Mercedes-Benz Type 300 "Adenauer"

Jim Axman / / March 2, 2002


Two years prior to the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz "Ponton" models, the Type 300 "Adenauer" limousines were already being built by Daimler-Benz. They were different in many respects from the Ponton models, but to the casual observer, shared a similar outward appearance. The main structural difference was that the Type 300 had a separate body and frame. These traditionally luxurious, yet technologically advanced super-cars were primarily used by governments, heads of state, royalty, and other members of the heavy wallet brigade. Their engineering, luxury, high price and low production rates placed them at the very top of the already exclusive Daimler-Benz passenger vehicle hierarchy during the 1951-1962 period. Thanks to Jim Axman of Denver, Colorado for providing us with a glimpse in to the world of this fascinating Mercedes-Benz model.

Jeff Miller / March 2, 2002

Why are They Called the Adenauer Mercedes?

1957 Type 300d

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.

Type 300 Model History and Development

Mercedes-Benz first unveiled the W186 Type 300 series sedan (no letter designation) and cabriolet 4-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 6 cylinder overhead valve carburated engine to compensate for 2½ ton weight, central lubrication system of the 170 model, swing axle, and rear load leveler. Unique options included, several Becker radio models, VHF short-waved telephone, dictation machine, seven basic M-B colors, Webasto and metal sunroof, and a 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 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 540K of the 1930s, Mercedes raised the engine compression over the 300 model to 7.8:1 using three Solex downdraft carburetors resulting in 150HP at 5,000 RPM, meaning the car could exceed 100km/h in less than 15 seconds and attain almost 180km/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 300Sc, which a featured fuel injected engine.

The next 300 series (introduced in late 1954) was the "b" model, featuring upgrades of the finned brake drum, a brake booster, and front door vents.

1956 Type 300c

Photo: Jeff Miller / January 1988 / Camera: Yashica-Mat 124G / Outside the Wilder Building
Rochester, NY / Exchange Blvd. - just south of Main Street - car was facing north

The "c" model was produced from September 1955 to June 1957, price at $10,864 US. with a convertible version at $14,231. As of September 1955, DBAG introduced the new 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission built under license by Detroit Gear. The rear wheels were driven by a single-pivot swing axle.

Type 300d landaulet

The "d" model, W189 series (produced from August 1957 until March 1962, of which 3,077 units were made) featured engine performance, with a compression ratio of 8.55:1 went to 160HP, with the installation of Bosch fuel injection (from the 300Sc model). Referred to as the 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 x15, top speed 165 km/h. with 180 gross HP at 5500 RPM. Many models were produced with the Borg-Warner automatic transmission. The front and rear massive bumpers took on a different profile over preceding models. Power steering and air conditioning ("Artic-Kar") were also introduced as options.

Type 300 with custom luggage

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 300SE model, incorporating a different body appearance, unitized, with an M189 modified fuel injection engine, and air suspension.

Created March 2, 2002 / Jeff Miller

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