Prior to the release of the spectacular 300SL sports car in 1954, the 300 Sedan and Coupe starred as the ultimate models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. The big 300 was among the finest and most luxurious automobiles available, competing with the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Cadillac for top honors among captains of industry and heads of state alike. Famously, the 300 found favor with Germany’s Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, who ordered a fleet of six custom bodied variants that he used during his fourteen year tenure. The car was thusly nicknamed Adenauer after its most influential and powerful admirer. Internally known as the W186, the big 300 was powered by a 2,996 c.c. SOHC inline six cylinder engine. Twin Solex carburetors fed the engine which produced 136 hp, feeding power through either a 4-speed manual or 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox. The robust power plant served as the basis for the legendary 300SL; canted over and fitted with Bosch mechanical injection and dry-sump lubrication for sports car duty. The W186 chassis featured independent front suspension along with a coil-sprung swing-axle in the rear. Handling and braking were excellent for a car of the 300’s size and many owners chose to drive rather than be driven. Given the clientele, a variety of custom and limited bodies were offered, including full and partial cabriolets and divider-window limousines. The 300B and 300C were eventually replaced by the slightly larger 300D which was different enough to necessitate a new chassis designation, W189, which continued through 1962 before being replaced by the highly advanced 600 saloons and limousines.
This striking 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300C wears a factory correct shade of Strawberry red, an attractive yet rather unlikely color for a car that was generally preferred by more conservative clientele. An included factory build sheet confirms this as the original, factory issued color (Code DB543). Beyond the unexpected paint scheme, it is also equipped with a wonderful full-length Webasto sunroof. Wearing an older, though extremely well-maintained restoration, it presents in excellent condition throughout. The quality of the restoration is apparent in the very strong and consistent panel fit and body work. These are notoriously difficult and complex cars to restore, and it is clear this car has benefited from expert attention. The exterior trim on the W186 is almost entirely chrome-on-brass, and on this car it is presented in very good order. We believe some trim items such as the window surrounds to be original, and while they show a few minor flaws, it hardly detracts from the overall sense of quality this car conveys. Mercedes’ stately radiator grille has excellent plating, and is flanked by a pair of original Bosch fog lamps mounted on the lower aprons. It rides on original steel wheels with chrome beauty rings and correct color-keyed chrome hubcaps. Blackwall bias ply tires are perfectly judged against the brilliant paintwork, and provide the proper stance and period correct look.
Complementing the strawberry red paint is a caramel tan interior which we believe retains original leather upholstery on the seats along with restored woodwork and newer carpets. The leather has been refurbished and presents quite well, and while the driver’s seat does show some moderate wear to the finish, the cabin remains quite pleasing and inviting. The blonde woodwork is a wonderful complement to the tan leather and exterior paint, and the vast wood dash is certainly a highlight of the interior. It is equipped a full array of original instruments, beautiful chrome switchgear, and the original VDO clock which sits proudly above the original Becker Mexico AM/FM radio. Rear passengers get to ride in comfort with a fold down armrest and clever windwings which keep buffeting to a minimum when the windows are open. Interior chrome fittings are up to the standard of the exterior, with beautiful quality finishing. The trunk is also nicely presented, with carpeted panels and a single spare wheel mounted in the right hand compartment. On the left side, a compartment houses a very rare factory spare parts kit.
Beneath the hood, Mercedes’ robust 3.0 liter inline six is very well presented with correct natural finish alloy castings and black finished inner panels. Decals on the cam cover, period-look battery and elsewhere add a high degree of factory-correct detail and the majority of hardware and clamps appear to be correct. It is exceptionally clean and tidy, showing careful maintenance since the restoration was completed. The optional Borg-Warner automatic shifts well, and the car performs effortlessly. This handsome and imposing Mercedes-Benz 300C is one of just 885 examples built in 1956 out of a total of 1,432 examples overall. It is a rare and very desirable example of Mercedes-Benz ultimate expression of mid-century luxury.
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