Lot 216

Monterey 2023

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet


$500,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
US Title
  • One of only 347 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolets produced for 1971, the model’s final year of production
  • Stunning example meticulously restored under current ownership to exceptional standards
  • Beautifully finished in correct Tobacco Brown over Cognac upholstery with a Dark Brown fabric top
  • Retains numbers-matching engine; accompanied by copy of original data card
  • A remarkable example of one of Mercedes-Benz’s last hand-built automobiles

Introduced in the fall of 1969, the 280 SE 3.5 combined the classic styling of earlier W111 models with a more streamlined rear end and an all-new, 200-horsepower V-8 engine featuring Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection. On the cabriolet, a power-operated, multilayer top—said to have required more than 16 hours of hand labor to complete—featured a headliner to fully conceal the framework. On average, only 13 cars were finished per week, with Mercedes-Benz producing just 1,232 examples of the Cabriolet from 1969 through 1971, less than half of the 280 SE Coupe’s 3,270 total production. These would be the marque’s final, truly hand-built automobiles.

The US version offered here has been painstakingly and beautifully restored to an exceptional standard. It was delivered on 2 March 1971 and came finished in the lovely combination of Tobacco Brown over Cognac upholstery with a Dark Brown folding fabric top. Equipment included power steering, an automatic transmission, instruments in miles, driver’s side outside rearview mirror, a Becker Europa radio, paint-coat preservation, automatic antenna, folding front arm rest, Behr air conditioner, power windows, and heat-insulating glass.

Upon acquiring the car four years ago, the consignor commissioned a full, nut-and-bolt restoration to his exacting standards, a process that took about two years and spared no expense. A Southern California-based Mercedes-Benz collector, this 3.5 Cabriolet is one of six examples he had restored for his collection, each one with a matching 280 SL, also restored. The consignor’s collection is likely one of the largest of this era of Mercedes-Benz.

The body was fully stripped and repainted to factory specifications, the interior fully replaced with leather sourced from GAHH Automotive in Los Angeles, and mechanical components thoroughly recommissioned. Metric Motors of Conoga Park, well known in the Los Angeles area for their specialty work with Mercedes-Benzes, rebuilt the engine. Executed to a very high level, this 3.5 Cabriolet is sure to stand out from the rest on the road today and provide decades more enjoyment. The well-detailed engine bay and undercarriage speak to extensive efforts taken to restore this rare 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet. The consignor’s team of craftsmen sourced needed parts from Mercedes-Benz Classic Center to ensure the authenticity and quality of their work.

With only 1,232 ever produced, this stellar 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet from the model’s final year of production has been driven sparingly since its spectacular restoration, which undoubtedly puts it among the highest quality of its kind anywhere. Included in this sale is a copy of its original data card and a soft tonneau cover.