1963 Mercedes-Benz 220SEb Cabriolet (with 280 & 220 engines)
Following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Europe’s car industry was decimated. In Germany both Daimler and Benz went back to producing cars post-war, however, times were tough. A merger between Daimler and Benz would ensure that both companies survived and following a technical co-operation agreement in 1924, the companies formally merged on the 1st July 1926. Mercedes-Benz was born!
Subsequently, Mercedes-Benz went on to build some of the greatest cars of all time. The cars from Stuttgart bearing the three-pointed star all had one thing in common . . . they were renowned for their technical innovation, build quality, luxury and performance.
The date of the introduction of the W111 Series Mercedes 220 SE Coupe was carefully chosen. It was not as usual an international automobile show, this time it was the opening of the Daimler-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim on the 24th of February 1961 and the celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary. The pillar-less side glass and the wraparound front & rear windows were a hallmark of almost all coupes coming out of Stuttgart in the future.
The cabriolet was launched a little later at the Frankfurt International Automobile Show in September 1961. The chassis had to be strengthened on the sides due to the coupe’s pillar-less design. Both sedan and coupe had roughly the same length, but the coupe was 5 cm (2 in) wider and 8.5 cm (3.3 in) lower. In addition to the chassis and engine, the only other parts that were shared with the sedan were the head lights and the radiator grille. Powered by a silky smooth 2.2 litre six cylinder engine the car was capable of over 100mph and kept up with modern traffic with ease. The luggage area was huge for a coupe and the interior generous for a two-door vehicle. Seats were thick, wide and covered with leather.
From the beginning the coupe had an aura of class and dignity and for the first time it was possible to travel in a Mercedes coupe with four passengers in comfort. The interior of the car was a feast for the eyes (and the nose!). In addition to the seats, the door trim, dashboard cover, rear parcel shelf and even the inside of the glove compartment were all trimmed with top quality leather. The dashboard fascia, the instrument housing and the loudspeaker cover were made of timber. Like in the Ponton coupe models one could choose between walnut, macassar or burl walnut veneer. The instrument layout was a departure from the sedan version, it was copied from the 300SL roadster, with speedometer and odometer to the left and the right and secondary instruments for oil-pressure, fuel and water in the centre.
The cabriolet had been developed in the tradition of Daimler-Benz to offer a special and elegant open top two-door version of their six-cylinder executive cars. Although they were produced alongside the sedans, many parts had been manually assembled, so that one can say these cars were the last semi hand-built cars of Daimler-Benz, taking the 600 aside. They offered a quality unmatched by its rivals and even successors.
The 220SE was only built from 1961 through to 1965 making it one of the shortest productions of the W111 series. Only 2,729 cabriolets were built of which only 192 were right hand drive examples. By contrast some 23,885 280SL’s were built!
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale this rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive 1963 Mercedes Benz 220SEb Cabriolet. The car is finished in white with cognac leather upholstery and a black soft top.
The data card confirms this car was produced on 3rd January 1963. The early history of this car is not known; however, it still retains its original York Motors Pty Ltd tag, which notes this car as Stock No MB613. The car also retains its original Mercedes-Benz Karosserie tag which notes its original colour was ‘medium red’ (DB G 516). Interestingly, this looks to be the colour of the car featured on the cover of the original sales brochure we have on file. The data card confirms the original exterior colour was ‘medium red’ (516) and the original interior colour was leather grey (207).
The history of this car is known back to the 1990’s. In 1999 its then owner undertook a restoration of the car. There is a receipt on file showing the body was stripped and most likely repainted in the current colour of white. Other receipts show new seat upholstery for the front and rear seats (including the headrest and armrest), chrome fender trim set, new soft top and a new headliner were ordered from Mercedes-Benz. At the same time, for reasons unknown, the engine was replaced with a second hand 280SE engine (type 130.980), also supplied by Mercedes-Benz. However, the original engine (type 127.984), as confirmed by the data card, is still with the car. In 2000 a new carpet set was purchased, the bumpers were rechromed and the hood frame was blasted and powder coated. The current owner acquired the car in 2010.
Today this timelessly elegant Mercedes-Benz 220 SEb Cabriolet presents very well. Overall, the paint work is in good condition consistent with its age. There is the odd imperfection and blemish evident, though nothing to detract from the overall appearance of the car. All of the exterior trim, chrome, glass and lenses are in good condition, complementing the rest of the car. The white exterior and cognac interior are a perfect colour combination for a Type W111 Cabriolet! The interior of this car is a real feature and the cabin is very comfortable and just ‘a nice place to be’. Once you open the driver’s door and slip behind the wheel, you immediately notice that the seats are firm. The leather remains in excellent condition all-round, just showing the slightest patina and the timber is beautiful, it’s ‘like new’. All of the instruments and controls are in good condition and in working order. On our recent test drive the oil pressure was excellent, the coolant temperature sat at or below 180 degrees Fahrenheit and the speedo & tacho had no ‘needle wobble’, often seen on these old Benz’s. The only exception was that the fuel gauge was somewhat temperamental and it did flicker from time to time. The soft top is like new and looks to have been hardly used, if at all.
Driving the car is an experience on its own. After a mile or two you can’t help but drift off and imagine yourself cruising down a boulevard in Monte Carlo or Beverley Hills!
This car has just been serviced by a classic Mercedes-Benz specialist and it runs and drives beautifully. The car starts easily and once the engine warms up it runs smoothly, exactly as you would expect from a sixties Mercedes-Benz. This car is easy to drive and out on the road it just goes about its business in the most Germanic way. It’s purposeful, yet efficient and having the 2778 cc engine under the bonnet gives it the power missing (an extra 40hp!) from the original 2195 cc unit. The automatic gearbox changes gears smoothly, again contributing to the overall driving experience. The car handles well and the brakes are excellent for this type of car.
This car has been sparingly used by its current owner throughout the last ten years, having travelled around 1,000 miles during this time. Even the ten years prior to this the car was sparingly used and there is a NSW safety inspection on file from September 2002 at which time the odometer was noted as 97,568 miles. At that time the car was registered as AKS82S (NSW). Today the odometer reads 100,611 miles.
Whilst the car has just been serviced and had a number of minor issues attended to, there are a few more jobs that could be done to take the car to the next level and ensure it is totally reliable. The car would benefit from a new set of tyres, having all the fuel, power steering, cooling and heater hoses replaced, new drive belts fitted, having the front springs replaced, having the exhaust manifold gaskets replaced and a few other odd jobs.
- a rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive Mercedes-Benz Type W111 Cabriolet.
- 1 of only 192 factory right hand drive 220SEb Cabriolets built.
- this car has a desirable upgrade of a 280SE engine (type 130.980).
- original engine (type 127.984), as confirmed by the data card, comes with the car.
- fantastic colour combination of white exterior with a cognac interior.
This car has a real presence on the road and it certainly attracts plenty of attention everywhere you go. It’s all class!
The price of genuine Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet’s has gone through the roof so this car presents a unique opportunity to purchase effectively the same car at a significantly reduced price.
- Mercedes-Benz 220SEb Cabriolet
- 100,611 miles
- 2778 cc