Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Coupé (W111/III A) 1967
Chassis W111.021-12-088627, Engine M129.980-12-020994
Hand-Built Luxury Made In Germany!
First shown at Frankfurt Motor Show in 1965, the new S-Class Mercedes-Benz range was outwardly distinguishable from preceding models by a sleeker body-shell with lower roof and waistlines with increased glass area. All models featured similar all-independent suspension, as well as four-wheel disc brakes and power-assisted steering. However, although the saloon used this New Generation’ body-shell, the Coupé and Cabriolet kept the timelessly elegant coachwork that had debuted back in 1960 on the 220SEb. The latter had moved Mercedes-Benz’s styling into the modern era; longer than their predecessors, these elegant cars featured a wider radiator shell, wrap-around windscreen, enlarged rear window and vertically positioned twin headlamps, all of which were carried over to the 250SE Coupé and Cabriolet. As befitted top-of-the-range luxury models, the duo came equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, electric windows and stereo radio as standard. The 250SE employed a fuel-injected version of Mercedes-Benz’s new M129, with overhead-camshaft, seven-bearing straight six engine, displacing 2,496cc and developing 150bhp at 5,600rpm. There was a choice of four-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the rear suspension featured Mercedes-Benz’s hydro-pneumatic compensating spring. Thus equipped, the 250SE was good for 190 km/h, with 100 km/h reachable in 12 seconds, a substantial improvement on the superseded 220SE’s figures. When the 280SE 3.5 ceased production in 1971, its passing marked the end of this long-established body style. Today all examples of these classic Coupés and Cabriolets are highly sought after.
When Paul Bracq introduced his latest design for the 111 sedans it had all of the trappings of a legendary car. However, his translation of these designs into the 220/250/280 Coupés and Cabriolets made for some of the most desirable, best looking Benzes of the 60’s and early 70’s. These cars have a presence nothing on the road can match; they’re staid and athletic, serious yet not imposing. The more I look at the car the more l like it. Perhaps even a little more than its Cabriolet brethren. The shape, especially the C pillars and rear window, are more interesting in their execution than the soft top. I would also prefer this design with the sunroof, not just to get a breeze, but it simply looks better with an open roof, combined with all that open pillar-less glass, it’s striking. From any angle or perspective.
This particular example which is wonderfully correct, original and unmolested, has an interesting history as her first owner was Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, (to His friends “Michel de Grèce”) cousin and close friend of King Constantine who owned two similar 250 SE’s but Cabriolets. The car belonged to the Royal Palace fleet and carried the Kingdom of Greece’s crest as a license plate on the front and rear! HRH kept the car until 1970 (when he and the King’s family fled the country from the Greek Military Junta era), when a very wealthy Greek shipowner, a young member at the time, of the Gratsos family, took ownership of the Coupé and kept her mostly chauffeur driven and meticulously maintained until 1999 when the car was acquired by its third successive owner, a well known Athens car dealer and ex race driver who kept the SE for ten years, allegedly having only added about 5,000 KM on the odometer. Aside from her intriguing ownership history, this is a quite nice example in that it has three of the most sought after features of the time: 1) The electric windows, 2) Air conditioning and 3) That wonderful automatic 4 speed transmission.
