When you think about ‘summer cruisers’, certain types of cars come to mind.
You might be thinking about something big, American and lazy, like a Cadillac Eldorado or Ford Galaxie. Maybe it’s some sort of exotic convertible, like a Ferrari 488 Spider or MGB; an off-roader, like a Jeep or a Hummer or a Bronco; or perhaps even a road-trip-ready hippie van.
But all of those would be the wrong choice.
Classic American luxury cars might look great, but they’re thirsty and lack performance. A van with a bed in the back is also unlikely to have the get-up and go you need to really enjoy Australia’s greatest driving roads. And an exotic convertible seems great in theory until it breaks down or the soft top fails… And the only thing more intense than the Australian summer sun is an Australian summer thunderstorm.
No, what you need is something comfy, but reliable. Classy, but not wanky. Peppy, but not so finely-tuned that you’ll have to pop the bonnet on a scorching hot day. What you need is a classic Mercedes-Benz – like this beautiful 280SE on sale in the Sunshine State.
This piano-black, perfect German cruiser is a 1971 model. 70s Mercs have a reputation for being bulletproof, especially those with Mercedes’ dependable straight-six engines – which this one has. Powered by the M130, the largest variant of Mercedes’ stalwart M180 engine series, this 280SE isn’t going to break any land speed records. But what it is going to do is keep you cruising on and on – with less fuss than a hefty V8 or piddly four-banger. It’s also fuel-injected, a rarity for cars of this vintage.
This 280SE cuts a bold and impressive figure and looks similar to its bigger brother, the 600 ‘Grosser’, famously the car of dictators and despots across the world. Unlike the Grosser, you’ll look less like Idi Amin and more like David Bowie driving the 280SE. (Yes, Ziggy Stardust drove a Grosser too.) These 70s Mercs are not only famously comfy and reliable, but have a certain timeless appeal to them. They somehow feel more youthful than later models.
Inside, the 280SE is like a comfy living room: it’s got sofa-like seats with huge armrests, plus leather and wood as far as the eye can see. The column shifter is a great retro touch. Imagine winding the windows way down and lapping in the sun… All while being cosseted in gorgeous cowhide with lots of air vents blowing frosty air on your face. Now that’s better than a drop-top.
“Australian delivered with all the books and extensive service history,” according to the seller, this Merc’s only got 22,167kms on the clock and is listed for $34,990. A bargain, really.