Lot 151

Amelia Island 2014

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet


$335,500 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • An exceptional, original, unrestored car
  • Only 56,000 actual miles
  • Complete books and tools, and an extensive file of receipts and literature
  • Certainly among the best examples available anywhere
  • The ultimate “usable Classic”

230 bhp, 3,499 cc overhead-valve V-8 engine with Bosch electronic fuel injection, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal length control arms and anti-sway bar, independent rear suspension with low-pivot swing axle and trailing arms, and four-wheel power hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 108.3 in.

Addendum: Please note that, based upon an on site critical inspection it is believed that the car has been repainted at some time, prior to the current owner’s acquisition in 1997.

In the early 1970s, Mercedes-Benz built what many people believe was the finest automobile in the world, and 1971 was the only year that this model (802 vehicles) was imported into the United States. For the buyers who wanted wind in their hair, there was no finer choice than the 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet, which, combined with the powerful 3.5-liter V-8, was the fastest, most sumptuous, and most expensive convertible that money could buy at a Mercedes-Benz dealership. It was a car that appeals, then and now, to great enthusiasts.

After the present owner acquired the car from noted Mercedes-Benz collector Dr. Frank Spellman in 1997, it was refreshed by renowned MB specialists Gordon Beck, who perfected the mechanicals, detailed the engine compartment, and installed new old stock 300 chrome wheel arch moldings, and Bob Hatch, who fabricated and installed a new Haartz cloth top. Otherwise, the car is completely original and has been driven only 56,000 miles since new. Its condition can only be described as extraordinary. The original Anthracite Grey Metallic paint holds a deep, rich shine and exhibits only minor touch-ups. The interior is also totally original and just as remarkable, which is a testament its impressive preservation. The doors close like bank vaults, and in an RM specialist’s words, “There is just enough patina to the seats, the engine bay, and chassis to be comfortable.”

The car retains its options that are listed on its window sticker, which feature a limited-slip differential, the rare factory console compartment, and a rarely seen canvas bag for its leather top boot. It has all of its books, including the owner’s manual and parts manuals, as well as its original sales brochure and factory press releases with photos. The original tool roll is included, of course, as is the jack and the original wheel chock. Even the original cloth headrest protectors have survived.

Finally, there is a history file that is thick with receipts, correspondence, and a newspaper article that features the car.

This superlative 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet has been regularly maintained and freshly serviced by former Hatch & Sons Service Manager Ed Owen (European Auto Solutions, Waltham, Massachusetts), and even though it is unrestored, it has been faithfully maintained and preserved in the care of its knowledgeable owners. “This particular vehicle is the nicest old car that I have owned,” wrote Frank Spellman to an inquiring enthusiast, and the new caretaker will no doubt have similar feelings.