26 - 31 October 2020
Lot 181

1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Roadster


£525,000 - £575,000 GBP | Not Sold

Netherlands | Tilburg, Netherlands



Chassis No.
Engine No.
German Fahrzeugbrief
  • An appealing example of Mercedes-Benz’s exclusive, hand-built luxury convertible
  • One of only 141 300 S Roadsters produced
  • Ivory over a tan interior; dark brown hood
  • Fitted with Becker Nürburg radio; accompanied by owner’s manual, luggage

Please note that this lot will need to be collected from Tilburg, Netherlands.

Mercedes-Benz’s successful efforts to reassert itself as a premier automaker in the years following World War II are typified by a trio of memorable “halo” models: The W186 Type 300 “Adenauer” range, which debuted in 1951, demonstrated Mercedes-Benz’s ability to compete with (and on some fronts, surpass) the offerings of the world’s finest luxury marques. The 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe, meanwhile, would arrive in 1954, establishing a reputation for performance that endures to this day.

The 300 S, and in particular the open-top 300 S Roadster, combined elements of both—and, with its breathtaking price tag, was ultimately the most exclusive of them all.

Introduced in 1951, the 300 S (W188) provided a sportier counterpart to the larger 300. Though the chassis was closely related to that of the W186, it was shortened some 25 centimeters. Power was supplied by an the uprated 150-horsepower triple-Solex-carburetted 2,996 cubic-centimeter M188 inline-six, predecessor to the M198 engine used in the 300 SL. Mated to a four-speed manual transmission, it provided ample power for high-speed touring.

Luxury, of course, was not sacrificed in the pursuit of enhanced performance. Each 300 S was built by skilled craftsmen and featured a cabin trimmed in high-quality materials. The rich wood dashboard featured a jewellike array of instrumentation and controls as well as a Becker Nürburg radio. Similar attention to detail was applied to the 300 S’ exterior: Bodies were hand-built with the edges of each panel lead-loaded. The chromework was honed from brass and individually made to fit each car. At a time of austerity and rationing, this roadster was the last word in opulence and sophistication.

The 300 S was offered in three body styles: The Coupé, the Cabriolet A, and the Roadster. Compared to the Cabriolet A, the Roadster—as exemplified by the chassis offered here—featured a lighter, less formal hood that did away with the Cabriolet A’s landau bars. When retracted and covered by its boot, the Roadster’s top stowed close to the body for a sleeker appearance.

Given the hand-built nature of each example, it is hardly surprising that the 300 S came at an exorbitant price: When launched at the Paris Salon in October 1951, the 300 S was reportedly twice the cost of a Cadillac before tax and shipping costs (and cost roughly 4,000 Deutsche Mark more than the eventual 300 SL). Production was, consequently, limited; just 216 Coupés, 203 Cabriolet As, and a scant 141 Roadsters were completed.

Yet as Mercedes-Benz intended, it was not how many were sold, but rather, by whom they were acquired, that mattered: Clients are said to have included King Faruk of Egypt, the Aga Khan, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper—a wide-ranging but undeniably rarified set.

Blending elements of classic design and traditional coachbuilding with post-war engineering and performance, this 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Roadster, finished in ivory over a tan leather interior with a nicely contrasting dark brown hood, effortlessly projects the glamour that made the model irresistible to royalty and Hollywood stars alike. Accompanied by luggage and an owner’s manual, it remains eminently suitable for carefree touring in grand style.

Should you want more information on the condition of this lot and or discuss the possibility of an in-situ inspection, please contact our office at +44 (0) 20 7851 7070 or email Britta Buchmann at