International Chairman for Motoring
"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.
The fact that the esteemed American motoring magazine felt compelled to remark on the 280SE's price is understandable when one considers that at $13,500 in 1970 it was not only $3,500 more than that of the equivalent Mercedes-Benz sedan but also more than double that of a Cadillac Deville Coupe!
The 3.5-litre version of the 280 SE typifies the resurgence of larger-engined Mercedes-Benz models that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the progressive easing of fiscal constraints, which had dissuaded customers from buying cars with large capacity engines, encouraged the German manufacturer to offer bigger, more potent power units. Thus, the ultra-luxurious 280 SE Coupé/Cabriolet and 300 SEL saloon were the models chosen by Mercedes-Benz to launch its magnificent new 3.5-litre V8 engine in September 1969. An over-square design featuring a cast-iron block and aluminium-alloy cylinder heads, each equipped with a single overhead camshaft, this all-new, state-of-the-art power unit produced 200bhp courtesy of Bosch electronic fuel injection and transistorised ignition. The new V8 engine had particularly smooth-running characteristics and endowed the 280 SEs with performance superior to that of many out-and-out sports cars. Thus equipped, the Coupé/Cabriolet was good for 125mph (200km/h) with 60mph (97km/h) reachable in 9.5 seconds, a substantial improvement on the six-cylinder version's figures. As befitted top-of-the-range luxury models, the 280 SE 3.5 Coupé and Cabriolet came equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows, and a stereo radio as standard.
Although the equivalent SEL saloon used the 'New Generation' bodyshell, the 280 SE Coupé and Cabriolet kept the elegant coachwork that had debuted back in 1959 on the 220 SE. Nevertheless, there had been some refinements made: the radiator shell was lower and wider, with a correspondingly flatter front end to the bonnet, a characteristic that has led to enthusiasts referring to these face-lifted cars as 'flat radiator' models, while the bumpers were now fitted with rubber strips. Significantly, the 280 SE 3.5 was to be the final model featuring this long-established and much-admired body style, and today these last-of-the-line classics are highly sought after by discerning Mercedes-Benz collectors.
One of 1,232 Cabriolets produced, this Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 has the desirable floor-shift gearbox. This car was delivered new to the Cremer family in Schwarzenfeld, Germany and was first registered on 6th July 1971. The car later changed hands officially but stayed in the family, moving to Dr Gottfried Cremer in 1982 while keeping the same registration, 'NAB-L403'.
Sold to a Mr Seekamp in Bremen in 1987, the Mercedes was purchased in 1999 by a Mr Wolfram Kruse, remaining in Germany. In 2007 the car was re-sprayed in a darker shade of blue and then in 2014 was sold to the current owner who returned it to its original and striking light blue colour scheme.
The accompanying DEKRA inspection/taxation report of 2017 confirms the Cabriolet's excellent condition and makes the following observation: "The car seems to have been restored to a very high standard with a recent professional re-spray in the original colour scheme, seemingly to excellent standard. Paint is hard to fault with a very good finish, paint thickness shows uniform results."
The report found the interior to be "lovely presented, with beautifully patinated seats and new carpets. Original dashboard and revised/restored correct switch gear (in working order). The dark blue soft top is new."
The engine started and ran instantly with no heavy smoke, and the report's overall conclusion was that the Mercedes had been restored to the highest standards, was presented in excellent condition, and was ready to be used. The car is offered with the following documentation:
Original German Kraftfahrzeugbrief 'Pappeldeckelbrief' recording the first owner's details
Current German Fahrzeugbrief
Technical inspection by Dekra (2014)
The aforementioned DEKRA inspection/taxation report
Copy of the Mercedes Datenkart
Some older invoices
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