1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

"If you feel obligated to ask about the price you not only will never understand the car, you have branded yourself incapable of ever appreciating its virtues even if someone gave you one." - Car & Driver on the Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5.

Introduced in late 1969 as a prestige model to supplant the somewhat underpowered six-cylinder 280SE, the V8-powered, W111-Series 280SE 3.5, in both Coupe and Convertible form, was of immediate appeal to wealthy customers who were accustomed to having the best quality and workmanship available in an automobile, but didn't need or desire the next step up, the over-the-top 600.

The hand-built body of the new model was slightly restyled, with a cleaner and flatter nose and radiator shell, but was still quite conservative. Beneath the wide hood there now rested a Bosch fuel-injected, 200bhp overhead-cam V8 with 211 foot-pounds of torque designed to deliver excellent performance. One reviewer referred to it as having a "hot-rod"-like persona with a lovely exhaust snarl, while meeting ever-more strict emissions laws in the US, the company's most vital market.

The compact, but sturdy engine was capable of moving this big 4/5-seater to 60 miles an hour in under 10 seconds and offered a top speed in excess of 125mph. Large vacuum-assisted disc brakes at each corner allowed the driver to slow with ease, and handling was described as very comfortable, thanks to its coil-sprung independent suspension. Both the open and closed versions of the 3.5 were fitted with just about every luxury amenity a buyer could ask for. The few choices remaining pertained to paint and interior trim colors, which model of Becker stereo system was desired, and electric seat-back adjustment. It all added up to an impressively costly automobile.

Descriptions and pictures by bonhams

Production Start 1971
Country of origin Germany