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Zender’s Mercedes 280 TE highway cruiser had an AMG interior and engine in 1980

Tuned engine, decent more modern bumper, blue-black color instead of chrome. This is how a modified Mercedes station wagon could look in the early 1980s. Then you opened the door and couldn’t help but wonder…

In the 1980s, styling and tuning literally flourished in West Germany. hangover” it went through the oil shocks of the previous decade. Modifiers offer spoilers, bodykits, chassis modifications and increased power units. For all types of car brands that were available on the local market at the time. Not only those that are luxurious and expensive … Some modifications have even become classics, and many cars with period modifications today drive on “hook number”, meaning designed for historic cars. It’s not just Porsche and Ferrari…

Zender is a very well-known company in the field, even if it has not been calculated in it for almost 15 years. Hans-Albert Zender started making shell sofas in his garage in Bassenheim near Koblenz in 1969 as a 23-year-old young man. Initially the name of the company consisted of the abbreviation of his first and last name: HAZ. He made a name for himself very quickly, the demand grew, the production program mainly included body parts: front and rear spoilers and fender extensions. The garage was no longer enough, the company Zender GmbH (it bore this name since 1973) moved five kilometers northeast of Mülheim-Kärlich.

A little sport…

In 1980, he modified a station wagon in an interesting way. It was a Mercedes-Benz 280 TE series 123, meaning a practical variant of the famous one. “piana”. A car for everyday use that also carried a lot, even if the three-pointed star took damn care not to look like a truck. In addition, he had enough of them in his portfolio of commercial vehicles … And much larger.

In the case of the station wagon, Zender tried to combine the luxury of a limousine with a touch of sport. No, from “piana” he doesn’t make a dachshund, he just equips him accordingly. First, from the outside: it used its own integrated bumper, which looked more modern and was said to improve aerodynamics. Also, the wider edges of the mudguards and the secret rim extensions came from our own workshop. The typical Mercedes mask was dressed in a dark blue color, surprisingly it kept the classic emblem on the radiator, it did not have a big star on the bow. It looks black in the pictures, but it was actually blue, and they also painted the moldings on the body. The chassis was lowered compared to the series, the car received BBS alloy wheels.

… and lots of luxury

While the changes in the exterior look were rather discreet, they really went all out on the inside for Zender. The blue color literally catches your eye, maybe you felt like you were in heaven. It was almost everywhere – on the dashboard, seats, doors and roof. It was not natural leather, but an artificial material, specifically Alcantara. The wool was then used for carpets. The standard front seats have been replaced by sporty Recara C with appropriate lateral support. You would look in vain for a Silberpfeil (Silver Arrow) four-spoke steering wheel in the 123 series production cars.

The back seat remains standard, it was only reupholstered. Interesting? Zender’s top three were hanging from the ceiling, so they couldn’t be adjusted in any way. Behind them was a small shelf that housed the other speakers in the hi-fi system. The floor of the luggage compartment was also covered with a wool carpet.

Communication was possible using a car phone mounted on the ceiling, controlled by buttons on the right side of the driver. Stereo Uher at the top with 200 Watt also found a place in the modified console in the dashboard. All the way up to the instrument chapel. The customer was definitely a true audiophile. The storage compartment was expanded in front of the passenger refrigerator, so it could be used as a small refrigerator. All this more than four decades ago…

33 more horses

Zender did not adjust the engines, but there were changes here too. All 280 series 123 types, regardless of body type, were powered by a 2746cc M 110 DOHC straight six. In the model with the letter E, it had Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection, and in 1978 the output increased from the original 130 kW (177 hp) to 136 kW, i.e. 185 hp. But this particular piece of the wagon was received. “heart”, which the specialists of AMG still take the show, even if at that time they were not yet 100% devoted to Mercedes. In Affalterbach, it is tuned to 160 kW (218 hp). A beautiful number… By the way, at that time AMG had four dozen employees, it was like a small company.

Tuning the Mercedes-Benz 280 TE was of course not free. While you took it to the showroom for some 30 thousand West German marks, this piece came to the customer for… 125 thousand. So it was more than four times more expensive!

An upper middle class wagon has become a luxury highway cruiser. Unfortunately, it is not known whether Zender similarly modified more specimens, but most likely it was indeed an individual order. Unfortunately, I have not been able to trace the fate of the car, which was given the original registration mark MYK-AD 777 (MYK is the abbreviation of the Mayen-Koblenz district). Anyway, he was pictured in company catalogs and promotional materials. And this is a very interesting example of period tuning. Zender ceased production and distribution of tuning parts and accessories on September 1, 2008.

Zdroje: zender-historie.de, 1000sel.com, Wikipedia, Automotive reasoning, Tumbex

Photo: Zender GmbH

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