In the wake of suffering huge losses during World War II, Mercedes-Benz worked feverishly throughout the late 1940s and into the 1950s to reestablish itself as an industrial powerhouse. By the mid-1950s, the product catalog was vast and diverse, ranging from humble taxicabs and heavy trucks to luxury cars suitable for heads of state. The flagship of the fleet was the 300, known internally as the W186, first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1951. Based on a robust X-shape chassis with independent front suspension and a swing-axle rear end, the car featured handsome sedan or cabriolet coachwork – elegantly and stately yet decidedly modern. Despite the steep asking price of DM19,900 ($4,720) or DM17,600 without tires (a post-war rubber shortage left it up to the buyer to fend for tires!), the orders piled up rapidly. As Mercedes was still rebuilding its production capacity, even German customers were placed on a waiting list. Perhaps the best-known champion of these big, flagship Mercedes was German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who maintained a fleet of six different versions of the big 300 during his 1949-1963 tenure. Such was his association with these elegant automobiles that the cars soon earned the nickname “Adenauer.”
In 1957, the W186 evolved into the W189, retaining the proven X-frame chassis, but now fitted with an updated 3.0 liter inline six with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, adapted from the 300SL sports car. Revisions to the styling brought a fresh look that maintained the elegance of the original, thoughtfully freshened for the new decade. With an additional four inches added to the wheelbase, the 300d was just slightly longer than its chief rival, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The 180 horsepower overhead cam inline-six mated to a Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, and with a massive cooling system and thermostatically controlled oil cooling, it could sustain long periods of high-speed cruising or stop-go urban traffic with equal aplomb. As with its predecessor, the W189 300d was hand-built in small numbers. With 3,077 sedans and a mere 65 four-door cabriolets built, exclusivity was assured, and the 300d became a favorite among heads of state, captains of industry, and movie stars alike.
This 1959 300d Cabriolet is a marvelous example of Mercedes-Benz’s iconic luxury car. The four-door Cabriolet one of the most desirable models in the Adenauer range, with stunning presence and exceptional rarity – as it is one of just 22 cabriolets built in 1959, out of a total production of only 65 units. This original US-market example comes recently from an extensive private collection, and it presents in an elegant dark, non-metallic green with black interior trim and a black hood. It features an attractive, well-maintained older restoration with high-quality paintwork and excellent, straight panels. The paint has a deep gloss, with only a few minor imperfections and touch-ups accounting for the car’s careful and occasional use. The extensive chrome and brightwork are in similarly fine order, appearing straight and with excellent finishing. Bumpers, headlight trims, and the proud, upright radiator grille present in excellent order, with only minor polish marks visible upon close inspection. The convertible top is covered in correct-type German canvas and includes a matching boot. It retains appropriate Bosch lamps all around and rides on proper chrome wheels with color-keyed hubcaps and wide-whitewall cross-ply tires.
Passengers enjoy opulent, wood-and-leather trimmed accommodations. The generous seats are trimmed in black leather, and display a wonderful character with light creasing and a pleasing luster. The door cards are upholstered to match, capped with beautiful wood trim that wraps around to include the dash and windscreen pillars. The dash features original instruments, switches, and bright metal trim, along with the signature ivory two-spoke steering wheel, while a modern stereo is discreetly concealed behind a matching wood panel. Additionally, electric windows have been added for convenience.
Verified by the Mercedes-Benz data card, this car retains its original engine, which is in strong running order. The sophisticated Bosch fuel injection remains in place, and the engine features power steering as well as updates for the trunk-mounted Arti-Kar air conditioning system, namely, a modern-style rotary compressor. Backing the engine is the preferred automatic transmission, which allows for the ultimate luxury motoring experience. The presentation of the big 3.0-liter engine is excellent, with high quality painted finishes on the air cleaner and ancillaries, plus numerous period correct decals and labels. Aside from the A/C unit, the generous trunk houses the spare wheel, jack and lug wrench, and features the original rubber lining.
With its lovely presentation, this car earned an Award of Excellence at the 2017 Classic Sports Sunday concours, part of the prestigious Palm Beach Cavallino Classic. It is a beautiful example of this rare, exquisitely engineered, and highly desirable Adenauer; ready for enjoyment on the road or for display in regional concours events where its exceptional rarity and commanding presence can be appreciated.