Phönix aus der Asche

Phoenix from the Ashes – The Mercedes-Benz 300 S (W 188) Coupe / Cabriolet / Roadster

“There’s a story in everything” … And so every automobile has its own history. However, there are also those that have a particularly outstanding contemporary historical significance such as the Mercedes-Benz 300 / W 186-188. First presented in 1951, the sedan version later went down in history as “Adenauer.”

We look back on the year 1947. Germany and its infrastructure are in ruins after World War II, people are starving, many are dying of malnutrition and freezing to death caused by one of the coldest winters of the twentieth century. Just two years after the end of the Second World War, Daimler-Benz AG’s Board of Management decides that despite – or perhaps because of – the bleak prospects for the future, a luxury saloon with the star will be developed and built to continue the tradition of the premium manufacturer. Also, the development of a racing car – the 300 SL – which should be based on the new series, was already decided on at this early stage. It was a decision that was difficult to understand at that time because life in Germany was about bare survival after the hour zero. But years later the decision turned out to be courageous and absolutely correct.

The new series was developed under the most modest conditions on the basis of existing pre-war units. Only four years later in 1951, first at the Frankfurt Motor Show as a sedan, and six months later at the Mondial l'Automobile in Paris under the designation 300 S, the vehicle was presented as a coupe and as a convertible and later followed by a roadster version.

What an incredible comeback for the Mercedes-Benz brand since in 1951, just six years after the war, the 300 SL, originally developed as a pure racing sports car, had won four out of five international races and the manufacturer from Untertürkheim had succeeded in an enthusiastic, international series with a prestigious range in the luxury segment causing a stir. A gig like phoenix from the ashes! Now, in order to maintain true neutrality, let the Swiss Automobil Revue from the time speak, which had “chased” a Mercedes-Benz 300 S Roadster 1952 on a distance of 3,000 km on the roads of Switzerland, Germany, France and England to check whether the car was worth its money or not. At that time, the top sporting model from Daimler-Benz – six times that of a Volkswagen beetle – cost DM 34,500.

And the test results from Switzerland were praised in almost exuberant formulations:

“Compared to the sedan on 150 HP performance-enhanced engine, whose performance almost matches that of pure-bred racing engines, it causes an outstanding power-weight and optimum comfort because of the chassis and suspension including the brake system that was also taken from the sedan. This is particularly impressive, because these great performances are shaken out of the sleeve with an elegant calm.” („Der gegenüber der Limousine auf 150 PS leistungsgesteigerte Motor, dessen Leistung fast an jene von reinrassigen Rennsportmotoren heranreicht, bewirkt ein hervorragendes Leistungs-Gewicht, das in Verbindung mit dem ebenfalls von der Limousine übernommenen, Chassis und dem Fahrwerk einschließlich der Bremsanlage zu optimalem Komfort und einer mustergültigen Straßenlage und entsprechendem Fahrverhalten führt. Beeindruckend vor allem auch deshalb, weil diese großartigen Fahrleistungen „mit vornehmer Ruhe aus dem Ärmel geschüttelt“ werden“.)

The summary of the automobile revue:

“With the Mercedes-Benz 300 S, its manufacturer has once again conquered one of the very highest ranks that international automotive engineering has to offer.” („Mit dem Mercedes-Benz 300 S hat sich sein Hersteller wieder einen der allerhöchsten Ränge erobert, den internationaler Automobilbau zu vergeben hat.“

And now the really good news:

We are very pleased to be able to offer you two examples of the extremely rare Mercedes-Benz 300 S series. A coupe from 1955 (216 times built) and a roadster from 1952 (141 times built). The roadster has the slightly lighter top without the then usual “storm bars” which makes this almost completely submerge in the rear. And it is, no matter in which version, a sight that not only takes the breath of those with the much-cited gasoline in the blood. It embodies a charisma that you cannot escape.

The 300 S, whether as a coupe, convertible or roadster has a downright majestic appearance. The proportions, captivating from every perspective, with the fenders swirling elegantly and far into the doors, the long bonnet with the “cathedrals” radiator mask and last but not least the luxurious interior made of perfectly arranged and processed leather and wood exude an incomparable nobility that inspires.

It is the culmination of an automotive design era that was interrupted by World War II and culminated in the early fifties. For in 1954, the new generation of “pontoon vehicles” with self-supporting body began.

Further information about the Mercedes-Benz 300 S Coupe and Roadster offered by us can be found on our website www.arthur-bechtel.com or at a personal appointment in our house.

Visit us in our new premises in the new V8 Hotel on the grounds of Motorworld in Böblingen and let yourself be inspired by an extraordinary classic of automotive history and other automotive treasures.

 

February 25, 2018

Claus-Henning Guthard