Desirable Console Shift, Behr A/C Equipped Example. Well Documented and Cared For. Last of the Hand-Built Mercedes-Benz, a Timeless, Investment-Grade Automobile. Beautiful Presentation and Road Manners.
1971 Mercedes Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
s/n 111027.12.004164, eng. no. 116980.12.004732
Tobacco Brown with Cognac Leather Interior
For more than a century, Mercedes-Benz has crafted some of the most legendary automobiles. Collectors and enthusiasts continually select these cars for their remarkable performance, superlative design, and exceptional engineering. Decades of racing and luxury refinement from the 50s and 60s vaulted Mercedes-Benz into the growing US market as they imported exciting models to both new and dedicated customers. Introduced in late 1961, the W111-Series 280SE was a clean and handsome car, attributed to the elegant and refined design efforts of Paul Bracq. This series was offered in both coupe and convertible form, with the 280SE Cabriolet immediately appealing to customers who appreciated quality workmanship and bespoke accessories, but also seeking the pleasures of an open touring car.
The body design evolved over the decade, but still maintained the clean lines and classic grille, delivering both tradition and refinement to the elegant appearance. For those who demanded a more performance touring car, the 280SE could be ordered with the powerful 3.5 liter fuel-injected overhead cam V8 engine. This, combined with the convertible body style became the preferred luxury choice; a sentiment that remains today among enthusiasts who enjoy driving their cars. The last of the classic full-sized Mercedes 2-door convertibles to offer open-air motoring, the 3.5 Cabriolet accommodates four passengers while still delivering brisk performance, particularly with coil-sprung independent suspension all around, power steering, power disc brakes, and many convenience features.
Safety was also of utmost importance, with Mercedes-Benz pioneering safety crumple zone unibody engineering, a padded steering wheel and padded dashboard components, further enhanced by retractable three-point safety belts. But the extraordinary engineering and design was only equaled by the remarkable attention to detail and craftsmanship offered in these fine cars. Robustly built and the last to have been assembled by hand, these exceptional cars were understandably expensive and consequently, sold primarily to specialized clientele, making original numbers matching examples rare and highly sought-after.
According to the original VIN perforated Mercedes-Benz factory owner’s literature included with this car, this 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet was optioned with factory Behr Air Conditioning and floor shift automatic transmission, and delivered to Rallye Motors, Inc. New York. The car was sold to the first owner, Mr. James Hagan on June 17, 1971. The service booklet notes New York and Vermont dealer services on August 25, 1971 at 3,944 miles, April 17, 1972 at 9,711 miles, August 4, 1972 at 16,466 miles and again with 19,856 miles. Service entries continue with Wichita, KS dealer at 31,464 miles and 37,440. By 1979 the car is serviced at European Imports, in Albuquerque NM with 54,212 miles logged in the service booklet. In 1996 the car is known to have been in the ownership of a Dale Harper of Pebble Beach, CA. Showing 81,914 miles on June 3, 1996, the car is serviced and passes emissions inspection. In 1997 the car is extensively serviced showing 82,742 miles including a new fuel injector unit, A/C fan clutch and A/C service, new spark wires, and various new fuel lines totaling over $4,300.00.
Records for ongoing maintenance, service, and cosmetic refinements continue throughout the 1990s and 2000s with mileage recorded. In 2000, the interior was redone including rebuilding and recovering the front seats, door panels, dash pad and steering wheel, various velvets, and a new windshield gasket. Through the 2000s, MBI Motors, Inc. Portland, OR serviced the car, recording mileage at 86,153. Services include $2,300.00 for transmission repair, various electrical work, and exhaust repairs with 86,299 miles recorded. In 2017 with 87,063 miles recorded, Prestige Auto Repair, Salem, OR replaced the brake pads, installed new front wheel seals, and a brake fluid flush, followed by a 2018 lube, oil, and filter service with 87,095 miles.
Today this matching numbers 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet offers a wholesome overall presentation ready for enjoyable driving. The highly desirable floor shift automatic transmission and refreshing Behr Air Conditioning, mounted seamlessly into the center console, make this 3.5 Cabriolet both rare and desirable. The glossy Tobacco Brown paint has deep luster, and the overall finish is properly detailed throughout. The exterior has a few minor surface blemishes in typical areas indicative of careful but enjoyable road use over the years. The doors shut with an excellent snap and firm closure, while the hood and trunk show excellent panel gaps indicative of original specifications. All chrome appears in very good to excellent condition, showing some marks and a few imperfections when viewed up close, including two 1/8” dimple marks along the top edge of the rear bumper. Both front and rear rubber bumper trim show no excessive marks or warping. Lenses, lighting, and glass are in very good condition including an excellent windshield and, recently replaced, soft rubber windshield seal. The matching brown canvas convertible top and inner headliner are properly tailored, and the top fits tightly to the windshield, showing a taut, clear plastic rear window. The factory wheel covers are properly finished with matching Tobacco Brown paint, accenting against the polished stainless finish. The brown exterior, contrasted with the iconic Mercedes-Benz Cognac interior creates a stately presence, enhanced by the performance of the 3.5 liter engine.
The interior is handsomely finished using correct and high-quality materials carefully combined with what appears to be the original Cognac leather on the rear seats. The properly rebuilt and padded front seats display excellent fit and finish consistent with factory patterns and bolstering. The correctly stippled Cognac leather seats are supple with correct sheen and proper piping, matching throughout the car. The Wilton Wool carpeting, installed in 2000, is in very nice condition, showing no significant wear marks, properly stitched edge-beading, and only minor evidence of use in the driver’s footwell and floor mat. The steering wheel is beautifully presented with no cracks in the gloss black rim, correctly padded centerpiece, and a smooth chrome horn ring. The dash is quite nice showing excellent wood, clear lacquer, and splendidly detailed instrumentation throughout. A great deal of care is evident in the fitting of the Cognac material surrounding the curved dash panels. Interior door panels and rear seating continue the theme of excellence with great fit, tight presentation, and smooth finish, including matching original areas where newer materials have been installed. The various switches, knobs, and controls retain clean cosmetic presentation overall. The trunk is properly finished with correct materials, spare tire, and proper tools.
Under the hood, the engine compartment and matching numbers engine have been properly maintained and finished with correct factory finishes and proper hardware. Clearly serviced by professionals who have paid close attention to correct Mercedes-Benz parts and service guidelines, the engine appears properly finished and correctly appointed. Though not overly detailed or excessively polished, the components are reflective of the correct finishes these cars exhibited upon departing the factory. Detailing and care is evident throughout the presentation including correct identification stampings, factory tags, and a correct hood insulation pad.
The car starts easily, delivering a very smooth idle and responsive acceleration. Driving manners are relaxed and delightful. The stately nature and superb ride engineering, coupled with the advanced brakes, and independent suspension are among the best offered for this era. Mechanically the car performs as one might expect, offering smooth power delivery and leisurely touring, excellent automatic shifting, and solid braking. The undercarriage and chassis components are clean and representative of the miles recorded on the car, with no visual evidence of structural compromises to visible portions of the unibody. The car is offered with a set of original Mercedes-Benz supplied owner’s books, stamped service booklet, two factory data cards, car cover, top boot cover, and multiple service records dating back to 1996.
Presented in wonderfully elegant colors, this Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet is a handsome, honest, open-touring car offering prestige and distinction in a very drivable package. Comfortable for four passengers with ample trunk space for outings, golf bags, or long-distance travel, this cabriolet offers enthusiasts a comfortable yet commanding vehicle ready for leisurely enjoyment, casual car shows, or touring events.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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