Lot 183

London 2016

1965 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Cabriolet


£150,000 - £200,000 GBP | Not Sold

United Kingdom | London, United Kingdom



Chassis No.
Engine No.
French Certificat d’Immatriculation
  • Long-term ownership by British actor James Mason; offered by the Mason Family
  • The epitome of the classic open Mercedes-Benz automobile
  • Comfortable and practical for long-distance touring in grand style
  • A car with wonderful stories within stories to tell

185 bhp, 2,996 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, independent front coil-spring suspension with upper and lower control arms and rear swing axle with pneumatic springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,750 mm

In the movie North by Northwest, an inebriated Roger O. Thornhill, played by Cary Grant, escapes from the North Shore Long Island mansion, where he is held prisoner by the evil Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), by stealing Vandamn’s Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Cabriolet. For the car enthusiast, the imitation of a drunk driver on a twisty country road shows the great road-holding ability of the Mercedes.

Perhaps it was the memory of this car, with which he appeared in several scenes, that motivated Mason, the renowned actor, to buy a 300 SE cabriolet in exactly the same colour combination. Whether true or just a fun coincidence, the left-hand-drive, white-over-red 300 SE cabriolet offered here is the very car that Mason bought. Acquired by James Mason from the first owner in 1966, the car is being offered by the Mason Family, who used it regularly for many years as their holiday car in Switzerland and the South of France. An original registration document, which comes with the car, notes Mason as the owner.

Certainly the genealogy of the model is as impressive as the celebrity provenance. Two-door cabriolets have always been at the very top of the line for Mercedes-Benz. The 300 S models took up the tradition after World War II, followed by the 220 SEs, one of which played that starring role in North by Northwest. They were only topped by the Paul Bracq-designed, hand-built 300 SE cabriolets, built between 1962 and 1967, that have become the most desirable examples of this marque to own, and are without question the easiest and most pleasant to drive of all the Mercedes-Benz classics.

The W112 chassis has hydraulic self-levelling suspension, making it comfortable even over rough pavement. The 185 horsepower engine with mechanical fuel injection is reliable and confident for highway-speed touring, with the luxurious interior and weatherproof top guaranteeing long-distance touring satisfaction. This example has been repainted once in the original Mercedes-Benz White (050) but is otherwise in excellent original condition, as it has been carefully garaged and maintained throughout its life, with the same red leather hides on the seats as when Mason and his family enjoyed it on their summer holidays in Europe.

Recently serviced, this automobile could be driven with pride to the Goodwood Revival this September and then down to Monte Carlo in the spring. The new owner can be sure that it will look completely in character, just as it did when the renowned James Mason and his wife first drove it up the circular drive and stepped out in front of the casino.