After World Battle II, Mercedes-Benz wished to re-establish its place within the automotive hierarchy, to create a automobile that, within the phrases of the board chairman on the time, Wilhelm Haspel, “gold-plates the name Mercedes-Benz again.”
The model’s place within the German market had been devastated by a protracted pause in car improvement whereas it produced munitions for the Nazis, and by Allied bombing of its factories. Its place within the European market had been corroded by this wartime collusion, together with its widespread use of conscripted labor from focus camps. And it barely had a presence in North America.
It persevered by the late Nineteen Forties, like many world automakers, with barely up to date variations of prewar designs, in its case the 170, a slightly unremarkable coupe with a small four-cylinder engine.
“This was a very basic model, the 170,” stated Michael Kunz, the director of the Mercedes-Benz Basic Middle in Irvine, Calif., an organization subsidiary devoted to the historical past, preservation and restoration of the model’s classic merchandise, which date again to 1886. “Historically, we are not known as a basic-car company, so it was important to show a resurrection as a leading producer of luxury goods and highly engineered vehicles.”
The end result was the Mercedes 300 sedan and convertible. Revealed on the Frankfurt Motor Present within the spring of 1951, the 300 sported a stately design, with a outstanding chrome grille, a protracted formal hood, bulbous fenders that flowed into and out of the entrance and rear doorways, a capacious cabin lined in high quality supplies, and a tapered rear. It was the most important and quickest manufacturing automobile in West Germany, identified in Mercedes’s parlance as a “Representative Class” car.
“These were typically cars that were driven and owned by captains of industry and heads of state,” Mr. Kunz stated. “Absolutely the best of the best.”
Brian Rabold, vp for valuation companies on the basic car insurer Hagerty, concurs. “These would have been comparable to a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud or Bentley R-Type,” he stated.
They might be had with radio telephones, dictation machines, writing desks, intercoms, partitions between driver and passengers, and customized trim finishes. “If the party ordering it wanted it, the factory would make every attempt to accommodate it,” Mr. Kunz stated.
The pope was chauffeured in a specifically constructed Landaulet model, with a retractable high over simply the rear compartment — an area that contained a single thronelike seat.
Ella Fitzgerald, Gary Cooper and Errol Flynn all purchased 300s in the course of the automobile’s 11-year manufacturing run (simply over 11,000 had been constructed). Konrad Adenauer, the primary chancellor of West Germany, special-ordered a half-dozen 300s throughout his 14-year tenure.
“He toured the country in them,” Mr. Kunz stated, “and that’s how they came to be nicknamed Adenauer Benzes,” a moniker that sticks to this present day.
The 300 was launched with a clean, 115-horsepower, 3.0-liter straight six engine, and went by three revisions throughout its run. The 300b of 1954 upped energy to 125 horses. The 300c of 1955 provided the model’s first computerized transmission, a should for introduction into the American market.
And the 300d of 1957 added a extra fashionable and rectilinear physique that integrated a nine-inch stretch, almost half of which went to the rear passenger compartment. It additionally shed the facet window pillars. This gave the automobile a grand and ethereal profile, enhanced by its new fuel-injected engine, which produced 160 horsepower.
“From a power perspective, they’re not sports cars,” Mr. Kunz stated of the Adenauers, which weighed over two tons. He characterised them as a substitute as splendid autobahn cruisers. “It takes a while to get there, but you can go 90 miles per hour no problem,” he stated.
That is partly as a result of the automobile’s engine, and different drivetrain bits, was shared with one other stellar postwar Benz. “They provided much of the technology that was used to produce the 300 SL,” Mr. Kunz stated, referring to the remarkably superior Mercedes Gullwing racecar and coupe of the mid-Fifties.
The truth that Adenauers will not be sports activities vehicles has helped hold their values approachable. “They violate a couple core collector car principles,” Mr. Rabold stated. “They have four doors, instead of two. And they’re more grand touring, rather than sporting.”
He continued: “I think that it comes down to an emphasis on craftsmanship instead of showmanship. They’re very refined cars, but they’re subtle in their refinement.”
Thus, in response to Hagerty, whereas “average” Gullwings are $900,000 vehicles, and top-notch ones can fetch $1.2 million, common Adenauers run round $42,000, and ideal ones may be had for beneath $100,000.
Additionally contributing to the 300’s restricted collectability is the price of sustaining and repairing one.
“With these cars, there’s more of everything,” Mr. Kunz stated. “A lot of chrome, a tremendous amount of leather, complicated and very beautifully done wood on the interiors. If you have a convertible, the padded roof, a very large roof, there are issues with that.”
He went on: “And they have a very complicated body structure with very tight tolerances. When I show the car to someone, I always say look at the transition from front fender to the front door, and look at what the gaps are. The gaps are like two or three millimeters. It’s challenging to get that right.”
The present retail values of those vehicles thus don’t assist the expense of high-end restorations, which might run properly into six figures.
“There was one sedan we did where the customer brought it to us in very poor shape,” Mr. Kunz stated. “He said, ‘I know I should have my head examined for restoring this,’ but he had owned the car for many years, and that was the emotional bond. He saw himself as steward of the car, and felt it was his responsibility to do it.”
That worth proposition is likely to be shifting. “We show that values on these have gone up around 25 percent over the past two years,” Mr. Rabold stated.
This has been pushed partly by elevated curiosity from an atypical viewers. To measure curiosity and attraction, Hagerty tracks insurance coverage quote requests on particular autos, with the concept that if somebody is looking for protection for a specific automobile, that individual is both getting ready to purchase one or has simply purchased it.
“In 2018, Gen Xers accounted for only 12 percent of quotes on Adenauer Mercedes,” Mr. Rabold stated. “But in 2020, that was 32 percent. So that shows that there’s some youth appeal, and I think that’s what’s contributing in part to values going up, as they start to be discovered a little more.”
In case you’ve been available in the market, it’s a superb time to purchase, particularly should you discover a automobile that another person has paid to deliver again to life.
“These are a really great combination of luxury and engineering. They’re overbuilt. They’re really quality cars,” Mr. Rabold stated. “If you can find a restored one of these, it’s a great value.”