Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet

«Inspiration – the alcohol-free intoxication.»

Alexander Otto Weber, (1868 – after 1927), German writer 


Here, I present selected collector’s items from the ISELI COLLECTION in a relaxed, monthly rhythm. My objective here is to present some of my individual treasures to lovers of classic vehicles, in order to inspire them further. These are vehicles that are not for sale. 

«The W 111 Coupé and Cabriolets are two of the most successful cars in the history of the automobile.»

Bruno Sacco, Stylist / Designer from 1958 to 1999, Head of Stylistics from 1975, Director Design in 1987. 

Auto des Monats Oktober 2020

Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet

Model history:

The 1960s were some of the best years in the post-war period for Germany. The economic boom was phenomenal and many luxury goods were produced, including many in the automotive industry.

Derived from the famous «Heckflosse» (the four-door luxury-class sedan introduced in 1959), with the internal designation W111, Mercedes-Benz presented a coupé on February 24, 1961 and the convertible in September 1961. Both were equipped with a 2.2 litre engine (model 220). In September 1965, the models 250 SE Coupé and Cabriolet came out with the 150 hp Mercedes-Benz M129 engine of the W108 series. Like the three-litre models, they received 14-inch wheels and the larger-sized disc brakes of the luxury sedans, now with disc brakes on the rear wheels. These models are known to insiders as «high coolers». The 250 series was built until December 1967 and then replaced by the 280 SE with a 3.5 litre engine under the type designation 280 SE 3.5. Because of adjustments to the body and the front radiator grille with a lower overall height, they are also known as «flat radiators». At the same time, the 300 SE (W112), also known as the SEL with air suspension, was built from February 1961 to July 1965. 

Both the convertible and coupé variants of the W111 series were handcrafted. Since these are the last models that were ever made by hand at Mercedes, they are guaranteed to have a special status in terms of the company’s history in addition to their visual attraction. Due to their complex production, the number of cars produced was also very low, in contrast to the sales price at the time. Of all the variants of the W111 series, the 250 SE Cabriolet was built in the smallest number, in fact only 954 cars were made.

For me, this Mercedes model is one of the most beautiful convertibles that have ever been built.

Note: In the film «Where love falls …» a brown 250 SE convertible by Beau Burroughs (alias Kevin Costner) is driven. 

Model Details:

According to the Daimler AG production data card, the car left the Sindelfingen plant on December 20, 1965. It was delivered to the Berlin branch. The first owner had a holiday home in southern Switzerland and consequently brought the car to Switzerland. After three years he sold the car to buy a newer model. The car came to Morgarten am Ägerisee in the canton of Zug. The second owner (born in 1911) drove the car just over 8,000 kilometers in eleven years. He was only allowed to open the top once, it was much too windy for his wife.

I bought the car on August 22, 1981 and am the third owner. In the almost 40 years of ownership, I have had countless beautiful trips, journeys and memories. Driving may be the correct term, but floating seems more appropriate. 

The Mercedes 250 SE Cabriolet has never let me down. Whether driving over Swiss mountain passes, along many lakes, to Germany, to Italy and several times to the Côte d’Azur – everything always ran smoothly. It is an absolute quality product – which today’s cars simply cannot compare. The technology is durable and robust. The comfort is indescribable. You feel free and comfortable, not cramped like in today’s cars. I have owned a 250 SE Coupé built in 1967 for a good five years and I can absolutely confirm my statements regarding quality and comfort for this car.

It may be that connoisseurs prefer a «flat cooler», especially a 280 SE 3.5 model. Sure: It is the ultimate in development, the engine and the equipment. But I definitely don’t want to miss my 250 SE Cabriolet. Every trip is like floating on cloud nine.