1953 MERCEDES-BENZ 300S CABRIOLET
Chassis No. 188010 00171/53
Engine No. 188920 00178/53
Silver with red interior
Engine: six cylinder, in-line, single overhead camshaft, 2,996cc, 150bhp at 5000 rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual, all synchromesh; Suspension: front, independent with coil springs, rear, single pivot swing axle with coil springs; Brakes: four wheel servo assisted hydraulic drums. Left hand drive.
Mercedes-Benz fans all over the world doubted whether the manufacturer could recover from the wartime bombings, but by the early 1950s they were producing not only trucks but a full range of cars, including a luxury model, the 300 sedan. This was immediately successful, and soon the directors of Daimler-Benz AG decided that there was a market for a luxury sports model as well.
First exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1951, the Mercedes-Benz 300S was designed for the discerning sports car enthusiast. The car set new standards of excellence far above contemporary cars of the day. Three body styles were available: the Coupe, Roadster and Cabriolet. Each car was hand-finished to exacting standards and the interior design and fittings were of the finest materials. For example, the dashboard with full complement of instruments was of Carpathian burled elm wood. Top grade leather adorned the cabin and luxury pile carpet was used throughout. The Cabriolet featured a fully padded convertible top. Personal luggage (if specified) fitted neatly between the two spare wheels in the trunk. Priced at $14,000, few had the means to sample ownership; nonetheless the 300S was built to Mercedes-Benz's typically uncompromising standards and showed it handsomely. The 300S Cabriolet was a comfortable two-plus-two capable of 110mph and was elegant either with the roof up (at which point the profile was complimented by chromed landau bars) or when down. It should also be noted that the same, potent in-line six was to provide the engine that went on to power the 'uber-successful' 300SL racers which dominated endurance competitions of the mid-1950s.
These gorgeous sports-luxury cars were built for the rich and famous. With a price tag of about $12,500, they were the top-of-the-line Mercedes, ten times the price of the standard American luxury car. Movie stars such as Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby bought 300S models, as did many other prominent figures including the Shah of Iran, the Aga Khan and the King of Jordan. Unfortunately, production of the lovely short chassis 300 models ceased in 1957 because each car was so labor-intensive that Daimler-Benz lost money on every car they manufactured. Between July 1952 and September 1955 a mere 560 cars of the three body styles were built, with the cabriolet then priced at 34,500DM.
Although the early history of this stunning Mercedes-Benz 300S is not known, documentation exists that it spent the late 1960s in the hands of chemist William Pritchard. Dozens of insurance papers and service records show that the car was well cared for during the time spent in Switzerland, Spain and England before heading to the United States. In the early 1970s the 300S was imported first to Oklahoma and then Texas where it resided roughly 20 years with Bruce Sasse of San Antonio. The current owner purchased the car from Mr. Sasse in 1999 and brought it to California where in 2000 the car commenced a careful, three-year restoration that yielded a breathtaking result. The car was originally black with pewter interior, but its current livery since the restoration is silver with a striking red interior. The fit and finish has been attended to with a great degree of detail and luggage was made especially for the car to match the red leather interior.
The car has been well received in events and shows and has won a number of awards. In a recent outing the car proved to drive as beautifully as it looks and we consider the car ideal either for concours display where we expect it to score highly or enjoyable touring.