1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabrio
- Chassis # 11102712003785
- Engine # 11698012003346
- Just Over $73,000 Spent On Mechanical Restoration
- Finished In Attractive Original Colors
There something about simplicity in an automobile that creates an unexpected attraction. No intricate aerodynamics, advanced computers, or elaborate interiors with too many buttons and switches to keep track of. There is beauty in a car that simply works. During the 60's and early 70's Mercedes embodied this ideology with their W111 series which included the 280SE. The clever engineering, superior build quality, and expensive materials utilized is where this humble Mercedes gets it edge. The 280SE was offered in a hard-top coupe and convertible configurations with either a 2.8L Inline 6, which came in the standard model, or one could opt for a more powerful 3.5L V8. These cars rolled out of the factory in Stuttgart with fuel injection, 4-wheel disc brakes, and fully independent suspension, making them an engineering marvel in period. Quite often being described as “overbuilt,” the 280SE was a pure engineering masterpiece that is still loved for its modern-like drive and iconic Mercedes hand built styling.
This brings us to the example offered here, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet. Chassis number 111-027-12-003785 is a desirable floor shift car, originally equipped with bucket seats, two-tone horn, Behr air conditioning, electric windows and fog lights. A two owner example, this car was first sold in Italy and then purchased by the current owner over twenty years ago. Upon his purchase, it was immediately shipped to New York where it has been cared for and enjoyed for the past 20 years. Just this past October, the car received a comprehensive mechanical restoration with cosmetic updates including a new top and re-paint executed by the marque specialists at Rheinland Motors of Sunnyside, New York. This thorough refreshing totaled just over $73,000 in receipts and leaves us today with a turnkey example ready to be driven.
The exterior of this car presents excellently as a driver quality example with minor scratches, dings, and chrome imperfections consistent with a driver and a 46 year old car. It remains in its original factory colors; silver with a navy blue soft top. The panel fitment throughout the car is acceptable, falling within appropriate clearances, but could be improved upon if desired. From a few feet away, the car truly looks spectacular; it is only upon close inspection where the flaws can be noted. The respray has left the car with a shine and deep color, but can be scrutinized upon close inspection; there are some items to be pointed out and inconsistencies to be found. Some of the blemishes include, but are not limited to a drip mark on the right corner of the trunk lid, four pinhead sized chips below the driver's side doors handle, and as a whole, it could use a wet sand/buff to take it to the next level. However, it is still very much presentable and the blemishes noted fall in line with a driver quality example.
The original chrome trim on the car has begun to show some signs of aging; scattered pitting throughout, dullness in certain areas, a couple dings, multiple scratches, with the most severe blemish being a pretty hefty scuff on the passenger side wheel arch trim. Depending on one's taste, these marks of the car's history could be embraced or corrected but something to be noted as a flaw regardless. The brand new soft top is in excellent shape, with no sagging, pulls, or fading whatsoever and gives the car a great look. The glass on the car is presentable but it is to be noted that there are some scratches on the front windshield from a bad wiper blade. The wheels are all in superb condition with no significant blemishes or curb rash.
The interior of this example showcases a lovely patina with correct factory finishes. The navy blue leather seats are without major flawing and just a small blemish on the side of the driver's side seat where a touch of fading has developed. The navy rugs and floor mats are all in wonderful condition, showing no evidence of mistreatment. An inspection of the dash will conclude everything to be in order with the only noteworthy blemish to be the wood trim piece at the base of the windshield where the veneer has begun to peel. This is a common issue on Mercedes Benz cars of this era and a relatively simple fix. The original steering wheel has developed a substantial chip and a slightly cracked horn button, but are original to the car. As a whole, the interior is an enticing spectacle of Mercedes luxury accompanied by signs of use, a driver, consistent with the rest of the cars presentation overall.
Lifting open the massive front bonnet, there lies that magnificent fuel injected 3.5L power plant that made these cars so special. It is clear that this example has been regularly serviced, having fresh hoses, clamps, wires, and belts. All componentry appears neat and tidy with nothing out of place. Moving to the trunk, the mat is brand new, there is no evidence of serious deterioration, and the spare wheel is present. The undercarriage of this example is consistent with the condition of the rest of the car; not perfect but without major fault. Some finishes have begun to fade/chip/oxidize however, the frame is straight and true, the suspension components are all in order, and there are no signs that this car has ever incurred any accident damage.
Mechanically, this example is well sorted and completely sound with no issues to report. The engine starts easily, idles nicely, and performs without hesitation. The recent comprehensive mechanical restoration addressed absolutely all systems of this example including; new timing chain, engine mounts, water pump, exhaust, brake calipers, brake pads, brake rotors, an overhauling of the air-conditioning, and complete transmission rebuild to name a few of the items invoices. This 280SE is a car one can truly get in and enjoy with the confidence that every system will perform as intended. The engine pulls strong, the automatic 4-speed transmission shifts without issue, the steering feels spot on, and the 4-wheel disc brakes work properly without fault. This 280SE performs excellently on the road; mechanically ready to take on any rally or tour.
The W111 series are some of the most coveted cars ever built by Mercedes-Benz with no slow down in market demand. With just over 1,200 280SE V8 Cabriolets ever produced, it makes this example a certain rarity amongst its breed. This luxurious convertible has the performance you want in a sports car while awarding the user with surrounding comfort. Offered with the sale of this car is the documented service history, spare wheel, and jack. A fantastic opportunity to acquire a 280SE 3.5 that is purposeful in its current condition to be used and enjoyed and with room for improvement in the coming years.
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