Since 1926 Mercedes-Benz has been a staple in the world of luxury vehicles, and the 280 SE represents the marque’s dedication to uncompromising excellence and the last models to be truly built by hand by skilled craftsmen. Between 1969 and 1971, Mercedes-Benz produced just 1,232 examples of the 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet at a rate of approximately 13 examples each week, and each carried a price tag of approximately $14,000.
Building off Friedrich Geiger’s timeless styling of the 220 SE models which debuted in 1961, Mercedes Benz sought to add modern power and a visual update to their two-door coupe and cabriolet. The 280 models received a series of five single-overhead-cam straight-six engines of various sizes up to 2,996 cubic centimeters, each offering an increase in horsepower. In 1969, the 280 SE entered the battle of manufacturers for the title of the ultimate four-seater convertible car and employed a 3.5-liter V8 with Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection capable of producing 230 brake horsepower. It was now the first Post-War Mercedes to utilize an engine larger than 3 liters, and the new V-8 engine only weighed 55 pounds more than the 6-cylinder engines which preceded it.
At the time of its design, Mercedes-Benz’s theory was to design the vehicle from the inside out, focusing on the passenger compartment first and the occupant’s comfort and safety is the primary focus. This in turn resulted in their exquisite and spacious interiors, lined throughout with fine leather, metal, and wood and meticulous detailing throughout, as well as safety considerations that were not found in the vast majority of other automobiles of the period. Standard equipment included leather interior, rosewood fascia, air conditioning, radio, and an automatic transmission. The face-lifted exterior received several changes to modernize the aging design, including a lower and wider front grille, updated front and rear bumpers modified with rubber strips, and the rear tail light lenses were now a flatter and cleaner design. The convertible top required nearly 16 hours of hand labor to be constructed and was fully lined, measuring nearly 1.5” thick and providing superior insulation and soundproofing when closed.
This example is from the last year of production and underwent a very high-level nut and bolt restoration in 2003 by marque specialist Jurgen Klockemann of San Jose, California. It was repainted in the previous color of Dark Olive (DB291) some 11 years after its initial restoration and still presents in flawless condition. Mechanically, the 280 SE is in excellent condition- the electric convertible top folds and raises smoothly and without hesitation, the factory air conditioning blows cold, and the M116 V8 engine has ample torque and power across the entire RPM range.
The W111 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet was an extremely desirable model when it was released over 50 years ago, and is still coveted by enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
High-level Concours restoration
Factory Behr Air Conditioning
Walnut Burl Interior Rails
Numbers Matching example
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