1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 CabrioletSOLD
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Engine Type: 3.5 Litre V8
Color:Dark Green / Cognac Leather

Reference Number 119112

as of 3/17/2011

Overview
Car 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
VIN 11102712004114 
Mileage 54,677 miles 
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Known History

 

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

s/n 11102712004114

Dark Green with Cognac Leather Interior

 

Introduced in 1961, the W111 and W112 generation of Mercedes-Benz S-Class replaced the famed ‘Adenauer’ cars and incorporated a number of advanced technical and convenience features. At the end of production, the top of the line model was the 280SE 3.5 Convertible, which was produced in very limited numbers (just 1232 examples built, considerably fewer than the 1858 300SL Roadsters built). Today, they represent the last of the classic, almost Baroque Mercedes 2-doors, and the last of the full-sized four-place convertibles. From a technological standpoint, the cars represented Mercedes’ typical engineering prowess, with fuel-injected overhead cam V8 power plants, independent suspension all around, power steering, power disc brakes, and many convenience features. Safety was also a concern, with crumple zones, padded steering wheel and dashboard components, and three-point safety belts. The truly extraordinary qualities of this car lie in its attention to detail and craftsmanship. Very few objects of any kind, cars or otherwise, are quite so robustly built, and this is particularly striking when compared with today’s cars. These cars were the last ones to be built largely by hand, and when new, they were astronomically expensive. Consequently, few were sold, and they have always been rare. Extraordinarily expensive when new, the convertible version allowed elegant open air cruising for four and remains a valuable and sought after car, with prices well over $150,000.

 

This particular example is a California car from new, as indicated by its stamped service booklet, showing early services performed in California (the first of which was at 594 miles at Mercedes-Benz of Hollywood), up to the late 1980’s. The car has never been restored, but has been sympathetically maintained over the years and cosmetically and mechanically refreshed as necessary. The car was previously owned by actor Richard Gere, before being acquired from him by its current owner in 2000. Structurally exceptional car in wonderful colors with much recent mechanical work (over $20,000 in work in the last 10 years/12,000 miles). Mechanical work includes selective refinishing of interior wood, rebuilt cylinder heads, recored radiator, water pump, motor mounts, electronic ignition, rebuilt front suspension, new Bilstein shock absorbers, rebuilt front and rear brakes, rebuilt starter, new tires, rebuilt power steering pump, new exhaust system, rebuilt transmission, air conditioning service, and many other smaller items. The total for this work, performed in the last 11 years, is $37,729.60.

 

The car is in very nice cosmetic condition. It is structurally excellent, being extremely solid and free of corrosion, as would be expected of a long time California car. The paint is a good quality job and is in very good shape, with only a handful of small blemishes. The wheels are in very good shape and are chromed ‘bundt’ alloys with recent Michelin tires. The lights and lenses are excellent, and all four headlamps have been upgraded to flat face Hella H4’s. The chrome is presentable, though it is showing some haze and pitting in places. The top is chocolate colored canvas, and is excellent in terms of condition and fit. The rear window is clear.

 

The interior is also very nice. The upholstery is excellent on the whole, with a bit of wear on the driver’s seat bolster. The door panels are very good, as is the dash top. The carpets are in very good shape, and the wood around the windscreen has all been refinished. The remainder of the wood is all original and is well preserved, though it has lost its luster. A modern Alpine radio has been fitted, along with a 6-disc CD changer. The car retains its desirable original Kangol safety belts.

 

The trunk and engine compartment are both unrestored but in very fine shape. The trunk floor is in wonderful condition, again consistent with the structural integrity throughout the rest of the car. The original rubber mats are in place, as is the spare. The engine is primarily original in configuration, and appearance, save for the valve covers, which have been polished. The car is fitted with a correct Mercedes battery, and is quite tidy.

 

The undercarriage is exceptionally nice, with the exception of one small area of corrosion under the left rear seat. Besides that, the car is structurally outstanding, with all original floors in superb order. The original seam sealant is still in place, and the structural integrity of the car is a wonderful feature of its California history from new. The suspension and mechanical components show many signs of recent maintenance.

 

The car runs and drives extremely well, as would be expected for a car that has received so much mechanical attention in recent years. The engine runs well and makes good power, while the transmission shifts smoothly and holds gears in a satisfying way to ensure spirited progress should the driver so desire. The car feels deceptively spirited for its size. The chassis is solid, and the suspension supple but well controlled. The ride is a perfect blend of smoothness and control. The brakes work well. The electric windows work properly, and the Behr AC blows cold.

 

This is a great opportunity to acquire a California example of this, the last of Mercedes’ hand-built cars. Understandably collectable due to their rarity, quality, and elegance, these cars are vulnerable to corrosion, making this car’s excellent structural condition a particularly desirable characteristic. The car is a lovely well-cared for unrestored California example whose level of integrity that is difficult to find, even among California cars. With much recent mechanical work, the car is ready to enjoy and drives wonderfully. Cosmetically, it presents very nicely as well, making this an ideal car to drive and enjoy.