Lot 147

Arizona 2022

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet

The Tenenbaum Collection


$357,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
US Title
  • Offered from The Tenenbaum Collection
  • One of just 347 examples produced for the model year
  • Finished in its original Light Ivory paintwork over a Cognac leather interior
  • Retained by the original California owner until 2016
  • Desirably equipped with factory air conditioning and rear power windows
Addendum: Please note that this car's engine is numbers-matching per its Mercedes-Benz data card.

Mercedes-Benz’s elegant Paul Braq-designed W111 series made its debut in 1959. Among the most desirable variations were the two-door models—the 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet and Coupe—produced from 1969 through 1971. These elegant V-8 powered cars were expensive, largely hand-built automobiles in the great tradition of German craftsmanship. The copious wood trim throughout the interior was all genuine, solid hardwood, sparingly accented with brightwork; the leather upholstery was thick and sumptuous; and both the ride quality and handling were (and continue to be) superb.

On account of their largely hand-built construction, merely 4,502 of these tremendous automobiles were produced over three years: 3,270 coupes and 1,232 cabriolets. In simpler terms, the 280 SE 3.5 appealed, then as now, to those who appreciate the finest things in life.


One of just 347 examples of the 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet produced during the final year of availability, this Light Ivory over Cognac leather offering was delivered new to its original Los Angeles-area owner via Mercedes-Benz of Hollywood on 26 April 1971. Non-standard factory specifications included a center armrest, green insulating cabin glass, Behr air conditioning, rear power windows, Becker Europa radio with cassette, and whitewall tires. Interestingly, the car’s original owner was part of the family which managed the Maroney Company, a niche machining firm famous for outfitting NASA’s lunar module missions. The original maintenance booklet shows regular service entries at authorized Mercedes-Benz facilities through September 1976, with this handsome Cabriolet then indicating 75,000 miles.

In 2014, this stately single-owner 280 SE 3.5 was sold directly to noted Mercedes-Benz specialist and restorer Scott Melnick of Calabasas, California. During Melnick’s short ownership, he masterfully reupholstered the car’s Cognac leather interior and beige soft-top using the correct horsehair padding. Recent inspection by an RM Sotheby’s specialist indicates that this 3.5 Cabriolet’s Light Ivory paintwork appears to be the original finish from new, although the brightwork was professionally refinished to an as-new shine during Melnick’s ownership.

In November 2016, the Tenenbaum Collection acquired this 280 SE 3.5 from Melnick, and it has been carefully enjoyed since. Notable servicing invoices on file illustrate a comprehensive 15,000-mile maintenance interval, radiator rebuild, and the fitment of a new starter assembly through 2019.

Desirable when new and no less coveted today, Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolets such as this are equally suitable for dedicated connoisseurs of the marque and those who appreciate the best of classic, hand-crafted luxury. This superb example is now accompanied by its original data card, owner identification plate, window sticker, manuals, service booklet, trim tag, tool roll, and California registration records dating back to its original purchase.