Two things are stopping me from using a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE as my daily driver. One, I don’t have £50,000 to spend on a car. And two, even though it hales from an era when Mercs were practically hewn from vast slabs of granite - such was the solidity of their construction - being 40 years old, it’d still be noticeably less reliable, and thus less practical than any modern car.
The easy answer is to just buy a modern car, but let’s face it - they’re little a bit tedious in comparison. What you need are modern mechanicals wrapped up in a svelte, achingly elegant body. Luckily, there’s an entire cottage industry devoted to making such automotive dreams come true - for the right price, naturally.
It’s highly likely you still wouldn’t want to use any of the three everyday - in much the same way a Veyron’s quite tricky to park - but at least they’d fire up when you did fancy that Sunday blast.
Mechatronik M-Coupé 280SE
Based on the ’70 280SE, Mechatronik’s M-Coupé oozes class from every shut-line. Gone is the period V8 - in its place sits a 5.5-litre AMG V8 with 354bhp, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. According to Car and Driver, the engine and gearbox “fit so perfectly that, if you didn’t know better, you’d suspect the car left the factory that way”. Custom Eibach springs and dampers have been fitted, and the brakes are from an 80s 560SEC.
Inside too, Mechatronik’s unwavering attention to detail and “cost-no-object” approach are evident. Every component looks and feels OEM standard, but behind the period Becker radio is a modern navigation system, and the key looks as though it could start a modern day CL. The price? An estimated $400,000 (£260,000).
Evanta DB4GT Zagato Evocation
Evanta’s take on the Aston DB4 Zagato is the exact opposite of what the Germans managed to pull-off with their 280SE. The Hertfordshire-based business ripped the body off its DB7 Vantage donor-car before fabricating an entirely new shell for the chassis base from carbon fibre and kevlar. The result is a melange, albeit a very successful melange, of old and new. We can’t think of any other cars with a Tiptronic ‘box, air conditioning and wire wheels.
Jensen Interceptor SE
There are plenty of modernised Interceptors out there, but this is our favourite by far - the "Viperceptor SE". It took habitual modifier Brook Anderson and the Valley Gas Speed Shop more than two years to fabricate, and only came about as a result of one company’s refusal to answer Anderson's calls and emails. Brook told dep-o Magazine: “there was a company which claimed to build them
. So I phoned them – no reply; and I emailed them – no reply… I ended up thinking ‘why not build it’?”
Under the bonnet is a gargantuan 630bhp, 8.2-litre Viper V10, mated to a four-speed Dodge auto’ box. The body panels are bespoke - while the mirrors come from a MK7 Ford Fiesta, and the headlights from a Chrysler 300C. If you're feeling especially brave, it's up for sale.
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