Advertised in period as “The Most Elegant Motorcar in the World”, the W189 Mercedes-Benz 300-series was regarded by many to be the finest engineered and constructed automobile of its time. Early on in production, the 300 earned the nickname “Adenauer”, from the German Chancellor of the same name who had no fewer than six in his fleet. Typically for Mercedes-Benz of the same era, the 300 was substantially strong and overbuilt. Revised and enhanced through several series, the final iteration being the W189, or the 300d, had several distinct features that set it apart from earlier models. For starters, 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 now fitted with Bosch fuel injection derived from the 300SL sports car. The wheelbase grew by four inches to align the car with the likes of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud and afford rear seat occupants plenty of additional legroom. The chassis was so strong, that Mercedes-Benz used a pillar-less design that gave a very stately and elegant appearance with all four windows lowered. When it was new, the 300d cost three times that of a similar Cadillac, showing this was a serious automobile reserved for the wealthiest of clientele.
The chassis design was in line with contemporary Mercedes-Benz design, to include independent front and swing-axle rear suspension. The swing axle was well proven but it did have some drawbacks, mainly a propensity to suddenly change camber under load and upset the handling. 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. From the 300d, all U.S.A. 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 than its earlier brethren.
This stately and handsome 1960 300d is a very fine, exceptionally well-preserved example of the famous Adenauer sedan. Originally delivered to Europe, it was fitted from new with the very rare Webasto steel sunroof with integrated wind deflector, and still wears its factory original red fabric interior. The large body is very straight and solid, showing evidence of one repaint in its original and attractive slate gray. As one should expect from an unrestored Adenauer, the panel fit and finish is exemplary and the doors open and close with a satisfyingly vault-like feel. Mercedes-Benz used chrome-on-brass for much of the exterior brightwork, meaning it has withstood the test of time beautifully. The bumpers are straight and solid, as are the full polished and painted stainless wheel covers.
Inside the opulent cabin is stunningly well-preserved red velour upholstery. There are no rips or excessively worn areas, showing that this was both an exceptionally well-built and well-maintained automobile. Likewise, the original carpets show little wear, only a pleasing patina that comes with gentle long-term care. A Becker Mexico radio resides in the dash and extensive wood trim presents in very original condition, heavily patinated yet completely intact and still delightfully attractive. It would almost be a shame to refinish the woodwork as it wears its age with such dignity.
The 3-liter inline-six runs well and pulls nicely through the four-speed transmission. Underhood detailing is not fussy, appearing well maintained but not overly detailed. This car has been carefully used and properly maintained and it shows both inside and out. Equipment includes the original jack, spare wheel, original manual in the pouch as well as an original workshop service manual.
Few motorcars of this era offer luxury in such a grand fashion, whether travelling with the family or arriving for official state business. With loads of room and unbeatable comfort, this would make a very fine choice for touring and driving events. Only 3,077 similar cars were produced through early 1962 and few have survived in such wonderfully well-preserved condition with well-known long-term ownership. As when new, this 300d “Adenauer” remains a very exclusive and highly desirable automobile.
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