I'm sure a 240D, or a 300D (with or without a turbo) will be the most economical car to drive. They get great gas mileage. Good examples are cheap - you should be able to find them in the $3K-$4K range everyday of the week.
Nobody has commented on the '71 or '72 280 SE(L) 4.5 that you asked about. This is a W108 chasis. I have always loved the look of these cars. The 4.5 liter V8's have an iron block and aluminum head, and were also used in the W116 chasis 450 SEL's and the W107 chasis 450 SL's until 1980. These engines are extremely reliable and long lasting. I copied the following comments from an article in Road and Track magazine on the 1971 - 1989 W107 chasis SL's. The following comments are on the 4.5 liter engine used in the '71-'80 450 SL's, which is the same engine as in the '71-'72 280 SE(L) 4.5's:
"I've driven a number of early 4.5-liter SLs with 750,000 or more on their engines," said Rugg. "At a million miles they get a little edgy".
That may be stretching things just a bit, according to Cunha and Marx. But both agree the iron-block V-8s are exceptionally long-lived.
"Around 350,000 before a bottom-end overhaul isn't unrealistic," said Cunha. "The top end is often good for 180,000-240,000 miles."
And from Marx, "I have some customers with at least 300,000 miles on their cars and the engines haven't even needed valve jobs."
So does this mean a high-mileage early SL, say, one with 150,000 or even 200,000 miles, might still be a good buy? You bet. "I wouldn't be afraid of it, as long as I knew its service history and it was a good car in other respects," said Cunha. (All of our experts recommend oil changes be done every 3000 miles.)
TYPICAL REPAIR PRICES *
Reseal power steering box.....$ 300
Replace water pump ...........$ 550
Replace climate-control.........$ 515
Replace starter motor...........$ 250
Rebuild cylinder heads ......................$ 2,500 - $4,500
Normal cylinder rebuild...............$7,500-$11,000
* Unless noted, prices include parts and labor with a labor rate of $50 an hour.
Because of my bias and sentimental feelings for this car, I'd recommend it, but just know that gas mileage is going to be in the 12-15 mpg range, which ain't so good.
Last, good examples of these 280 SE(L) 4.5's can be had in good shape in the $5K-$6K range.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
Last edited by suginami; 10-31-2002 at 09:01 PM.