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The 300 D Cabriolet
Far more becoming of the brand’s pre-war luxury reputation than the utilitarian models made during the late 1940s, Mercedes-Benz’s 300 series of 1951 was a true luxury sedan built on a long wheelbase of near-limousine proportions. Equipped with a stout three-liter inline six, the 300 offered hand-built quality and smooth performance.
In 1957, the ultimate variant appeared in the 300 D, the first 300 to offer Bosch fuel injection and an optional three-speed automatic transmission. The new induction resulted in improved power, with the engine now developing 160 hp and propelling the car to a top speed of over 100 mph. Though nearly 3,100 sedans were produced between 1957 and 1962, just 65 open cars were made during this period, making the 300 D Cabriolet one of the rarest and most elegant luxury cars of the era.
This sensational 300 D Cabriolet is one of just 16 manufactured in 1961, with construction completed on August 14, 1961, as reflected by a copy of the original factory build sheet. Considering that only one cabriolet was produced in 1962, it is reasonable to assume that this example is one of the very last of these cars built. The factory documentation also demonstrates that this car was originally finished with black paint and trimmed with a red leather interior, the authentic livery that it wears today.
According to an article written by former owner Willem van Huystee in the July/August 1991 issue of The Star, the Mercedes-Benz Club magazine, this cabriolet was ordered new by a distinguished woman living in Virginia named Antoinette. Tony, as she was known to friends, personally traveled to the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart to accept delivery of the 300 D, which she quickly employed in all manners of transport on her country estate.
Mr. van Huystee purchased the car in February 1989, and immediately began researching its history, eventually putting him in touch with Tony’s niece. The owner carefully restored the beautiful cabriolet over the next two years, eventually reuniting the car with Tony’s extended family for a luxurious afternoon cruise.
In March 2003, the Mercedes-Benz was acquired by Don Williams, the esteemed founder of the Blackhawk Collection. Well-versed in classic Mercedes-Benz, and having owned five examples of the 300 D Cabriolet over the years, Mr. Williams attests that this car was the finest he has ever seen. Sold from Blackhawk several months later to Irving Marks of Houston, Texas, the 300 D was purchased in 2006 by the consignor, a collector based in Ohio with a passion for the Mercedes-Benz 300 Series.
The beautiful car was already in a showready state, and the consignor enthusiastically presented it at some of the area’s best events, including The Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, where it earned a class award in 2007 and 1st place in the German Postwar Touring class in 2009. A trip to the 2008 Keeneland Concours d’Elegance in Lexington, Kentucky, also yielded a Best in Class award.
In 2010, seeking to elevate the car to the highest possible level, the consignor commissioned some restorative measures by marque specialist Bob Platz, whose Precision Autoworks in Camden, New Jersey, has been noted by Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts and concours judges. Mr. Platz spent 15 months rebuilding the engine and addressing cosmetic issues of authenticity, renewing the car to factory-correct condition worthy of national exhibition.
Completing the work in early 2011, the Cabriolet was presented at the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and received the Mercedes-Benz Star of Excellence Award for the Most Elegant Mercedes-Benz. In July, the car took home a Best in Class award at the St. John’s Concours at Meadow Brook and, two months later, earned an Award of Distinction at the Glenmoore Gathering.
In May 2013, the 300 D was submitted for evaluation to Pierre Hedary, the technical advisor for the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and proprietor of an eponymous business specializing in the repair of Mercedes-Benz made between 1947 and 1993. Mr. Hedary confirmed the presence of the car’s original motor and correct gearbox, and attested to the quality of Mr. Platz’s restoration in a letter dated May 9.
He took the opportunity to service the cabriolet as needed, including adjusting the valves and inspecting the timing chain; installing new ignition points and plugs; performing a basic fluid service with new fuel and air filters; repacking the front wheel bearings; lubricating the brake cables and pedal pivot; and inspecting the brakes, lubrication systems, and throttle and shift linkages. Additionally, Mr. Hedary performed three important repairs: replacing the thermostat, elongating a brake-pedal rod for proper pedal travel, and tuning the fuel injection pump for correct mixture.
Now exhibiting pristine cosmetic quality and mechanical preparation, this rare 300 D Cabriolet is accompanied by custom luggage, tool kit, owner’s manuals, restoration receipts and photos, and the letter of attestation from Mr. Hedary. It is a superlative example of one of Mercedes-Benz’s most desirable post-war open tourers, optimally prepared for a national concours or luxurious cruising of unparalleled character. This is unquestionably one of the finest 300 Ds in existence, only bettered by its rarity as a late cabriolet variant.