Mercedes-Benz previewed the future in 1961 with the W111 cabriolet and coupe. They were finless variations of the new “fin-tail” sedans. Paul Bracq’s design was handsome both when open and closed – a difficult task with a lined canvas top. Bracq achieved this by having the top fold down into a recess behind the rear seat, beneath a soft boot.
Initially, both the 220 SE and the 300 SE were powered by six-cylinder engines, but the W111 was transformed by a 3.5-liter overhead cam V-8 in 1969. The new 280 SE was the most advanced engine Mercedes-Benz had built, featuring transistorized ignition and Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection. It delivered 125 mph in comfort, and the grille was lowered and widened.
The car on offer carries an “027” in its chassis number, indicating it is an original cabriolet. Previous owners lived in Utah and Colorado, and the consignor bought this 3.5 Cabriolet in 2007. He used the car sparingly for a few years and states how much he enjoyed the driving experience. In 2010, the vehicle was taken to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California, for a thorough going-over, which resulted in a major refurbishment that totaled $47,000 and took months to complete.
The work, documented by receipts that accompany the sale, was comprehensive; many of the car’s systems received attention, including suspension, fuel system, wiring, brakes, transmission, cooling system, exhaust, and rearend. The engine, reportedly rebuilt by a previous owner, was found to be in excellent condition and tuned up.
The seats were reupholstered in black leather, the pads replaced, and three-point retractable seat belts fitted. The interior wood was refinished. The trunk seal was replaced, as was the rear bumper.
The consignor reports this Cabriolet has been driven only 10,000 miles since the engine was rebuilt. It has an excellent older repaint in its original Silver (DB 180), and the consignor states that the panel fit, chrome, and trim are superb, as are the Haartz cloth top and boot. Only 1,026 280 SE cabriolets and coupes were sold in the US in 1971, and this car’s automatic transmission was converted to the rare floor-shifter prior to the consignor’s ownership.
Standard features include Behr factory air-conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, power windows, reclining seats, and Becker radio. It’s also offered with correct handbooks, tool roll, and top tools. The new owner will have the choice of showing this striking cabriolet, or enjoying it with the top down on the open road.