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  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
  • 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet


1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

Lot No. 561

Auctioned on Saturday, April 1, 2017

This vehicle is still for sale. If you are interested in making an offer, please contact one of Auctions America's Car Specialists at (260) 927-9797.

Estimate: $400,000 - $450,000

  • Desirable M116 V-8 engine
  • Automatic gearbox
  • Only year of 3.5 Cabriolet
  • One of just 1,232 built
  • Behr air conditioning


Eager to show off his design expertise, Frenchman Paul Bracq took advantage of a mandatory military posting to then-occupied West Germany in the late 1950s by visiting Daimler-Benz. Bracq, armed with some of his drawings and sketches, managed to secure an interview with the automaker’s design department. Impressed, they offered him a position when his military service ended in 1957. Little did they know that Bracq would take Mercedes-Benz into the modern era by reinventing the brand’s flagship, the W108.

Refining Friedrich Geiger’s iconic “fintail” models, Bracq penned clean, elegant lines that hid a powertrain that was both robust and eminently reliable. Together, the cars’ styling and engineering set the course for decades to come. Fuel injected V-8 power arrived in 1970 mated to a massively advanced 4-speed automatic gearbox. This was an engine and a transmission combination designed for the ages, with the combination lasting 20 years as an offering in Mercedes’ flagship lineup with only incremental updates. Not only did the V-8 become a staple of the German automaker’s underhood offerings, it has proven to be an especially durable highlight in a lineup noted for its longevity.

While the sedans were stoic, the Cabriolet was the attention-getter with its evocative chrome and folding roof covered by a contrasting boot. Bracq’s evolution of Mercedes’ distinctive postwar design language lent itself especially well to a four-place convertible. The 280 SE 3.5 became the first to be fitted with the company’s V-8 that was unveiled at 1969’s Frankfurt motor show, but it was only briefly offered. In addition to the V-8, the 280 SE 3.5 featured a wider grille, revised tail lamps, and rubber strips on its chrome bumpers.

Finished in black over cognac, this 280 SE 3.5 was recently treated to a cosmetic restoration to a high standard. As such, it presents as almost new with limited signs of wear, showing decades of care by its previous owners.

It features a floor-shifted automatic gearbox rather than the column lever that was more common on the sedans. Period upgrades include a Becker Europa AM/FM radio, a Behr air conditioning system correctly fitted below its leather-wrapped dashboard, and tasteful chrome wheel well trim. A matching cognac boot hides its folding black German canvas soft-top. It shows just 60,000 miles on the odometer.

As one of the mere handful of 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolets built, this example represents the pinnacle of its breed. With its V-8 engine, it remains eminently drivable and remarkably modern—not to mention characteristically eye-catching.


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