Lot 159

Motor City 2015

1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 Cabriolet D


$275,000 - $375,000 USD | Not Sold

United States Flag | Plymouth, Michigan



Chassis No.
Body No.
  • Perhaps the finest restored example in existence
  • Owned by two families since new; extensive documentation
  • Exquisite, concours award-winning restoration with NOS parts
  • Recent detailing for authenticity by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA

115 bhp, 2,996 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with two Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent coil-spring suspension with front wishbones and rear swing axles, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

The 300 series, designed by Hermann Ahrens, marked a very important line of vehicles for Mercedes-Benz, as they were the first all-new models produced by the company after the end of World War II. The four-door version of this imposing, powerful car was quickly nicknamed “Adenauer” because six custom examples of the 300 saw use by the chancellor of Germany at the time, Konrad Adenauer. Expensive as they were expansive, they were often seen ferrying politicians and celebrities and were acquired by captains of industry and other wealthy individuals. As such, the 300 Adenauer symbolized the success of their owners.

Most rare of the early 300s are the four-door convertible Cabriolet D models, which featured construction on par with the legendary pre-war 500 K and 540 Ks, including a beautifully engineered, landau bar-assisted cabriolet top; a sumptuous, leather-swathed interior that could easily carry six persons; and trim of chrome-plated solid brass and beautiful hardwoods. Between late 1951 and the summer of 1955, only 591 Cabriolet Ds were hand-built to order at Stuttgart.

The car offered here is documented by a copy of its original build sheet as having been produced on December 31, 1952, finished in Green (DB 221) with a matching interior. Original options included an incredibly rare Becker Nürburg III six-band radio, with shortwave preset to major cities worldwide—a feature so exceptional that the current owner recalls that the Classic Center was unaware they had installed one in a car until he showed them his.

The Cabriolet D was shipped stateside and sold new in 1953 to Franklin Eli, of Buffalo, New York. Mr. Eli used the car on special occasions until 1969, when it was put into storage in Ithaca, New York, having been driven only 66,000 miles. Somehow, a mouse made its home in one of the cylinders, resulting in engine damage. The local Mercedes-Benz dealer supplied a new engine for the car, which it carries today.

The Cabriolet D was willed to its original owner’s nephew, James “Jim” Eli, in 1999, and it was brought to the respected shop of Warren Riter and Sons in Penfield, New York, to be restored back to the exacting standards of fit and finish with which it was delivered when new. Following the passing of Jim Eli, his widow elected to sell the car to its present owner, a passionate longtime Mercedes-Benz enthusiast who knew of this amazing car in his area. As a former director of the East Coast Gull Wing Group and past president of the US chapter of the International 190 SL Club, he continued the restoration at Riter and Sons to the same high standard through to completion. While the car was beautifully finished, the owner continued to seek an ever-higher level of perfection and brought it to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA in Irvine, California, which performed further detailing and sorting for accuracy, including an inspection of the engine for authenticity and running quality with a satisfying compression test. The owner believes that, between both phases, over $700,000 was spent to return the Adenauer to its former glory. Numerous letters and correspondence between the owner and the Classic Center USA are included in the file, providing valuable information. Also included is a set of original keys.

The 300 has been shown only a few times since its completion, most prominently here at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in 2012, where it was awarded Best in Class, and at the Amelia Island Concours in 2013, where it was also an award winner. It has been consistently well maintained, and the owner proudly offers it with not only the aforementioned correspondence and build information but also his entire restoration file, including abundant photographs of the work underway and other detailed records from various specialists and suppliers. Most prominently, it also features its rare, original factory spares box, including many of the spare components delivered from Stuttgart, which will be available for inspection for any potential buyers.

This is most certainly among the finest of the 300 Cabriolet Ds in existence, and it demands a place of prominence in any Mercedes-Benz collector’s stable.