The Mercedes 280SE represents the last of the coach built cars.
Jay Leno’s car collection is extensive, to say the least, but the chat show host is particularly besotted with this 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Coupe which he takes for a spin in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. The last of Mercedes’ coach built cars, the 280SE’s exceptional build quality was unmatched at the time, as Leno demonstrates by showing how the door "shuts with authority." Leno’s model is the top of the range V8 3.5-liter model that was designed to compete with the Rolls Royce Corniche.
Despite its lower price tag, many consider the 280SE Coupe to be the superior car. Leno used to work for a Mercedes-Benz dealership in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which partly explains his admiration for the 280SE. He originally found the car in Las Vegas with 82,000 miles on the clock where it wasn’t in great condition due to sun exposure.
The luxury sedan has since had an extensive restoration with new rubber seals, a new windshield and a sleek silver paint finish. Other than a thorough clean-up, the engine bay was untouched. Solid pieces of real wood and thick layers of high-quality chrome dominate the interior, while some missing knobs for the air conditioning were replaced with 3D printed versions. Top speed is 130 mph, making the 280SE an ideal autobahn cruiser, and the elegant styling is timeless. Car movie buffs may also remember the 280SE’s role in the 1978 movie The Driver where Ryan O'Neal's character drove it to destruction in the famous car park scene to prove his getaway driving skills.