Mercedes-Benz‘s second V-8, after their mighty 6.3, was a hot rod engine. Just as with a small block American V-8, the compact, fuel-injected, 3.5-liter unit would fit under the hood, where a straight six would have previously been the top offering. The new 280 SE Cabriolet looked like the six-cylinder 280, but it had big, reliable power from the new engine to power it into the 1970s and to 60 in under 10 seconds, with a 130 mph top speed. This wasn’t muscle car territory, but it was highly respectable for a full-on luxury cabriolet weighing over 3,600 pounds. The high-revving, very over-square engine displaced only 213.5 cubic inches, and so, it blew through the one-horsepower-per-cubic-inch barrier.
No American car of the era could match the new Mercedes’ mix of technology and quality. Fully-independent coil-spring suspension and four-wheel disc brakes meant that ride and handling with the long-wheelbase chassis were thoroughly modern; but unlike a car of the 21st century, the look was completely distinctive and completely Mercedes-Benz, or “fabulously handsome,” as Road & Track called it. While the rear seats are larger than those of previous models, they were of the occasional variety. Front passengers, however, were treated to the level of the understated elegance that one would expect in a car of this caliber, and price.
The White example being offered is a four-owner car that is sophisticated and classy with its lines beautifully expressed with a navy blue top, top boot and interior. The 280SE is equipped with a pair of classic leather Mercedes semi-bucket seats that are comfortable for any driving in any conditions. They face a leather-wrapped, wood-faced two-dial dashboard. The large register vents confirm this car is equipped with air conditioning, making it even more attractive, as it can be driven year-round. The Mercedes-Benz is further equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission, Becker radio with power antenna, removable center console seat pad, dashboard clock; power windows, top, steering and four-wheel disc brakes.
Further attributes found with this 280SE includes a “spotless” engine compartment and undercarriage; it has straight bodywork all-around and the interior projects slight patina. The current owner has never had any issues that needed major repair. The top and interior have been replaced, while the paint is reported as being thought to be original. Additional interest is to be gained by the car being accompanied by 35-years of service records (primarily the past 20), leather boot bag, first aid kit, tool roll, plus the factory build sheet, all sales booklets and service manuals.
This model was most at home in some of the most respected addresses on the planet when new and is embraced in these locales to this day. This 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet will be offered at Auctions America’s Auburn Spring Sale on May 7-9, 2015. It is estimated $300,000 – $350,000.