22nd Jun, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 55

1965 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Cabriolet
1 of only 78 RHD, UK-market examples

Sold for £158,500

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: JWE 274C
Chassis No: 11202322007936
MOT: April 2023

  • Built in March 1965 and UK supplied as confirmed by Mercedes-Benz
  • Resident in Australia for most of its life where it was registered as '65 MERC'
  • Imported by the vendor in 2021 and since treated to a bare metal bodywork refurbishment by Nigel Cooper

Successor to the well-respected but somewhat conservative 'pontoon' range, the W111 Series was introduced in May 1959. Soon nicknamed 'Fintails' due to their overt American and Italianate styling cues, the new models were built with safety and passenger comfort as a priority. Charged with translating Paul Bracq's elegant sketches into production reality, Karl Wilfert (body design) worked closely with fellow department heads Josef Muller (engines) and Rudi Uhlenhaut (chassis dynamics) to ensure that the W111 met chief engineer Fritz Nallinger's stringent expectations. Built around a monocoque, it featured independent coil and wishbone front suspension and a swing axle rear (the latter being tempered by a transverse leaf spring that brought welcome extra composure under cornering). Exhaustively tested on German, Austrian and Italian roads prior to release, the 'Fintail' proved to be so well honed that the factory team came first, second and third in the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally.

Unveiled in April 1961, the flagship 'Fintail' - the 300SE - was given its own type designation of W112. Powered by a Bosch fuel-injected M189 2996cc straight-six engine (derived from that of the legendary 300SL 'Gullwing'), the luxurious newcomer was equipped with air suspension, four-speed automatic transmission, power steering, four-wheel disc brakes, leather upholstery and burr walnut veneers as standard. Initially available in four-door Saloon guise only, Mercedes-Benz's range topper could be had as a two-door Coupe or Convertible from March 1962 onwards. A decidedly handsome design (roof up or down), the 300SE Cabriolet enjoyed a notably pliant ride and effortless performance. Fearsomely expensive, the rakish soft-top accounted for just 708 sales between March 1962 and December 1967 (though, a mere 78 of those were to right-hand drive, UK specification).

According to an accompanying letter from Mercedes-Benz UK’s Homologation Department, this particular example – chassis 1122322007936 – was built in March 1965 and supplied new to Great Britain. Subsequently migrating to the far car friendlier climate of Australia, the Convertible spent most of its time there in single family ownership and bore the cherished registration number ’65 MERC’. Purchased by a friend in 2016, the four-seater was serviced annually (bills on file) until the vendor finally persuaded him to sell last year. Since returning to the UK, the 300 SE has been entrusted to renowned marque specialist Nigel Cooper for a bare metal bodywork refurbishment (£15,000) and Tim Purslow for mechanical fettling (£4,000). Passing an MOT test on 28th April 2022 with ‘no advisories’, the Mercedes-Benz currently displays a credible but unwarranted 63,000 miles to its odometer. Penned by master stylist Paul Bracq and superbly engineered, the W111/112 cars are justly sought after. With the recent, jaw-dropping world record price achieved by one of the two Mercedes-Benz 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes (£125,000,000), interest in the Stuttgart company’s back catalogue is at an all-time high. A rare opportunity and one not to be missed by the discerning collector.


All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 22nd Jun, 2022


Tuesday 21st June 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 22nd June 2022 from 9am

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