Auctions and Brokerage
Mark Hilgren, Newport Beach, California (acquired new in 1971)John and Marylyn Kumer, Newport Beach, California (acquired by 1981)Current Owner (acquired from the above circa 2003)
For the 1969 model year, Mercedes-Benz continued to refine their Paul Bracq-designed W111/112 series 280 SE Coupe and Cabriolet. While an inline 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 and built between August 1969 and July 1971, just 1,232 examples of the exclusive 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet were built, making it rarer than both the 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster.
This stunning 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet was originally finished in White (DB 050) over a black leather interior and soft top, per a copy of its Mercedes-Benz Data Card. It remains in these colors today and, according to the consignor, the Cabriolet was sold new to Mark Hilgren, who took delivery of it in Germany and then shipped it home to his residence in Newport Beach, California. The consignor, the proprietor of a Mercedes- Benz specialist shop based in Santa Ana, met Mr. Hilgren and his family in 1975, and began servicing the car. The shop focused on restoration and service of some of the marque’s most desirable models, including the 540K, 300 SL, and 600 Series cars. By 1981, the 280 SE was owned by Marylyn and John Kumer, also of Newport Beach, and the consignor continued servicing it for them until he purchased it from Mrs. Kumer in about 2003, when she decided to upgrade to a newer car.
At that point, the consignor’s shop had already reupholstered the interior, replaced the soft top, and refinished the interior’s wood trim, but the consignor concluded a restoration of the other aspects of the car was in order. He disassembled it and embarked on a multiyear nut-and-bolt process that included meticulous work to the drivetrain, engine, brakes, suspension, and paint.
It is quite rare to find a vintage car that has been maintained by the same mechanic for nearly half a century and has had a limited number of California-based owners. Equipped with factory-fitted BEHR air-conditioning and upgraded to desirable floor shift configuration, and accompanied by its original books, tools, and jack, this luxurious and desirable 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet is a truly exceptional example, and worthy of careful consideration.