Lot 18

2018   |   Amelia Island Auctions 2018

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet

SOLD $330,000


$300,000 - $350,000


Car Highlights

Formerly Owned by Frank Spain, Renowned Broadcasting Pioneer and Founder of the Tupelo Automobile Museum
One of 325 Left-Hand-Drive Examples Built in 1971
Featured in The Star Magazine
Documented with Factory Build Card, Original Insurance Papers, Restoration Invoices, and Awards Certificates
Accompanied by Manuals, Tool Roll, and Original, Unopened First Aid Kit

Technical Specs

3,499 CC SOHC V-8 Engine
Bosch D-Jetronic Fuel Injection
230 BHP at 6,000 RPM
4-Speed Automatic Transmission
4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc Brakes
4-Wheel Independent Suspension with Coil Springs

Saleroom Addendum

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Award-Winning Example in Attractive ColorsCharles Guyon Inc., New York City, New York (acquired in 1972)Frank Spain, Tupelo, Mississippi (acquired in 2000)Current Owner (acquired from the estate of the above in 2006)

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, Car Club Jamboree, Hilton Head, South Carolina, November 2008 (Best German Marque and Chairman’sChoice Awards)Highlands Motoring Festival, Highlands, North Carolina, June 2014Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance, Houston, Texas, May 2015Mercedes-Benz Club of America Meet, June 2015 (Silver Star Certificate)

In August 1969, Mercedes-Benz introduced a final iteration of the popular W111 platform by adding a new V-8 to the 280 SE model. The resulting 280 SE 3.5 was appointed with numerous comfort amenities, making it the spiritual descendant of the luxurious 300 SE. With only 4,502 examples built over a three-year period, the 3.5 has justifiably evolved into one of the marque’s most collectible postwar touring models.

This late-production 280 SE 3.5 is one of 325 left-hand-drive Cabriolets built in 1971. Chassis 004301 was delivered in Europe in July 1972 to an American buyer, Charles Guyon Inc. of New York City. The car eventually was imported to the US, and in 2000 it was purchased by Frank Spain, a microwave broadcasting pioneer who co-founded the MCI telecommunications company and the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Mississippi. The museum’s staff maintained the beautiful Cabriolet, which the owner retained for his personal use. When Mr. Spain passed in 2006, the car had been partially disassembled for maintenance by the museum staff. An enthusiast who had previously seen the car at the Tupelo museum – and had offered to buy it then – was contacted, and he purchased the Cabriolet and has held it to this day.

In 2012, the consignor retained Ed Mackey of European Auto Engineering in Jackson, Mississippi, to complete a sympathetic refurbishment, and the mechanical systems were properly repaired as needed, including new motor mounts and a new fuel pump. The interior was refreshed with new Cognac leather and carpeting, and the wood trim and instruments were re-conditioned. The metallic green paint was meticulously detailed, and David Latham of Bud’s Benz in Douglasville, Georgia, addressed engine bay presentation. Documented with numerous invoices, the restoration work totaled over $25,000 in receipts.

The consignor displayed this 280 SE 3.5 at several regional shows, including the Highlands Motoring Festival, the Memphis Euro-Fest, and the Live Oak Concours d’Elegance in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The car won awards at marque events held in conjunction with the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and the Hilton Head Island concours, where it earned 99.5 points, and in June 2015 it earned a Silver Star Certificate recognizing “the preservation of originality and maintenance of functionality.”

Chassis 004301 was also the subject of a feature article in the March/April 2016 issue of The Star, revealing its fascinating journey from museum care to concours acclaim. Accompanied by owner’s manuals, a proper tool roll and jack, and an unopened original first aid kit, this handsome 280 SE 3.5 currently displays approximately 70,000 miles. The rare 3.5 Cabriolet would ideally complement any collection, as a pristine and largely original example of the celebrated V-8 model.