One of Mercedes-Benz's first all-new designs of the post-war era, the 300 debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1951 and would succeed in re-establishing the Stuttgart firm in the front rank of prestige car manufacturers, marking as it did a return to the marque's tradition of building high-performance luxury automobiles of the finest quality.
The 300's cross-braced, oval-tube chassis followed the lines of the 170S and 220, with independent suspension all round and four-wheel drum brakes, but incorporated the added refinements of hypoid bevel final drive, dynamically balanced wheels and remote electrical control of the rear suspension ride height. Initially developing 115bhp, the 3-litre, overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine - used in fuel-injected form in the 300SL sports car - was boosted in power for the succeeding 300b and 300c models, finally gaining fuel injection in the re-styled 300d of 1957. Other improvements along the way included larger brakes (with servo-assistance from 1954), optional power steering (on the 300d) and the adoption of three-speed automatic transmission as standard on the latter.
Custom built by Mercedes-Benz's most experienced craftsmen, the 300 was luxuriously appointed and trimmed with materials of the highest quality. Fast and elegant, it was one of very few contemporary vehicles capable of carrying six passengers in comfort at sustained high speeds. It was the car of choice among West German government officials, and throughout Europe and the USA was widely favoured by businessmen, financiers and politicians. Indeed, 'Adenauer' became the 300 saloon/limousine's unofficial model name, after German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, its most famous customer.
This rare, right-hand drive Mercedes-Benz 300 saloon was exported new to Australia. In 2003 the 'Adenauer' was purchased by its first UK owner, who registered it with a cherished number ('OBK 781') which it still carries today. Although the car had been repainted and some refurbishment carried out, the engine and electrical system both required attention. After obtaining a quotation in the region of £6,000 for a rewire, the owner decided to dispose of the car, which was consigned to auction, reaching a new home in the North West of England, possibly during 2007.
The necessary remedial work appeared not to have progressed to any appreciable extent when the present owner came across the car in 2009. He struck a deal with the owner and started to organise the required refurbishment, entrusting the task to a local restorer. After a time the vendor became unhappy with the standard of work, and the vehicle was transferred to Martyn Marrocco of Malton, a specialist Mercedes-Benz restorer. A complete rewire had already been carried out to an excellent standard by a specialist, and Marrocco revisited all the previous mechanical and cosmetic work, stripping the engine for a second time to check it and rectify anything not up to his standards. The chassis and bodywork was checked and, although mostly sound and in good condition structurally, was repaired where necessary and then completely repainted. Brightwork was re-chromed and the woodwork refinished. New tyres were sourced from USA. Seat belts were installed front and rear, which entailed strengthening the 'B' posts and reinforcing the mounting points for the rears. A Becker radio was fitted, complete with iPod input, while other upgrades include a brake booster, windscreen wash/wipe, rear view mirrors and a leather interior. Completed in July 2013, the restoration is recorded on a CD-ROM of photographs contained within the accompanying documents file together with numerous receipts for parts, restoration, rewiring, etc, close inspection of which is recommended in order to appreciate the extent of the rebuild. Martyn Marrocco has sent photographs and details of the work to Mercedes-Benz, who intended to feature the car in their in-house magazine as an ongoing restoration.
Offered with the aforementioned documents file, current road find licence and Swansea V5, 'OBK 781' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a right-hand drive example of Mercedes-Benz's much sought after 1950s flagship at a most affordable price.