Mercedes-Benz has had a tradition of building 4 and 5 place cabriolets for the better part of a hundred years. The pre war 500K Cabriolet C for example, in the early 1950s there was the 300 Cabriolet D ‘Adenaur’ by the late fifties and into the early 60s there was the 220S cabriolet and ultimately the W111 body cars that came along in the mid 1960s. The pinnacle of the W111 cabriolets was the V8 powered 280SE 3.5, built for just two years between 1969 and 1971, total 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet production was just 1,232 units. They were expensive and sought after when new, they’re expensive (to buy and to restore) today and still, sought after.
The 280SE 3.5 is another example of a Mercedes-Benz collectible that has doubled and tripled in price over the past several years. Just a few years ago nice examples could easily be found under $100,000, today, it’s hard to find top quality cars under a quarter of a million dollars.
The example RM Auctions will be offering at their Scottsdale sale on January 15-16, 2015 is said to be offered by a “well-known Mercedes-Benz enthusiast who is regarded for his well-maintained and high-quality examples.” Finished in it’s correct silver-blue color with parchment leather interior and a blue convertible top, this car exudes class and style. Optioned with things such as the floor shift automatic, Behr A/C and a Becker radio, this example should stand out to prospective buyers.
RM’s auction catalog claims this car is “documented as being an authentic, matching-numbers car by a copy of its factory data card” which should make potential bidders extra comfortable when considering adding this one to their collection. RM continues to explain that a proper engine out service was recently undertaken to ensure “its mechanical fitness”.
I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to work with, drive and ultimately sell a very high quality example of a 1971 280SE 3.5 cabriolet in Tobacco Brown. I drove it for the better part of two hours at highway speeds between 60 and 75 mph and was stunned with how modern the car felt. It was solid, quiet, fast and very comfortable, it drove like a smaller car than it really is, it was a real pleasure. These were the last serial production 4 / 5 place cabriolets Mercedes built until the 1990s when they introduced the 300CE and E320 cabriolet models, which, have become fairly sought after in their own right. While the E320 cabriolets of 1994 and 1995 will never quite have the vintage style of the 280SE 3.5 RM will be offering in Scottsdale, they can certainly be considered one of the rarer and more desirable models Mercedes produced in the last quarter of the 20th century. If the past is any indication, putting away an E320 cabriolet today might be a great investment.
I haven’t seen any other 280SE 3.5 cabriolets that are going to be auctioned in Arizona in January at this point in my research, it’s quite possible that RM will have the only example for sale.