Mercedes 220SE Coupe & Cabriolet

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This month Aestheticons’ contributor, Grant Calton, glances at his back catalogue of cars owned to salute the Mercedes 220SE Coupe & Cabriolet, with more than a twinge of regret! 

There will always be folk who can’t see beyond a 280SL Pagoda (ideally 1968 in silver with blue leather) but for me, the ultimate definition of infinite Teutonic beauty, is the Mercedes 220SE Cabriolet. I had always cherished the notion of owning a 280SE 3.5 which, even 15 years ago, were sporting stratospheric price tags and so it was joyously that I found myself at a classic car auction in 2002 being the successful bidder on an immaculate 1962 model – shiny black with cream MB tex interior and plenty of wood dash (with a touch of woodworm perhaps) and all for £15k!

But enough of my dreamlike recollections and onto the history books. The 220SE Coupe was unveiled in late 1960 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Mercedes–Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

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The even more delicious Cabriolet followed shortly afterwards with its launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Characterised by it’s twin stacked headlights, the 2195cc 6-cylinder engine was perhaps a little under-powered for this heavy beast, producing 134Hp, but then in my driving experience it was very much a cruisey not racy experience. The UK price at launch was a deutschmark or two under £3500 – for comparison, Fords’ Classic – a mildly sporty sedan – was £724 at the time!

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There is something unspeakably perfect about the curved lines, the echo of a tail fin remaining from its predecessor, known as the Pontoon, and those twin headlights looked so futuristic yet stylish. And the seamless rag top design integration avoided that oft encountered issue of the convertible version of a coupe looking slightly unwieldy.

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From 1961 until 1965 2,729 220SE Cabriolets rolled out of Stuttgart, compared to 14,173 of the Coupes.

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It was briefly superseded by the 250SE until 1967 when the 280SE (and it’s 3.5 litre derivative) took centre stage. And how much do I regret selling mine in 2005 for £23k…. you’d be hard pushed to find one for under £60k in today’s market.

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Grey’s Anatomy star, Patrick Dempsey, in his 280SE 3.5.

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I am an English trained and experienced lawyer. I have lived with my wife and family for nearly twenty years in the “California of Europe” - at the tip of Southern Europe. I am a proud European and driven to evangelize about the quality of life to be enjoyed here.

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