The grand and imposing 300 series was a landmark automobile for Mercedes Benz, not because it was one of the finest machines they ever built, or that it became the transport of choice for heads of state and captains of industry, but because it was the first totally new car to be produced by the Stuttgart company since the end of World War II. It is difficult to imagine a more appropriate machine with which to make a comeback statement. The W186 made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in April of 1951, with production commencing in November of the same year. It was initially available as a four-door limousine and a four door open cabriolet. The sweeping Hermann Ahrens-designed body sat upon a robust X-frame, all being powered by a 3-liter, overhead cam inline-six. The aluminum-head engine breathed through a pair of Solex carburetors and produced 115 horsepower. The engine was designed with heavy-duty service in mind, with careful attention paid to the cooling system and oiling systems. It even had a thermostatically controlled oil cooler to ensure quick warming and optimal operation in tough conditions. The 300 quickly earned the nickname “Adenauer” after German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who had no fewer than six custom-built 300’s in his fleet.
The rarest of the early 300 models is the four-door Cabriolet D, as is presented here. The quality of the construction was on par with the pre-war 540K. The 300 was trimmed in sumptuous leather, had stunning hand-finished hardwood detailing and triple-plated solid brass brightwork. The engineering was also on par with the great pre-war machines, a highlight being the vast, landau-iron assisted folding top and pillarless silhouette. Every one of the 591 Cabriolet D’s sold between 1951 and 1955 was hand built to order at the Stuttgart works, with a level of care and attention to detail that is still evident today.
Our featured 300 is an early example hailing from 1952. It was most recently part of the extensive collection of the late Mr. Fred Kemp. Mr. Kemp had amassed a large collection of some of the most important Mercedes-Benz automobiles which, following his passing, had been turned into the Kemp Auto Museum. Mr. Kemp understood the importance of preserving these grand cars. This 300 Cabriolet D is a fine example of that integrity, a fine older restoration that Mr. Kemp used and maintained, and that has recently had a mechanical recommissioning after its time spent in the museum.
It is beautifully finished in its original colors of black with a tan cloth top and boot, a very appropriate combination for the imposing body lines. The paint is overall very nice, with just some minor checking in areas. The restored interior is beautifully trimmed in dark red leather, the top and boot are gorgeous and proper Haartz cloth, and the wood, carpet and chrome are similarly fine. It sits proudly on a set of wide-whitewall tires with correct body-color wheel covers. A very unusual and fascinating 7-band Becker Nurburg radio resides in the dash. Under the hood the original, matching number 3-liter six sits in a restored and properly detailed engine bay. Backing the engine is a four-speed manual gearbox that is a joy to use once one gets accustomed to the column operated shifter.
Given their complexity, many of these great cars are restored and left to sit. But they are incredibly robust and a real joy to experience on the road, particularly with that massive convertible top folded. This is an absolutely beautiful motorcar that would certainly be showable, but more importantly, would reward all those who get to experience it on the go.
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