filling of the combustion chambers.

The frugality of the optical delicacy - like the monument of a technology-loving era, it stands upright in the engine compartment - remains rather relative. High speed costs a surcharge in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S. It is much more frugal than its sedate predecessor from the W 108, but with the setting-sensitive Solex 4 A1 double register carburetor it needs between 12 and 14 liters per 100 kilometers. Even in the civilian Mercedes-Benz 280 S, the M 110's pronounced ease of revving is evident. He wants to be switched on diligently, brawny starting from below is not his strength.

No question, the M 110 is a noble engine in a noble car, even if the relationship with one of these sovereign ones, the power loosely from the intake manifoldshaking eight-cylinder, which is a more harmonious one. This waiver in the Mercedes-Benz 280 S does not harm the pleasant driving experience at speeds below 140 km /h. It is amazingly agile and nimble.

Driving the S-Class is a wellness program

The maneuverability of the Mercedes-Benz 280 S is surprising for such a large car; with its sharp turning circle, it catches the eye on mid-range front-wheel drive vehicles . Despite long suspension travel and soft identification, the perfectly damped car can quickly circle corners without the magic of the multi-link axle, but ride comfort remains the domain of the Mercedes-Benz 280 S.

In general, an S. -Class especially about wellness on the go. The Mercedes-Benz 280 S driver sits comfortably on fluffy velor, with a familiar steering wheel and easy-to-read instruments in front of him. The cozy Mercedes operating landscape, the only secret of which - attention, manual transmission driver - is a foot-operated handbrake. It does not buy functionality with stylistic coldness, but supports it with that hint of wooden feel-good aroma that seems so familiar.

In the rear, this Mercedes-Benz 280 S really pampers its passengers. There are blue curtains that can be pulled shut, headrests that can be tilted, a central armrest that can be pulled out and luggage nets that can accommodate “Vogue” and “Park Avenue” without creasing. Loudspeakers in the parcel shelf transmit soft music. All of this works with a Mercedes-Benz 280 S if necessary. So an insider tip? Perhaps. Because as far back as the 1970s there was a rumor among insiders that the M 110 carburettor engines had a far higher output.


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