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  • Smartly presented in the classic combination of Mercedes-Benz 180 Silbergrau with Burgundy original leather interior and black hood
  • Registered in Monaco
Desirable European specification

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet

Coachwork by Sindelfingen

Once in a decade or so Daimler-Benz produced an iconic model, often impossibly expensive and mainly hand-built with such care and attention it genuinely deserved the title ‘Best Car in the World’.

The W111 series of luxury coupés and cabriolets joined that exclusive club inhabited by the 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ and Roadster. Sitting at the top of tree was the ‘low radiator’ 280 SE 3.5, and the finest, most sought-after model of them all – a favourite of Hollywood film producers and their stars – was the 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet.

This car, to the highly desirable and hard-to-find European specification of one-piece headlamps and no side-marker lights is one.

The Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet

When introduced in 1961, the two-door, four-seater W111 coupés were powered by Mercedes' reliable six-cylinder engine, however these were substantially built cars and their performance with engines of 105bhp or even 135bhp could best be described as “solid”.

That changed dramatically in August 1969 with the 280 SE 3.5, the first Mercedes post-War coupé with an engine larger than three litres. The brand-new, M116 3,499 cc V8 produced 200bhp at 5800 rpm, enough to power an automatic coupé to 125mph and beyond. An overhead camshaft, transistorised ignition and Bosch fuel injection gave the now state-of-the-art coupé performance not far off the legendary 300 SL ‘Gullwing’.

That was under the bonnet. The exterior was brought right up to date with a redesign that incorporated a new lower radiator grille and bonnet. It was an attractive and timeless design that looks as good today as it did 50 years ago.

Such was the price of the four-seater coupés and convertibles (the last offered by Mercedes for over twenty years) new that they vied for well-heeled custom worldwide that could afford the equivalent Aston Martin, Maserati or Lamborghini.

Many were sold in North America, built to meet safety and emissions of the time that included extra side-markers and ugly US Department of Transport sealed-beam headlamps.

The cleaner-looking European cars remain the ones to have: powerful, elegant and practical weekend transport for four plus their luggage.

This Motor Car

This beautiful example was supplied new to Europe, finished in classic DB 180 Silbergrau handsomely complemented by a Burgundy leather interior with matching trim and carpets. The luxurious effect was added to by the model’s familiar high-quality wood veneers and a fully lined black cloth folding top.

Like most 280 SE 3.5s, it was fitted with automatic transmission. This example was delivered with a Becker Europa radio and Hirschmann power aerial, both of which are in the car today.

The low-mileage car was sourced several years ago by M-B specialist Eberhard Thiesen for a German collector. It later spent time in Japan, then passed to connoisseur Henri Chambon in the South of France and is now located in Monaco.

The original leather is very well preserved, and the wood veneers are all excellent. Chromework is superb throughout including the all-important (and expensive to restore) bumpers. The bodywork has been repainted its original colour from bare metal and the under-bonnet appearance is to factory standards. Underneath the car there is no evidence of any welding. The boot area contains a full complement of tools and the owner’s handbooks are in the glovebox. Although not used every day, the car has been well maintained, mainly at a Mercedes-Benz main dealer.

Having enjoyed many years in a succession of important collections, this car has received the best of care, storage and maintenance: every need has been satisfied immediately, yet it has seen very little use and currently shows c.50,000km.

Ready for enjoyment all year round, endowed with modern levels of performance and luxury in classic Mercedes-Benz style, this handsome European 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet is ready for Biarritz, Beverley Hills or Berlin – the ultimate in open-air, four-seat motoring.


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