Motor City

25 July 2015

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Lot 159

1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 Cabriolet D

  • Chassis no. 186.014.02905/52
  • Body no. 186.160.0241/52

$275,000 - $375,000


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.

  • 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


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.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more