1971 Mercedes Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet Found in Santa Monica

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1971 Mercedes Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

1 of only 1,232 ever built

Here is a 1971 Mercedes Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet for sale in Santa Monica, California. These cars easily trade hands for $400,000 USD in Europe. The seller is a dealer called West Coast Classics and they have acquired this car which has only 52,000 original miles and only 2 owners. This car has gone through a no excuses full comprehensive restoration by Mark Passarelli in the early 2000s. It has clearly been loved its entire existence.  These are highly collectible cars and continue to appreciate.  This is a very cool find.

VIN:  11102712004198

Odometer 52,000 Miles

Price $475,000 USD

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This 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet with reported to have 52K original miles and only 2 owners since new! The recipient of a comprehensive restoration with no expense spared by it’s original Arizona state owner by the renown marque specialist Mark Passarelli in the early 2000’s and always stored in climate controlled garages since new. The car was kept by the family of the car’s original owner who died in 2005 until being sold to only it’s second ever owner at the Bonham’s classic car auction in Monterey, CA in 2016, a renown southern California collector.

The 280 SE 3.5 coupes and cabriolets were Mercedes-Benz’ first V-8 powered sports cars. The combination of superb performance and elegant styling makes the 3.5 one of the most collectible and desirable car’s in the world amongst classic car collectors and this is obviously especially true for Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts. With the same basic body as the 280 SE six cylinder, the eight cylinder offered a new interior which featured more wood and leather upholstery as standard. This was a low production car for its day with only 4,502 units produced (3,270 coupes and 1,232 cabriolets) during its only two years of production (11/1969-7/1971).

The car had been built in the spring of 1971 and dispatched from the factory in Stuttgart in June of 1971. The original factory ‘Light Ivory’ (Color Code 670) paint in exceptionally fine condition and the rare and highly desirable factory options include the original white steering wheel, original reupholstered leather seats in a striking red from their original blue color, original center console with floor shifter, original ‘Becker Europa’ radio, low grille, original tools, jack and owner’s manuals and a copy of the original build sheet and original factory BEHR air conditioning; this stunning example would prove a worthy classic addition to any world class collection.

The car was originally purchased by Mr John C. Pritzlaff, Jr, a renown Arizona politician who served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1963-69 before being appointed as the Ambassador to Malta by President Richard Nixon in 1969, a post he held for 3 years. It is believed that Ambassador Pritzlaff took delivery of the car from Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart whilst in Europe returning with the car to Arizona. In 1975 Mr Pritzlaff was appointed to the Arizona State Senate seat vacated by Sandra Day O’Connor upon her appointment to the Supreme Court. As previously stated, in the early 2000’s Mr Prizlaff commissioned Mark Passarelli, a renown Mercedes marque specialist, who famously had restored the first steel bodied Gullwing to sell for more than $1M at auction, to undertake a comprehensive mechanical and cosmetic restoration of the car with no restriction as to time or budget and to do whatever was deemed to be required. The engine was completely refurbished, as was the chassis, suspension and interior which Mr Pritzlaff elected to be repholstered in striking red leather. This is a concourse level restoration of the highest quality as to be expected from Mark Passarelli.


The 280SE 3.5 W111 model. was built for a period of less than two years, from November 1969 to July 1971 with very few models being sold in the U.S and carrying a whopping MSRP of $14,509.00 for a coupe, obviously even more for a Cabriolet, some forty-five years ago! Squarely placed in Rolls Royce Corniche territory, those who could afford the best were fortunate if they could even obtain a 3.5 from their local Mercedes Benz dealer, such was the exclusivity and demand of this amazing motorcar. Generously applied chrome fittings, combined with the finest natural materials available, provide an unmatched ambiance of luxury and wealth in its lavishly appointed interior, where fine ROSER leather, exquisite burl wood and chrome plated fittings abound, the standard of craftsmanship apparent everywhere on this car is nothing short of astonishing. The cost of restoration of one of these hand-built Mercedes has become almost prohibitively expensive.

In 1969, the 3.5-liter power plant introduced the engine of tomorrow for Mercedes. Highly advanced, Mercedes’ first V-8 featured overhead camshafts, electronic fuel injection, and transistorized ignition. Output was rated at 200 DIN horsepower, good for a top speed of 127 mph and 0-60 times of 8.9 seconds and this particular car with only 52K original miles must drive virtually as well as the day it left the showroom floor over forty-five years ago!


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