1960 Mercedes-Benz Adenauer300d "Adenauer" Sedan
To be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale event, April 1-3, 2016.
$ 50,000 - $ 65,000 US
Advertised in period as “The most elegant motorcar in the world,” the Mercedes-Benz 300d was regarded as the pinnacle of achievement in the art of manufacturing automobiles. The only support for the roof was provided by slender pillars of substantial strength (front and rear), and the four large windows lower completely out of sight, allowing an unprecedented panorama, and bestowing the 300d with a distinctive, regal appearance unmatched at that time by few, if any, other cars on the road.
The Mercedes 300d was a lengthened version of the earlier 300 models, and it was designed to be an executive’s limousine that would compete head-to-head with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The prestige vehicle received a slightly detuned version of the same engine that Mercedes installed in its 300SL sports car models. Earlier 300 models had come to be known as “Adenauer”, for the West German Chancellor who favored them as official transportation, and that prestigious nickname also carried over to the immense successor. The 300d was unparalleled in its time for comfort, as it had a vast interior that was swathed in a ship’s worth of hardwood and a herd of thick leather hides, with enough legroom for even the tallest passenger to achieve comfort.
From its introduction in 1951 through 1954, the car was referred to simply as the 300. Comprehensive improvements resulted in the 300b for 1954/1955, followed by the 300c for 1955/1957. By 1958, however, a virtually brand new 300 emerged, the 300d. A completely new body was designed featuring a four-inch longer wheelbase for improved ride and increased rear legroom. Styling remained conservative, but subtle details brought the design up to date.
The chassis adhered to current Mercedes-Benz practice, including the swing-arm rear axle design. Although providing the benefits of an independent rear suspension, loading changes altered rear wheel camber, an awkward-looking, if not unsafe, condition. The solution, introduced on the 300d, was a unique self-leveling device, consisting of electric motors actuating jackscrews that moved an extra pair of torsion bars. Unlike later systems, the 300d’s leveling system was driver controllable.
The new, longer hood gave the car a more graceful look, while providing room for an updated version of Mercedes-Benz’s 3-liter SOHC six-cylinder engine. Equipped with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, horsepower was increased to 180 horsepower. All U.S. delivered cars were fitted with a Borg Warner three-speed automatic transmission. Larger brake drums and a new brake booster increased the power assist, resulting in much improved stopping distances. With power steering now standard, the 300d offered a much better driving experience.
From the outset, the new 300 was intended to cater to the needs of the American market. The car’s outstanding quality was matched only by its breathtaking price – costing as much as three Cadillacs. The high price ensured exclusivity, and early customers ranged from renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to actor Yul Brynner. The cars were also the choice of distinction for royalty, captains of industry and heads of state, including the Shah of Iran and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, in whose honor the car would come to be referred to as simply “an Adenauer.”
The sedan being offered is presented in the stately combination of gray with red interior, having originally been delivered in Europe. The Adenauer is reported to have an uncommon factory sunroof, its original cloth interior, original carpets, original door panels, Becker Mexico radio, the more powerful fuel-injected engine, whitewall tires, spare, jack and original manual with pouch and original workshop service manual. The interior woodwork is mentioned as needing to be refinished.
This 300d fairly demands to be taken to the road, where it will continue to offer beyond-reproach comfort and elegance to its passengers. There are few cars of this era that offer luxury in such grand fashion, whether travelling with the family or arriving for the opening of Parliament. With only 3,077 similar cars produced through March 1962, the exclusiveness is all the more apparent.
1960 Mercedes-Benz 300d "Adenauer" Sedan