This 1970 Mercedes 280 SE might look like a regular precursor of the S-Class but an AMG badge at the back lets you know it's something special. Pop the bonnet of the saloon built more than half a century ago and you'll find a much newer engine. Matt Kwiek managed to shoehorn a modern AMG V8 into the W108 he initially bought to drive off from his wedding. The original engine was rather thirsty in terms of oil consumption and had to make way for a more potent unit.
It's a 280 SE imported from Germany and uses Mercedes engine mounts to fit the V8 sourced from a 2001 S55 AMG. This naturally aspirated 5.4-litre unit is making somewhere in the region of 400 bhp channelled to the rear axle through a six-speed manual gearbox borrowed from a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire. As a refresher, the sports coupe came during the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler era and was largely based on the Mercedes SLK.
But wait, there's more. Top Gear was also given the opportunity to check out another car built by Matt Kwiek. The 1978 Mercedes 280 CE wearing a steel widebody kit was also fitted with the same engine but in supercharged form to push out 450-500 bhp. Aside from an engine transplant from a 2003 CL55 AMG, the sports coupe has an overhauled suspension, a limited-slip differential, and a stick shift. It's basically a Black Series from the late 1970s.
Some might find restomods to be sacrilegious, but these two cars still have Mercedes engines, just far more modern. We'd argue combining the classic styling with potent powertrains is the best of both worlds, especially since the cars received additional modifications to make the uncanny combination work seamlessly.
Source: Top Gear / YouTube