Post War Luxury
Designated model W186, the 300 was the first new model created by Mercedes-Benz after the destruction of industrial Germany during World War II. Most of the Daimler-Benz factory was destroyed and Stuttgart was in ruins after the Allied bombing.
Six years later, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 300 series sedan and four-door cabriolet at the 1951 Paris Auto Show. Its unique appearance, advanced engineering, and luxurious appointments made it extremely popular with heads of state and other moneyed dignitaries.
Americans and Royalty
From the onset, the 1951 Mercedes-Benz 300 was aimed at the American market. The car’s outstanding quality was matched only by its breathtaking price – it cost as much as three Cadillacs. But the price ensured exclusivity, and early customers ranged from renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to actor Yul Brynner.
The 300 was also the choice of royalty and heads of state, including the Shah of Iran and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who used six of them and in whose honor the car would come to be referred to as simply “an Adenauer.”
From its introduction, Mercedes called it the 300, but comprehensive improvements resulted in the 300b for 1954, followed by the 300c in 1955. In 1956, a virtually brand new 300 emerged, the 300d. A completely new body was designed featuring a wheelbase four inches longer for improved ride and increased rear legroom, and swing-axle rear suspension was introduced.
Fuel Injection arrives
The 300d’s longer hood gave the car a more graceful look, while providing room for an updated version of Mercedes-Benz’s 3-liter SOHC 6-cylinder engine. Equipped with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, horsepower was increased to 180. All U.S.-delivered cars were fitted with a Borg Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. With power steering now standard, the 300d offered a much better driving experience.
Luxury for the elite
The 300 was geared to the businessman and featured many luxury options including Becker radio, VHF mobile telephone, and dictation machine. Adenauer’s cars had a writing desk, sirens, curtains, and a division window. Styling remained conservative, but subtle details brought the design up to date.
The 300s were equipped with optional white sidewalls, while power steering and Artic-Kar air conditioning were other available options as was power steering.
Years Produced: 1957 – 1962
Number Produced: 3,077
Original List Price (1951 300 sedan): $6,980
Chassis # Location: Right side of firewall
Engine # Location: Top of left side of block
Alternatives: 1952 – 55 R-type Bentley, 1959 – 61 Jaguar Mk IX, 1958 – 64 Facel Vega Excellence
sports car market magazine
photography/daimler ag – mercedesheritage – simoncars.uk