A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Estimate: £65,000 - £75,000
+buyer's premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%
The 3.5-litre version of the 280SE typifies the resurgence of larger-engined Mercedes-Benz models that began in the late 1960's 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 Coupe/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, particularly as only 245 were built in right-hand drive. 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.
Offered here is a beautifully original, UK supplied, right-hand drive 1971 280SE Coupe delivered new to Highgate London in August 1971 to a Marie McDonald McLaughlin Gibb better known by her stage name Lulu and the then-wife of Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees. She is internationally identified with hits such as 'Shout', 'To Sir with Love', and Eurovision success with 'Boom Bang-a-Bang'. She also sang the title song to the James Bond movie ''The Man with the Golden Gun''. A pop icon for decades and now a leading light in the world of fashion, she was awarded an OBE in 2000 by the Queen and is now known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns OBE. She kept this Coupe for approximately three years with the second owner, an Arabian businessman domiciled in London, selling it to its third owner, who cherished and enjoyed ownership of this significant Mercedes for nearly thirty-eight years. At the time, around Christmas 1981, whilst living in the fashionable West End he noticed the Coupe advertised in the Sunday Times by the ebullient motor trader John Lewis of Heathman's Row/ Kings Road Chelsea.
Whilst with its previous owner, a renowned collector of all things Mercedes, the 280SE was maintained to an excellent standard and just two respected marque specialists cared for it throughout his thirty-eight-year ownership. Initially, service work was carried out by Schmitt Automobiles in St John's Wood. After a trip to Germany to have the Behr air conditioning fitted, as per factory installations, Die Autoschmiede undertook a restoration of the underside including both sills and then attended to the steering, ensuring this elegant coupe drives faultlessly today It's still fitted with the original sunroof and with its Becker Mexico radio cassette player and we imagine that Mrs Marie Gibb would frequently have popped in a 'Saturday Night Fever' cassette to listen to her husband Maurice and his brothers. Lightly used over the last few years, the Mercedes benefitted from a paint refresh in 2017 and, last year had work to the fuel system, a new fuel tank, and a new set of, period-correct, Michelin XWX tyres.
Sold by the previous owner through Silverstone Auctions in 2018, this Mercedes has formed part of the current owner’s significant private collection for the past year and during that period the seats have been reupholstered. He has enjoyed this timeless classic attending weddings and other social events but a change in circumstances has meant that the car has come back on the open market in order to give someone else the chance to enjoy the elegance and sophistication on offer and, of course, the undoubted cachet of sixties celebrity ownership.