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High-Class Top-Down: Maisto 1966 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet

In 1959, Daimler-Benz introduced the Mercedes-Benz 220 S 4-door sedan as the first vehicle in their W111-series. The car was later given the nickname Heckflosse referring to the small fins at its tail. In February 1961, the 2-door W111 Coupe made its debut at the 75th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart while the 2-door Cabriolet or convertible debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months later.

The W111 Coupe was launched during the 75th Anniversary of Mercedes-Benz in February 1961…

… while the W111 Cabriolet was revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show on September 1961.

Even though the 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe and convertible all share the same chassis and drivetrain, the exterior styling of the 2-door Mercedes featured a rear-end that was more square and subtle, which was the work of engineer Paul Bracq. The design of the w111 Coupe and the Cabriolet was more evocative of the styling of the subsequent W108-series instead of the sharp-edged tailfins of the sedan.

U.S. version 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

U.S. version 1971 280SE with 3.5-liter V8 (Photo courtesy of Car-from-UK.com)

The Cabriolet is basically the hardtop Coupe minus the fixed steel roof, which is replaced by a folding soft top. The fabric roof folds into a recess behind the rear seat and a tight-fitting leather boot, which is finished in the same color as the seats and covers the entire convertible roof and accompanying mechanism. Both the Cabriolet and the Coupe are powered by the same 2.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine.

1965 Mercedes-Benz 250S (W108-series)

In 1965, Mercedes-Benz launched W108-series and the design of the new car was based on the W111 Coupe. This is probably the reason why a lot of car enthusiasts make the common mistake of identifying the W111 Cabriolet and Coupe as a W108-series Mercedes.

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE

The company did not develop a 2-door W108 vehicle and decided to continue the production of the W111 Coupe and Cabriolet with modest changes. The 220SE was superseded by the 250SE in 1965, which was superseded by the 280SE in 1967.

Die-cast model car maker Maisto made a European version of the W111 Cabriolet with the clear plexiglass headlight covers. The model car was labeled as the “1966 Mercedes-Benz 280SE” but since the 280SE only came out in 1967, we would like to think that the model car was based on the prototype 280SE Cabriolet that was used by Daimler-Benz for the 1966 auto show season. Or we might be wrong and it was simply just a error made by the Maisto factory in Thailand.

Maisto model makers equipped the model car with several features like opening doors, front hood, and trunk lid. The front grill has the Mercedes-Benz tri-star emblem that we find a bit too thick for the scale. The grill can use a little black paint between the slats to make it more realistic. There are side mirrors on both doors while the full wheel covers are body-colored, just like in the actual W111 Cabriolet.

The red interior contrasts nicely with the white convertible body and features a detailed dashboard and instrument panel, a white steering wheel with horn ring, a floor-mounted gated gear selector for the automatic transmission, and front seats that fold forward with the center armrests. The seats appear to look like the red leather seats of the actual car while the floor appears to be covered with a red rubber floor mat instead of mimicking a carpet.

The hood opens to reveal what appears to be a representation of the 2,778 cc M130 inline-6 engine. With the hood open, the front of the car looks like a person without teeth, which is why the trademark Mercedes-Benz grill is an integral part of the car’s design and its elegance. The trunk lid opens to show the rear luggage compartment that looks as if it had a red rubber trunk mat. A set of scale-size red luggage would help make the trunk look realistic.

While not as detailed as the more expensive model kits, this Maisto W111 Cabriolet looks quite elegant with its white-and-red color combination. We learned that Maisto also released two other versions of this W111 scale model – a brown one with biscuit/tan interior and a silver one with blue interior. Whichever color you choose, this 1:18 scale model is priced reasonably so that you don’t have to spend a lot of money for the privilege of parking a Mercedes-Benz in your garage, err… display shelf.

To see other scale model cars and motorcycles that were previously posted in this section of the Power Wheels website, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar if you’re using a mobile phone. We hope you like our take on this high-class topless German. More model vehicles to come tomorrow!