The Pick of the Day is one of the last coachbuilt production cars to leave Mercedes-Benz and one of just 3,270 built, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 coupe.
“This example is perfect for cruising during the week and taking to car shows on the weekend, an exceptional numbers-matching example with full documented history from new,” says the private seller in Portland, Oregon advertising the coupe on ClassicCars.com.
The story starts with the seller’s family purchasing a 1967 250SE coupe from a woman named Saga Hedlund in 1971 who was about to move to Finland.
After selling her ’67 250SE, she purchased this 1971 280SE 3.5 new from a dealership in San Francisco, California because she discovered importing a new car to Finland was much more affordable than importing a used car.
“Saga kept extensive documents including the original salesperson’s card and first trip permit, and show the car’s use in Finland with registrations and maintenance records as Saga and her husband Nils used the car,” the seller says.
“In the documentation that came with the car, there is an article on Saga and her husband Nils in the local Terjärv, Finland, paper with a photo of them both standing next to the car on the front page.
“The article stats that Steve McQueen drove Saga’s 3.5 coupe. I have always enjoyed knowing that he sat behind the wheel,” the seller continues.
“Fast forward 25 years to 1996 and the 1971 3.5 coupe had returned to Oregon after Saga passed away and (the car) was in her son’s possession.”
The seller was able to get in touch with Saga’s son through a mutual friend. After a visit to take a look at the coupe, the seller purchased the car on the spot and has owned it for the past 25 years.
“Saga had the car painted in Finland from the original tobacco brown to a lighter cream color; although it was a high-quality paint job, it was not my favorite color,” the seller adds.
“After driving it for a few years, I had the car painted to show-quality standards in red. I’m a stickler for originality but since the car had already had a color change, I felt OK picking a color I liked.”
The seller notes the body is rust free and is “straight with no dents or waviness and has excellent gaps.”
You’ll notice the larger yellow fog lamps on the front. These lamps were mandatory in Finland so drivers could see reindeer at night and were installed when the car was new.
“Saga’s son had chrome fender arches installed and put chrome Bundt-style wheels on the car,” the seller says. “It came with the original vented steel rims and hubcaps, which I put back on the car and removed the chrome wheel arches.”
The interior looks to be in just as nice of condition as the exterior with its original tan leather upholstery, wood feature on the dash and chrome accents. It houses the original small-chassis Becker stereo and features a ’90s Sony CD changer in the trunk and an FM transmitter in the front that connects with the original stereo.
Under the hood is an alloy M116 V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission.
“The car is responsive and nimble and enjoys long-distance cruising,” the seller notes. “The Bosch electronic fuel injection works excellent and the car runs strong.”
The asking price for this Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 coupe is $155,000.
To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.