1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SE Convertible
Chassis no. 112023-10-003469
Engine no. 189-986-12-00160
2,996cc inline six-cylinder
Bosch mechanical fuel injection
Rare four-speed manual transmission
Sophisticated specification for 1963
Top of the range Mercedes-Benz cabriolet
Carefully preserved, substantially original example
Mercedes-Benz took a bold step in 1960, phasing out the prestige 300 series that had been in production since 1951. The reason was as simple as rationalizing Mercedes-Benz production on platform chassis that had proven to be successful on the 220. The old 300's body-on-frame construction required separate assembly lines and increasingly under-utilized equipment to build old-fashioned frames. Production quantities had declined to only 603 in 1960 and 551 in 1961. Such volumes were not commercially viable, even in what was essentially an individually ordered semi-custom automobile.
The new 300SE was introduced in 1959 but production was delayed until early 1961. Built on the same 2,750mm wheelbase as the 220SE, it used the well-proved single overhead camshaft 2,996cc inline six with Bosch mechanical fuel injection and featured advanced mechanical features like four-wheel disc brakes and coil springs with load-compensating air suspension on the independent front suspension and single-pivot swing axle rear suspension. Interior appointments were lavish, in keeping with the positioning of the 300SE as the successor to the limited production first generation 300s.
In March 1962 Mercedes-Benz added a cabriolet and coupe to the 300SE's model range, two highly-prized examples of quality, performance and luxury. Produced in very limited numbers (only 3,127 combined coupes and convertibles in six years' production) the 300SE was destined to have a very short life before they were superseded by the 280SE 3.5 and 600.
Some sources have maintained that the 300SE Cabriolets and Coupes may have an additional advantage: engines assembled from components built for the 300SL and producing more than the stated 185 SAE horsepower. The engines were given different type numbers (M198 for the 300SL, M189 for the 300SE) but that doesn't preclude mixing some components in the interest of production economies and better performance.
In any event, the 300SE offered a stirring combination of luxury and performance along with technical specifications better than anything else of its era.
This 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SE Cabriolet is a lovingly maintained, largely original example with a rare and very desirable four-speed manual transmission. It is finished in white with bamboo leather upholstery and a black cloth top. Equipment includes full wheel covers, blackwall tires, Frigiking air conditioning and a Becker Europa stereo radio.
It is a carefully preserved car, not restored, in good running, driving condition. The paint and chrome are sound, the engine is not detailed. The interior is particularly inviting and is trimmed with highly varnished wood garnishes and moldings.
Combining healthy performance and a distinctive appearance with a number of 300SE-specific exterior trim features, comfortable interior and superior road holding, comfort and braking, the 300SE Cabriolet is one of Mercedes-Benz's more rare and unusual models and body styles. Indeed this is the rarest of all W111/1112 series coupes and cabriolets, with just 708 built it accounted for less than 2% of the total production of these stylish cars.
This one tells its own story of a succession of caring owners who have looked after it well and attended religiously to its needs.
- Please note that the chassis number for this vehicle is 112023-10-003769.