The 4 speed auto is a real treat, it’s precise and smooth, with a quick responding kick-down, whilst the gear changes are mated perfectly to the free revving mechanically fuel injected in-line six; it’s great both in traffic, and on the highway with plenty of pulling power. Everywhere I would go in this car, people would ask me questions, she’s simply something people rarely encounter these days. I’m planning to be driving the 250 SE Coupé quite often, and I expect her to be doing everything quite well. She doesn’t run hot; even in 38 C degree Athens summertime with the Behr pumping, water temp remains stable at 85 C. In traffic she’s happy idling, on the highway she’s equally happy cruising at 120 km/h. With all the windows down, it’s close to an open touring experience, with them closed, the Coupé really reminds me more of a 90’s model car, albeit with more wood, chrome, and style. Needless to say, it was a “love at first sight” affair with this 43 year old German beauty; I bought this car on the second day of viewing (18th Feb. 2010), upon inspecting the also excellent undercarriage; the spouse justification being “a retirement gift for myself after having sold my IT business in the Fall of 2009” 🙂
The metallic paint is glossy with good shine, and the metallic silver color is quite good, nevertheless, I could not find the exact color code in my research. I am not sure how long ago the car was repainted, however it is holding up rather well, is highly reflective, and is nicely presented. I have established that the original color was dark blue (from the metal tag it must be DB-332). I would have to consider if it would be advisable when the time comes for a new repaint to reapply the original blue color. All chrome has a high shine with no serious pitting, while some pieces are not as reflective as the grill and bumpers, but nothing is ‘dull’ on the car as you can see from the pictures. There are not any small impressions in the 280SE model replacement bumpers (featuring the practical rubber protective surrounds), both front and back aside from very few superficial scratches on the rubbers.
There are two blemishes on the surface paint that can be repaired by a specialist (one on the bonnet and one on the LH side just behind the driver’s door), few rust spots, but the fender mounted side mirror is loose and retained by tape. I’ve seen no other blemishes on the kick panels, doors, or anywhere else on the surface of the car. The inside of the trunk is very well presented, with no rust present although the original rubber mat is completely disintegrated and needs replacing. The tail lamps are not cracked and the twin chromed exhaust tail pipes look shiny and good.
The interior shows very well. In fact, the rear seat appears to have hardly ever been used. Seats are blue leather, with no rips, tears, or heavy wear, all inner stuffing is in good shape. I had the Connolly-Auto Stop people look into the leathers and a treatment session is being arranged. The material used appears to be an original pattern but as expected the driver seat is worn more than the rest. All of the dashboard wood is in relatively good and in presentable condition, there is some cracking and chipping but it is all there, including all pieces along the headliner. All of it would require to be refinished to a Valspar standard, a job to be undertaken by a Connolly associate. There are no cracks in the dash. There is no splitting of seams on the seats. All stuffing and springs are in good shape, and all seat controls work great and the metal hinge plating is shiny. The headliner is completely intact and original; it looks good with no sagging but a thorough professional cleaning would be in order. Both the rear & transmission tunnel floor mats and carpet are original while the front ones are newer replacements, but are not faded nor are they excessively worn. I have already undertaken cleaning them with a special carpet vacuum machine. The window/door rubber seals are in need of replacement and while at it, the window felts will also be replaced. The Pioneer cassette radio as you’ll see in the pictures is incorrect, product of the 80’s-90’s, but it works well. A Becker replacement is in order here. The clock is working occasionally and would require repair. The Kangol non-rewinding seat-belts are there, but the driver’s latch needs refurbishing. Also, there’s an original factory fitted BEHR air conditioning unit which works well producing cool air upon trial. Pumping-up with old spec’s Freon is an issue though, as “Refrigerant 12” is banned from the market and hard to find.
This 250SE Coupé is in terrific original shape, hence I would classify her as “Condition 2 Fine”, i.e. well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original. Also, an extremely well-maintained original car, showing very minimal wear. The previous owners have obviously cared for her, and there are several new parts present to attest to this. One can immediately see upon opening the hood a new fuel system solenoid and lines, plus I was told by the last owner that he had new brake pads fitted and a new electric fuel pump.
Both of these make sense, as the car idles well and tracks true even under heavy braking. The emergency brake is working well, as are all lights, interior and exterior, the air is sufficiently cold, and all gages work including the odometer. The mileage indicated is 108,843 KM which may or may not be true. The only faults I’ve found are a dead spot lamp switch, the add-on FIAMM air horns do not blow although the air pump is churning and the RH rear window lever was detached but not missing. These have been easily repaired though, prior to taking delivery of the car. All windows (electric front, cranked rear) roll down OK. There is and auxiliary BOSCH electric radiator fan which is triggered automatically by the thermostat but also has a manual override with a period red light indicator glowing when activated. Upfront there are twin Hella halogen spot lights. Tires are a set of matched Goodyear Eagle GT+4’s, which appear to be in good shape but hardened by age, while the spare is an unused Michelin XWX. A new set of Made in Germany Semperit tires are now on order. The aircon compressor is a YORK unit, made by Borg-Warner, USA and I wonder if this was an original item or a replacement fitted to work with the Behr cabin unit. A cylinder compression test indicated (psi): #1 150, #2 152, #3 165, #4 155, #5 160 and # 6 162, verifying a healthy engine condition. Needless to say, the car prior to transfer of title, passed the MOT test with flying colors!
