Photos and text Courtesy: Ricardo Alarcón Jiménez / Mexico City, Mexico
1955 Mercedes-Benz Type W186 300 "Adenauer"
Overview of the 1951-1962 Mercedes-Benz Type 300
Mercedes-Benz first unveiled the Type W186 300 series (no letter designation) and cabriolet four-door model at the 1951 Paris exhibition auto show. Its unique appearance and features, in comparison to previous post-war models, were a huge success, gaining instant appeal by State governments, celebrities, and wealthy businessmen. Features included the X frame chassis of prior models, a six cylinder, overhead valve, carbureted engine to compensate for its 2.5 ton weight, central lubrication system of the 170 model, swing axle, and rear load leveler.
Unique options included several different Becker radio models, VHF short-wave telephone, dictation machine, seven basic M-B colors, Webasto folding and metal sunroofs, custom-ordered combination of wood trim types, leather or cloth seats, and carpeting. The models used by Dr. Konrad Adenauer had further custom features including window curtains, divider window, magazine/newspaper nets, writing/eating trays, document storage, lighted mirrors, fog lamps, sirens, and flag holders.
The Type W188 300S model, also introduced at the Paris auto show in the autumn of 1951, produced between 1951 and 1958, at a production of only 760 models, of which sales began in July 1952, offered a 2+2-seater, built in three versions as a coupé, convertible or roadster with lowering folded top. Often considered inspired by the Type 540K of the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz raised the engine compression over the Type 300 to 7.8:1 using three Solex downdraft carburetors resulting in 150 hp at 5,000 rpm; meaning the car could exceed 100 km/h in less than 15 seconds and attain almost 180 km/h. The cabriolet model features huge chromed irons on the sides of its convertible top, with a tiny window slot in the back. Prices were between 34,500 and 36,500 DM. The 300S model was later replaced in production by the W188 300Sc which a featured fuel injected engine.
The term "Adenauer", as applied to the Mercedes-Benz 300 series sedan and cabriolet models produced from 1951 to 1962, is historically derived from the name, Dr. Konrad Adenauer, then chancellor of Germany, who used six of these 300 models during his tenure.
300b The next 300 series (produced 3/1954 - 8/1955) was the "b" model, featuring upgrades of the finned brake drum, a brake booster, and front door vents.
300c The "c" model was produced from September 1955 to June 1956, price at $10,864 USD. with a convertible version at $14,231. As of September 1955, DBAG introduced the new three-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission built under license by Detroit Gear. The rear wheels were driven by a single-pivot swing axle.
300d The "d" model, or Type W189 series (produced from November 1957 until March 1962, of which 3,077 units were made) featured increased engine performance, with a compression ratio of 8.55:1 went to 160 hp with the installation of Bosch fuel injection (from the 300Sc model).
Referred to as a hardtop limousine because all of the side windows, including frames, could now be lowered. It came equipped with wide whitewall tires (considered an Americanization marketing sales strategy) with a longer wheelbase, more angular rear fenders with enlarged taillights. Rear axle ratio was 1:4.67, tire size 7.60 x 15, top speed 165 km/h with 180 gross hp at 5,500 rpm. Many models were produced with the Borg-Warner automatic transmission. The massive front and rear bumpers took on a different profile over preceding models. Power steering and air conditioning ("Artic-Kar") were also introduced as options.
Total production of the six different model 300 series (from 1951-1962) was 12,290 units, with today's values dependent on model production scarcity and unique features, with the cabriolet models being most expensive to purchase. During the final era (the "d" model) of the 300 Adenauer series, DBAG had already laid plans to introduce a next generation 300 model with the Type W112 300SEb model, incorporating a different body appearance, unitized, with an M189 modified fuel injected engine, and air suspension.
Tool Kit for the 1951-1962 Mercedes-Benz Type 300
Created: January 27, 2011 / Jeff Miller
Revision B / February 12, 2011