Auctions and Brokerage
Original Owner (acquired new via Carson-Pettit in 1970)Dearborn Automobile Company, Topsfield, MassachusettsCurrent Owner (acquired from the above in 1988)
Lime Rock Historic Festival, Connecticut, 1992 (Best of Show)
For the 1969 model year, Mercedes-Benz continued to refine their Paul Bracq-designed W111/112 series 280 SE Coupe and Cabriolet. While a six-cylinder engine was standard, an all-new SOHC 3.5-liter V-8 was made available to keep pace with competitors in the US luxury market. Featuring an oversquare design with a cast iron block, aluminum cylinder heads, and Bosch electronic fuel injection, the sophisticated engine developed 230 hp at 6,500 rpm and 231 lbs./ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm, propelling the cars to a top speed of nearly 125 mph.
Costing over $14,000 each and built between August 1969 and July 1971, just 1,232 units of the exclusive 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet were produced, making it rarer than both the 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster.
Originally finished in rare Black (DB 040) over a red leather interior and tan top, as it remains today, this 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet was sold new to its first owner through Carson-Pettit, a Mercedes-Benz dealership located in Devon, Pennsylvania. After passing through a private owner, this car was acquired by Alex Dearborn and the Dearborn Automobile Company of Topsfield, Massachusetts, a pioneering broker of collectible Mercedes-Benz automobiles, who commissioned a restoration of the Cabriolet and then sold it to the current owner.
John Grm, a Mercedes-Benz Club of America national chief concours judge from Lorain, Ohio, attended to the Cabriolet’s mechanical systems, replacing any worn parts as needed. Noted specialist George Grassler was tasked with cosmetics, performing a bare-metal respray of the Cabriolet in its correct original color. The seats were reupholstered while its delicate, striped Rosewood dashboard was refinished. Engine bay pieces were replated, repainted, or replaced as needed. The original carpets were cleaned and retained.
This Mercedes-Benz has remained in the care of its meticulous long-term current owner – who is also a 30-year Gull Wing Group member – since 1988. This noteworthy example of a 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet has been carefully serviced and maintained throughout the years by marque experts, including Mark Allin, Gordon Beck, and Mike Tillson. In 2013 and 2014, Paul Russell and Company’s award-winning workshop in Essex, Massachusetts, was enlisted to perform an extremely thorough refurbishment with an eye toward preservation.
Equipped with factory-fitted Kuhlmeister air-conditioning and accompanied by tools, jack, its original manuals, original service booklet, and a large history file including documents from early ownership and service records from 1988 onward, this luxurious and desirable 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet is a truly exceptional example worthy of careful consideration.