Sports Car Market pegs the 1966-68 250SE Coupés value between €20,000 and €35,000 with a 100% change in value from last year! There were only 6,213 units made in 1966-68 combined for the worldwide market, of these, 4,108 being Coupés and 2,105 Convertibles. As a new owner I believe that I will not ‘lose’ money on the car provided the car is well maintained. For less than the price of a new Kia, I can buy a legendary Mercedes design, with a number of rare features and unique “Royal” history, a really appealing automobile that’s sure to appreciate.
One of the first actions I took after delivery was to access the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and order in CD form the STAR Classic Service Manual Library for the W111, plus the EPC Compact plus Spare Parts list. I also obtained the original 250SE Coupé Owners Manual, the Maintenance Booklet as well as some other accessories. Thus I started digging-into the secrets of these magnificent cars. The other main priority after taking possession of the car was to seek and find appropriate repair establishments for the following categories:
- Mercedes-Benz specialist for mechanical issues
- Body work specialist
- Leather & interior specialist
- Spare parts suppliers in Germany and in Greece
- Air condition service center
The first category was the most urgent one and for which I had no previous knowledge. Hence I asked a PHILPA (Antique Car Club of Greece) member and friend Dimitris Rizos, who owns a W113 230 SL Pagode along with few other M-B beasts (a.k.a. Unimog’s), to make a recommendation. Thankfully he did so quite successfully, referring me to the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART, an old “Pointed Star” establishment in the area of Piraeus. The main proprietor, Mr. Michael Gouliaras (now in his early 7o’s) has attended a three year course at the Mercedes-Benz School of Engineers during his youth and has worked in Germany, Switzerland and Greece all these years. His team members (all of them coming from the early 1930’s established M.K. FOSTIROPOULOS-VIAMAX S.A. exclusive M-B Distributor and coach builder until the mid-nineties, when Mercedes-Benz Hellas was established as a factory subsidiary). They are trained by him and all of them love their jobs and the old cars, while showing a lot of respect for their clients.
Amazingly, Gouliaras knew well Prince Michael’s car, having worked on her along with King Constantine’s Cabriolets and the other Merc’s of the Greek Royal Palace fleet being brought to FOSTIROPOULOS for service. He also snapped “Hey! her original color was Dark Blue!” (which is correct as depicted on the car’s metal tag, with code # 332 G). From that moment on, I knew that I was in good hands.
Not knowing for how long the car was inactive in the hands of the previous owner, I wanted to empty all her fluids and pour in fresh stuff, along with replacing the relevant filters. That meant replacing the engine oil, brake, coolant, power steering, differential and auto gear box fluids plus executing a thorough grease job covering about 22 check points. The air filter and the fuel injection filters were also cleaned. The auto choke solenoid was looked after while a special injection cleaning formula was poured into the fuel system. The spark plugs and the distributor points were changed and the timing calibrated. The front brake disk pads were almost nearing their end of life so these were replaced and the brake system was bled. What a change in the braking power all that care did!
The other main concern was around the hydro-pneumatic rear axle self leveling BOGE compression leg device. The rear end was sitting low and needed rectification. Mike told me that this was a well known problem for the W111 series and the BOGE units were replaced by the factory back then, by installing the earlier, simple coiled steel spring. So far so good, but where could we source such a spring, when in fact it came in three different grades? Michael’s “old boy network” was put into action, and within minutes he had sourced locally the appropriate spring, in brand new condition together with its fixing bracket for 100,00 €! WOW :-). By next morning the car was sitting perfectly level having gained the correct increased ground clearance, while the camber of the rear wheels were measured OK by an old rig which Mike had in his tool chest. Next a new set of appropriate Bilstein shock absorbers were fitted in the front and rear axles.
