Auctions and Brokerage
The 280 SE Convertible was the last handcrafted production car offered by Mercedes-Benz, and this top-of-the-series 3.5 V-8 cabriolet exudes style. Built on a 108" wheelbase and weighing almost 3,700 lbs., this appealing automobile was aimed at an exclusive clientele that was accustomed to having the absolute best of everything. Mercedes-Benz lavished its mid-sized luxury convertible with the highest-quality materials, engineering, and great attention to detail. Only 13 of these highly exclusive automobiles rolled off the assembly line at Sindelfingen per week.
This fine example, one of only 1,232 built, was completed May 1, 1971. Believed to have been sold new in Southern California, its first known owner was Jack Cavanaugh of Los Angeles, who eventually sold the car to internationally acclaimed restoration expert Paul Russell of Essex, Massachusetts, in August 1987. On December 12th of that year, this elegant convertible was sold in turn to Mr. Douglas Fischer of Pound Ridge, New York. At that point in time, the Mercedes-Benz had been driven some 52,356 miles.
Duringhis13yearsofownership,Mr.Fischerhad the 280 SE maintained at the Russell Company’s maintenance facility, the Gullwing Service Company. In 1990, the seats were re-covered and a new weathertight and heavily padded folding top in correct German canvas was installed. Seven years later, the car was disassembled at Paul Russell and the body stripped to bare metal for a complete repaint in period-correct ivory with color-matching wheel covers. On January 20, 2000, with the odometer then reading 77,392 miles, Paul Russell arranged the sale of Mr. Fischer’s automobile to the consignor, a Southern California television executive.
In a letter, the owner stated his intent to keep the car at his Santa Barbara home, using it for weekend pleasure driving with his family. To that end, he wanted to bring the 280 SE back to as-new condition. In August 2010, the convertible was delivered to the Mercedes- Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California, where the car was inspected and restored as needed from one end to the other, generating a 19-page repair invoice totaling nearly $60,000. The mechanical and cosmetic detail work was extensive, and included refinishing the entire wood interior trim and replacing the black plastic steering wheel as well as a myriad of other tasks. Prior to that recommissioning, the car had been entrusted to several reputable shops in Santa Barbara. A thick file of service and repair receipts document the owner’s dedication to maintaining this fine automobile in top condition.
This lovely automobile has remained in the possession of the same family since 2000. It is equipped with column shift, Becker radio, factory-installed Behr air-conditioning, power windows, power steering, and power brakes. It presents a rare opportunity to acquire one of the best cars that Mercedes-Benz had to offer in 1971.