Originally introduced in 1951 at the Frankfurt Show, the Mercedes-Benz 300 range was very much a flagship designed to promote the Stuttgart manufacturer as a producer of the finest luxury cars; a design it undoubtedly achieved, ultimately offering imposing and elegant six seater coachwork, in either closed or open form, allied to a smooth and powerful engine, fine road manners and cockpit-adjustable ride height.
Using a separate tubular cruciform chassis, the 300 boasted independent coil spring suspension all round, together with supplementary torsion bars at the rear and servo-assisted drum brakes, while transmission was a four-speed manual with column change. Power came from a 2996cc, straight six cylinder engine which, via a single overhead camshaft and twin Solex carburetors, produced 100 bhp - sufficient to propel the big four-door limousine, which weighed some 4,000 1bs, to a 98 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in 16 seconds.
During the '50s the engine underwent various improvements through constant development, power rising first to 115 bhp for 1953 and then to 135 bhp for the later 300B and 300C models, the latter also featuring new rear suspension with swinging half axles, a larger rear window and the option of automatic transmission for the first time. By the time the final 300D model appeared in 1956 it had Bosch fuel injection, similar to that used on the sensational 300SL sports car. Production of all 300 models ceased in 1962.
Finished in Mercedes Silver, this 300S Cabriolet A, the S denoting a more luxurious interior than standard, has come from the private collection of former Swiss Olympic ice hockey competitor, Hans Durst. Fastidiously maintained, and with a believed genuine mileage of just 36,560 miles, this stylish and majestic motor car benefits from a recent engine rebuild by Swiss specialists.
|1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S
The car pictured sold at Coys’ sale at the Klausenrennen in Switzerland on September 26, 1998 for $114,074 (including buyers commission and converted at the rate of U.S. $0.74 per Swiss Franc). A carbureted 300S can legitimately command nearly $200,000 in pristine restored condition, leaving the buyer of this highly original example at the low end of the decent 300S Cabriolet A range adequate room to upgrade the condition and presentation of his acquisition without exceeding its reasonable value.
The catalog description deals with 4-door M-B 300 series, demonstrating that it’s easy to confuse the suffixes applied to the early (’51-’62) 300 cars. The following chart attempts to clarify this nomenclature.
Except in multi-series workshop manuals, Mercedes-Benz never identified its 300 series by this lower-case a, b, c, d, but it has become common practice among collectors and thus is subject to some individuality in its application. The 300 nomenclature may be confusing, but the cars are highly desirable and satisfying to drive.
W. Robert Nitske’s “Mercedes-Benz Production Models Book 1946-1995” and further review, clarification, comments and amplification by Alex Dearborn at Sports Leicht in Topsfield, Mass. (978-887-6644) were essential in arriving at this summary. – Jim Schrager