The AUTOHAUS STUTTGART incorporates a body shop service and an electrician. Mr. Panayiotis looked underneath the car, checking for rust spots; alas he did locate some in the passenger side floor board, hidden by the underside tar covering, plus minor ones in the spare wheel well in the trunk. These will be addressed in the coming weeks. A foam sealing was applied in order to provide a temporary protection from possible car operation in the wet. He also fixed the inoperable drivers side door lock. The electrician replaced the emergency flash switch cum relay and now the turning signals and flashers operate perfectly. He did adjust the head, fog and spot lights. He also replaced another relay for the FIAMM air horns which now blow nicely! We all agreed that the Pioneer radio-cassette unit is due for replacement by an appropriate Becker Europa or such model.
I left the shop with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction: for a job well done, for making new friends and from knowing that the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will be indeed the appropriate house of care for my precious Princess Michaela!
While the Coupé remained in the Piraeus shop for three days, my tire supplier had called to advise that the new set of four Semperit Comfort-Life 205/70 R 14’s – which had already been ordered from Germany the previous week – had indeed arrived. What a joy! Now that I had in my hands a well sorted car in the areas of brakes, steering, suspension, engine tune-up and so forth, a new set of radials would further increase the comfort of the ride as well as that all important factor of road safety. The more than 10-year old Good Year’s had lost their softness and the treads were well worn. Onwards then from Piraeus to the other side of Athens, in the North East region of Gerakas. Costas greeted me smilingly. Alas, his Kärcher hot water high-pressure cleaner was broken, as I wanted to have the steel wheels well cleaned before wearing on the new tires. Oh well! A small job left behind for another time. He did inspect all four wheels for rust, signs of damage or untrue turning. All were in great shape. The new tires and air valves were quickly installed and the wheels carefully balanced. These high-tech balancing Corghi machines (all Made in Italy), never cease to amaze me!
All along these day’s, intensive Internet searches pointed me to the DB Depot in Dettenheim, Germany as a reliable specialist for spare parts. A similar search for two local suppliers verified that their prices were much more expensive, most items not in stock (probably they would buy them from DB Depot or similar source). Exchanging several e-mails with proprietor Andreas Reinacher, helped me source the much needed rubber parts for the doors and windows, plus a number of other cosmetic parts. Andreas offered his valuable advice about the many items I inquired, he only failed to provide me the fuel tank sending unit and the windshield wiper rubber foot pump which was leaking. “The search is on” for these vital OEM items. An order has been placed with DB Depot which I eagerly await in order to proceed with my appointment at Auto-Stop/Connolly where my good friend George Pitsikos is going to take care of revamping the leathers, the wood and the carpets, and changing all the weather seals in between.
After that job, (more news and progress report as they develop), the car will go back to AUTOHAUS STUTTGART for the body work repairs and paint touch-ups. I do consider as appropriate to repaint the car in her initial dark blue color, but I tend to leave this task for the Fall or even for next year, since the current Silver Metallic paint is quite good and presentable.
Mike’s partner Stefanos has already referred me to another M-B specialist from their extended “old boy network”, for taking care of the air conditioning system. The task involved is to upgrade all system valves, hoses, filter etc. with closer tolerance fittings and thoroughly clean the refrigerant gas from the old (now forbidden) Freon R-12 to the new, R-134a US/EU approved and environmentally friendly refrigerant agent. Such replacements are required in order to prevent the smaller molecular structure gas of R-134, i.e. with higher density, from escaping the system and polluting the environment. Since summer is just around the corner and temperatures in Greece are quite high, having the old Behr unit pumping out plenty of cool air in the cabin is deemed important and will certainly add to the comfort and enjoyment of the car.
