Race Retro Classic Car Sale 2017

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1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 V8 Coupe

Lot No.: 917

Registration: JYY 95J
Chassis Number: 11102622003550
Engine Number: 11698022003176
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 3500cc
Year of Manufacture: 1971
Sold for (£): 70,313

The 3.5-litre version of the 280SE typifies the resurgence of larger-engined Mercedes-Benz models that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the progressive easing of fiscal constraints, which had dissuaded customers from buying cars with large capacity engines, encouraged the German manufacturer to offer bigger, more potent power units. Thus, the ultra-luxurious 280SE Coupé/Cabriolet and 300SEL saloon were the models chosen by Mercedes-Benz to launch its magnificent new 3.5-litre V8 engine in 1969. An over-square design featuring a cast-iron block and aluminium alloy cylinder heads, each equipped with a single overhead camshaft, this all-new, state-of-the-art power unit produced 200bhp courtesy of Bosch electronic fuel injection and transistorised ignition. Thus equipped, the Coupé/Cabriolet was good for 125mph with 60mph whispering by in 9.5 seconds, a substantial improvement on the six-cylinder version's figures.


Although the equivalent SEL saloon used the 'New Generation' bodyshell, the Coupé and Cabriolet kept the elegant coachwork that had debuted back in 1959 on the 220SE and, as befitted top-of-the-range luxury models came equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows and stereo radio as standard. Significantly, the 280SE 3.5 was to be the final model to feature this long-established and much-admired body style, and today these last-of-the-line classics are highly sought after by discerning Mercedes-Benz collectors. But it’s not just their rarity that makes them so desirable since they also represent some of the quickest Mercedes of that era.


The 280SE 3.5 was a cheaper alternative, and a less obviously opulent, contemporary of the Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupé. The most prestigious of the 280SE Coupé and Cabriolet variants is the 3.5 litre V8 model made for just two years from 1969 to 1971, the majority of these in left-hand drive.


This delightful 1971 example, was, according to a copy of the Mercedes-Benz data card, destined for the UK and was finished in a very sophisticated shade (DB 180) of Metallic Silver, the colour it wears today, with a sumptuous black leather interior (241). The car has benefitted from some restoration work, mainly to the under-body by the previous owner, television actor and noted Mercedes enthusiast, Gary Mavers from 2014. New floors were installed to allay the common 280SE rust problem and new brakes, suspension and carpeting were fitted at the same time with receipts on file to the value of around £4,000. The underneath now looks very impressive.


Our vendor has continued to care for this car and has spent some £2,600 on the interior including the fitting of a period radio, a discreet auxiliary connection for MP3 music playback, four speakers, and new carpets were fitted in the boot as recently as January 2017. The leather interior, wood and chrome fittings are in superb period condition, with beautiful patina, in fact, the whole car is excellent. JYY 95J is supplied to auction with an MOT until May 2017, showing an odometer reading a shade over 46,500 miles.


To conclude, the 280SE Coupé has a discreet opulence and the smooth 3.5 V8 engine, mated to the creamy automatic Mercedes gearbox, enables powerful but peaceful progress. The rear wraparound screen is redolent of a bygone era and in coupé form, the 280SE offers a significant saving compared to its cabriolet sister. (A best of breed example in right-hand drive was sold by Silverstone Auctions recently for £249,750.)


Emanating style with a capital 'S', these smooth big coupés would be comfortable in St.Tropez, St. Moritz, St. John's Wood, and even St.Evenage.