1961 Mercedes-Benz 300d “Adenauer”

From the onset, the 1951 Mercedes-Benz 300 was aimed at the American market. The car’s outstanding quality was matched only by its breathtaking price-it cost as much as three Cadillacs. But the price ensured exclusivity, and early customers ranged from renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to actor Yul Brynner. The 300 was also the choice of royalty and heads of state, including the Shah of Iran and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who used six of them and in whose honor the car would come to be referred to as simply “an Adenauer.”

From its introduction, Mercedes called it the 300, but comprehensive improvements resulted in the 300b for 1954, followed by the 300c in 1955. In 1956, a virtually brand new 300 emerged, the 300d. A completely new body was designed featuring a wheelbase four inches longer for improved ride and increased rear legroom, and swing-axle rear suspension was introduced.

The 300 was geared to the businessman and featured many luxury options including Becker radio, VHF mobile telephone, and dictation machine. Adenauer’s cars had a writing desk, sirens, curtains, and a division window. Styling remained conservative, but subtle details brought the design up to date.

The 300d’s longer hood gave the car a more graceful look, while providing room for an updated version of Mercedes-Benz’s 3-liter SOHC 6-cylinder engine. Equipped with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, horsepower was increased to 180. All U.S.-delivered cars were fitted with a BorgWarner 3-speed automatic transmission. With power steering now standard, the 300d offered a much better driving experience.

The 1961 300d Adenauer presented here is a highly original 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300d finished in black with red leather interior. It has never been restored, although it was partially repainted some time ago. This 300d, being a commendable running and driving example with 60,000 original miles, may be enjoyed as is, or it would make a fine candidate for a complete restoration.

Carl Bomstead

Carl Bomstead - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

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