The Mercedes-Benz 300S was one of the world’s most exclusive automobiles between 1951 and 1958, introduced at the 1951 Paris Auto Show based on the stately Mercedes-Benz 300 sedan. The W186 300 was Mercedes-Benz’s first all new post-war automobile design, considered, then and now, to be one of the finest engineered automobiles of its era. While the 300 set standards for luxury and performance, the engineering and platform also gave rise to the exemplary, limited production 300S and the later 300SL racing and sports cars. The Mercedes-Benz 300 series re-established the German automaker’s pre-war reputation as one of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers, engineering and building high-performance luxury cars, often by hand, utilizing the finest materials. The 300S was intended more than a little to recall the great pre-war 500K and 540K sports luxury models. The comparison is apt. The 300S shared most of the components of the 300, but rode on a shortened 114.2-inch wheelbase to enhance handling and offered the most powerful engine available, a 3.0-liter ohc in-line six tuned to provide 150 hp and 178 ft-lb of torque with three dual-throat Solex carburetors for the early S model. The chassis features independent suspension and power-assisted brakes on all four wheels.
Even the proportions of the 300S recall the great pre-war Mercedes, successfully creating a bridge between classic pre-war and post-war styles. The real greatness of the 300S, though, came in production. The 300S was offered in two-seat coupe, cabriolet and roadster body styles, with a total of only 580 examples constructed including just 216 coupes. The bodies were entirely hand-built and trimmed by the most senior craftsmen at Mercedes’ Sindelfingen body works. The same craftsmanship and attention to detail are apparent in the interiors. The entire dashboard save for a polished strip locating the switchgear is handmade from burled walnut. The wood trim covers the windshield surround and the top of the doors before continuing in an exquisite, uninterrupted loop across the top of the occasional rear seat. Seats, door panels and the lower dash panel are covered in the highest quality leather, pleated on the seats and doors.
The 300S was both rarer and more expensive than a 300SL when new. Celebrity owners included Aga Khan, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant. This example, finished in DB157 Grau Beige with green leather, was delivered new to the US, on March 16, 1954 as a “direct sale” from Mercedes to Mr. Hatch. Mr. Hatch's Mercedes Coupe arrived looking identical to how we see it today, an undeniably elegant combination, a statement of both its period and the classy tastes of its owner. Fanatically restored some years ago, and showing just 68 miles since restoration, the condition belies the age of the restoration, instead it appears to be very recent, and is difficult to fault. The car runs and drives very well, and retains its original matching number motor. The panel fit, paint and exterior trim are all to the highest standards. The wide whitewall Firestone bias ply tires are correct to the era. The interior is extraordinary, particularly in the pleasing contrast between the burl walnut trim and the green hides. In the day, 300S interiors were compared favorably with contemporary Rolls-Royces and the same is still true today. There is nothing to criticize. The Becker Mexico radio mounted in the dash and all controls work properly. Both the interior and the underhood area display an extraordinary level of detailing with factory delivery tags and service decals, including the break-in instruction decal affixed to the inside of the windshield. The trunk is similarly flawless, with a single spare providing additional space compared with the dual-spare option. Included with the car is a copy of the build record, as well as a set of factory tools.
This is an exceptional automobile that would be welcomed at concours d’elegance, priced at a fraction of the ever-increasing prices of 300SLs and more comfortable, but valued exponentially more than 300 Sedans. Mercedes contemporary marketing described these Coupes as being 'for connoisseurs with individual taste' - a sentiment which surely holds true to this day.
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