Lot 361

Monterey 2021

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet


$434,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
US Title
  • Acquired by the consignor in 2008; previously owned by Barbara Orbison
  • Finished in its desirable and factory-correct “triple black” color scheme
  • One of just 870 examples produced for the model year
  • Benefits from a previous restoration
  • Powered by its numbers-matching 3.5-liter V-8 engine
Please note that this lot is titled as a 1971.

The timeless styling of the 280 SE was first introduced in August of 1961, a derivative of the 220 Sedan introduced in 1959. The basic design endured through five single-overhead cam engines, four six-cylinder engines, and a V-8, offering more horsepower with each iteration. Mercedes-Benz introduced the 280 SE 3.5 in the fall of 1969. It combined the classic styling of earlier Mercedes-Benzs with an all-new 230-brake horsepower V-8 engine with Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection. A fully independent suspension with disc brakes at each wheel was standard.

Sumptuous accommodations for four included a fully-lined top in the traditional stacked German cabriolet manner. The framework of the convertible top was concealed from view by a full interior headliner; each top required more than 16 hours of hand labor. On average only 13 cars per week were built, with Mercedes-Benz producing just 1,232 examples between 1969 and 1971. This was Mercedes-Benz’ final truly hand-built automobile.

This left-hand drive, U.S.-market example offered here was completed in April 1970. One of just 870 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolets produced for the model year, it is presented in its very desirable and factory-correct “triple black” color scheme. The radiator-mounted date tag shows that it was specified from the factory with a handsome suite of equipment, including power windows, air conditioning, floor-shifted automatic transmission, and a Becker Europa Radio with automatic retractable antenna. The car was acquired in 2008 by the consignor from Roy Orbison’s widow, Barbara Orbison. Correspondence between the consignor and broker Paul Isringhausen of Isringhausen Imports are on file, which indicate that Ms. Orbison had previously acquired the car from Isringhausen some years prior.

Since then, this 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet has been professionally refinished in its factory-correct black paintwork, and the interior trim was similarly refinished by the experts at Madera Concepts in Goleta, California. Service invoices on file illustrate over $30,000 of regular mechanical work provided by Laurent De Give & Co. in Buford, Georgia, with two major service regimens provided in October 2009 and April 2015. Particular focus has been given to the car’s fuel, ignition, braking, and heating systems.

The car is presently accompanied by a matching boot cover, spare tire, service invoices, tool roll, manuals. 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, as well as those who simply appreciate the best of classic, hand-crafted luxury.