The last issue would be to replace the radio. I fancy the Becker Mexico 7948 modern replica unit, but aside from its high price, there are some pro’s and con’s to consider about that…
P.S.: My Uncle Costas 250SE Cabriolet
Fate has it that my beloved Uncle Costas Iliades, an ENT M.D. with practice in New Jersey, who was also a high ranking officer in both the USN and the Hellenic Navy, was himself a Mercedes-Benz aficionado! Having owned first a 190SL in the late fifties, which eventually he donated to his son Christopher upon entering College, then he bought for himself a brand new signal red 250SE Cabriolet (W111). The car was driven aside from the Doctor, by his wife Sophia and daughter Connie. I thank Connie for providing me with this period family picture of the car.
Technical Specifications of the 250SE
|Engine Type:||6 cylinder overhead camshaft|
|Bore and stroke:||80 x 78.8 mm|
|Power output:||150 hp|
|Torque:||22 mkg @ 4200 rpm|
|Carburetion:||Bosch two plunger injection pump|
|Engine speed at 100km/h:||3245 rpm|
|Gear ratios Automatic:||I. 3.98:1II. 2.52:1|
IV. 1.00:1 Rear axle ratio:3.92Chassis:unit frame and bodySuspension: independent front, with coil springs, single joint swing axle rearBrakes and area:disk, servo assist, two circuit hydraulic, 273/279mmWheelbase:2750mmTrack front/rear:1482/1485mmLength:4900mmWidth:1810mmHeight:1440mmGround clearance:152mmTires: 7.35 H 14 or 185 H 14Turning circle:12.1 – 11.9 metersSteering type and ratio:recirculating ball, 22.7:1Weight: 1490 kg
Maximum speed:188 kphAcceleration:12 sec 0-100km/hrFuel consumption:Automatic:17 L/100 km, Super (13.7 mpg)Fuel tank capacity: 82 L (21.7 gal)
Datacard for Chassis W111.021.12.088627
I am indebted to Mr. Gerd Langer, of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Brand Communications of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Organization, who kindly provided me with the official “Datacard” of my car along with a number of additional documents, period brochures and so on. Among other details, now I know that my car was built on 25th June 1967! 🙂
Click here to browse the “Datacard”: Datacard-11102112088627
Anyone can also double click below to see the spec’s and options that HRH “Michel de Grèce” had ordered for this car (marked with an X on the left), as for example, Code 256 “Differential mit begrenztem Sperrwert”, Code 3o6 “Klimaanlage” etc. : W 111_112 Coupé_Cabriolet 1967
What can I say about German efficiency, meticulous record keeping and customer care?
Finally, read the “official” version by M-B about the story of these cars:
At the opening ceremony of the Daimler-Benz Museum in Untertürkheim, which was housed in a representative new building in order to celebrate the “75th anniversary of motor traffic”, on the 24 February 1961, a new passenger car model, the 220 SEb Coupé was unveiled. This elegant and representative model became the successor of the 128 series coupe, which after October 1960 had been produced no longer.
From a technical and stylistic point of view, the new model was derived from the 220 SEb sedan, which was presented in August 1959, and was also assigned to model series 111. In contrast to its successor, the coupé was planned as a fully-fledged four-seated model. It was based on the chassis of the sedan the wheelbase of which remained unchanged accordingly. Although the tailfins, which had made such a sensation at the presentation of the 220 b – 220 SEb models, were now apparent in rudimentary form only, coupé and sedan still had many stylistic features in common. This makes the fact that not a single construction element of the four-door model could be used for the coupe even more surprising. Engine and chassis had been taken over from the sedan without significant modifications. The only important difference was a technical specialty: The 220 SEb Coupé was the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car model to be fitted with disk brakes at the front wheels.
In August 1961, a convertible version of the 220 SEb was presented, which was an exact replica of the coupé, except for the absent roof and required body stiffening. Half a year later, the 300 SE Coupé and 300 SE Cabriolet, which had been constructed from pre-existing building blocks, had their debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The bodies of the corresponding 220 SEb versions had been touched up with additional decorative elements and were combined with the technology of the Type 300 SE. Thus, these new exclusive models, which were, like the underlying sedan model assigned to model series 112, featured a whole set of technical details.
