Publicly displayed for the first time at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1967, Mercedes-Benz's fifteen 'New Generation' models went on sale the following January. But although the fuel-injected 280SE saloon shared its bodyshell with the 'New Generation' 280 S, the 280 SE Coupé and Convertible retained the elegant looks of the outgoing 250 SE that had debuted back in 1959 on the 220SE, designed by Paul Bracq.
The 2,778cc overhead-camshaft six-cylinder Type M130 engine though, was all new. In fuel-injected 'SE' form the seven-bearing M130 produced 160bhp at 5,500rpm, an output sufficient to propel the manual transmission model to 118mph with the automatic, not far behind. Just as important in an age when automobile induced atmospheric pollution was becoming a hot political issue, was the fact that the M130 brought with it improved fuel economy and more efficient emissions control. The suspension was essentially the same as that of the equivalent saloon model, albeit reconfigured for a lower ride height, with braking courtesy of discs all round. Plush and well appointed, the interiors featured a leather-covered dashboard, (usually) leather upholstery, Becker radio, and round speedometer and rev counter flanking vertically stacked gauges. The thickly padded convertible top was manually operated, while air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, and power assisted steering were among the several options listed. Production of the 280 SE Coupé and Convertible totalled a little over 5,000 units between 1968 and 1972 when production ceased, and today these timelessly elegant Grand Tourers are keenly sought after by connoisseurs of fine automobiles.
A rare manual transmission model, the example offered here is one of only 33 of these luxuriously appointed Mercedes-Benz 280 SE Convertibles produced in right-hand drive configuration. Purchased new by the current vendor, the Mercedes was taken to Germany and Namibia when the owner was working abroad before returning to the UK in 1992. It has been used sparingly, typically covering fewer than 5,000 miles per year, and has been serviced annually, though few records exist. We are advised that the seats have been reupholstered and a more modern (1980s) radio fitted, though the original is available. Described by the private vendor as running well, the car is offered with the original service booklet (stamped up to 1990), a V5 registration document, and MoT to July 2020.