Introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 1961, the top-of-the-range W112 was sold to the public as the 300SE, the ultimate Mercedes in the early 1960s. While sharing the same platform and timelessly elegant, Paul Bracq designed bodywork as the W111 220, the W112 coupe and convertibles were fitted with the smooth, powerful, fuel-injected M189 Type big-block straight -six power unit. They were also equipped with advanced self-levelling pneumatic rear suspension, power steering and automatic transmission along with a more luxurious interior. Externally, the W112 could be distinguished by significantly more brightwork as well as larger 14-inch wheels.
There was a choice of four-speed manual or automatic transmission, while a 300SE fixed head was good for 200km/h and 100km/h could be achieved in 12 seconds. Costing nearly twice as much as a 220SE, more than a Rolls-Royce at the time, a 300SE was always going to be an exclusive purchase. Indeed, just 3127 were made before the long-established body style left the catalogue. Relative rarity and enduring good looks mean therefore that these forever classic Mercedes models have become highly sought after.
Painted in metallic grey with metallic silver painted roof, this 300SE Coupe still delivers an impressive turn of speed, says the vendor, the fuel-injected six turbine-smooth and the 4-speed transmission allowing the car to pull away in second and changing into fourth if a small throttle opening is used. Floor it, he says, and when far away from the 70mph limit of course, all 4-gears deploy automatically to reach up to 120mph in no time at all. For this particular 300SE has a proven rally pedigree, having been a class winner on both the 2011 and 2013 Winter Challenge Historic Rallies to Monte Carlo, and finished an outstanding 5th overall in the Classic category and second in class on the gruelling Road To Mandalay from Raffles Hotel Singapore to Burma in February.
With nicely patinated red leather and lots of wood within, and with the unusual and once expensive option of an electric sunroof, this is a classic motor car for every occasion. A file of invoices from marque specialist Adams Automotive in Norfolk records the amount of care and attention that has been expended on its welfare in recent years. In the interests of being able to travel vast distances far away from an M-B technician, the complex air suspension, the Achilles heel of the 300SE, has been changed to traditional steel springs. The air pump is still present however and the suspension could be returned to original specification.
Since the latest Oriental marathon, and prior to a recent MOT test pass, the car has been extensively serviced with oil and filter change, cylinder head removal for re-facing, de-coking, re-seating the valves, renewal of valve stem seals and head gasket, points, rotor arm and front disc brake pads, while the radiator has been check-put by a specialist. This 48 year old from Stuttgart, which is exempt from historic vehicle road tax, would certainly appear to be ready for the next adventure.