Basic equipment consisted of a 3.0-liter light-alloy engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, power-brake unit, air suspension and dual circuit brakes with disk brakes at the front and rear wheels. There was additional chrome decoration in the shape of a chrome trim extending from headlights to taillights along the longitudinal bead as well as conspicuous decorative trims at the front and rear wheel arches. From March 1963, the 300 SE Coupé and Convertible were, like the sedan, available with optional 4-speed manual gearbox; in this case the list price was reduced by DM 1,400.
In January 1964 engine power was increased to 170 hp so that driving performance was improved. This was made possible by converting the injection pump into a six-plunger unit. In 1962 the test department also constructed an individual special design of the 300 SE Coupé. The rear roof edge was removed together with the rear window and replaced by a retractable hood. This resulted in a landaulet, which for several years became the personal car of Professor Nallinger, head of the development department. Nothing more is known about the whereabouts and subsequent fate of this interesting car.
When the “fintail”-sedans of models 220 Sb, 220 SEb and 300 SE were replaced by a completely reconstructed generation of models, the coupé and convertible versions remained in the sales programme. As these exclusive models, which had been produced for some years then, were by no means outdated beside the sedans of the new generation, expensive stylistic revision or the development of new small-scale serial production of model versions were unnecessary.
The two 2.2-liter models received the 150 hp 2.5-liter engine of the 250 SE and also its model designation. Furthermore, like the 3.0-liter models, they were fitted with the 14-inch wheels and bigger disk brakes of the 108 series sedans. New, too, was the hydropneumatic compensating spring at the rear axle, which had been incorporated into the 2.5-liter models instead of the coil spring that had hitherto been used, guaranteeing that the level of the body remained constant irrespective of loads.
January 1968 witnessed the debut of the 280 SE model, which had a newly developed 2.8-liter engine with 160 hp and became the successor of the 250 SE. This change of generation did not only affect the sedan, but also the two-door versions. Apart from the new engine, only some details had been changed in the coupé and the convertible; like the sedan, both received flatter one-piece decorative wheel covers with integrated boss cap. At the same time as the 2.5-liter models, production of the Type 300 SE Coupé and convertible was stopped.
There was no immediate successor, but this was not really necessary either, as engine power was only 10 hp lower than in the 2.8-liter versions and the same driving performance was achieved because of their lower weight. In September 1969 the more powerful 280 SE 3.5 Coupé and Cabriolet models were presented. The completely new 3.5-liter V8-engine with 200 hp was very quiet and smooth and made sports car performance possible. These new models, and also the 280 versions with the 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine had minor external modifications. The radiator grill was lower and wider and the bonnet was accordingly lower at the front. The bumpers were also modified, now being fitted with rubber strips like on the sedans. There were no external differences between the 8-cylinder versions and the new 6-cylinder versions.
In May 1971 the production of the 2.8-liter coupés and cabriolets ended and two months later the production of the 8-cylinder versions also ceased, thus bringing the ten-year era of the 111 and 112 series coupés and cabriolets to an end. A total of 28,918 coupés and 7,013 cabriolets of this range were built in Sindelfingen. The most exclusive version was the 300 SE cabriolet with 708 units produced, followed by the 250 SE cabriolet (954 units), the 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet (1,232 units) and the 280 SE cabriolet (1,390 units). The 220 SEb coupé achieved the highest production volume with 14,173 units.
The 350 SLC, which became available from February 1972, was the successor of the coupé models. This car was not based on a sedan, however, but on the SL model, which had been launched in April 1971. No replacement was planned for the cabriolets; fresh air Mercedes drivers had to be content with the two-seater SL.
Text: Courtesy Mr. Gerd Langer, Images: web files
- History of the Fintail Coupé and Convertibles
- Mercedes 220 SE coupe and cabriolet, a timeless classic
- Information on 220SE/250SE/280SE Cabriolets & Coupes 1961-1971
- Martin Buckley likes the W111 Coupes
- Vintage Mercedes, by Rich Taylor, Vintage Editor