After the Second World War, Mercedes-Benz once again dominated the luxury sedan segment. The W186 series Mercedes 300 made its debut in 1951 along with the Mercedes 220 at the first Frankfurt Auto Show. When it was launched, the new Mercedes flagship was the fastest German production car with a top speed of 100 mph.
It was also unique in that this was the first Mercedes flagship to feature a wider wheelbase than regular models, as well as its signature ‘Ponton’ shape, giving it impressive interior room. New technologies introduced with this generation of Mercedes flagship sedans included air conditioning, air suspension and a passenger safety cell with front and rear crumple zones.
The 300 was also the first official state vehicle produced in Germany after the war and therefore represents, like no other model, Germany’s return to the international stage. The German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was given one of the first examples of this model in December 1951 and, from then on, he would be driven around in nothing other than a type 300. Consequently, the car became popularly known as the ‘Adenauer Mercedes’.
Moving on, we arrive at the generation of Mercedes flagship sedans that included the 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Convertible
honored in the movie The Hangover
. This model was part of the W111 and W112 series, which was made famous by its fintail design. Owing to their function as a parking aid, they were also officially known as sight lines.
The top of the range, the 300 SE, was fitted as standard with air suspension and a newly developed automatic transmission from Mercedes-Benz, and its longer version in 1963 started off the tradition of long-wheelbase models at Mercedes.
The long-wheelbase option added close to 4 inches to the length of the car, offering rear passengers significantly more legroom and comfort.
The year 1965 marked the arrival of the 108 and 109 sedans. These were characterized by a timelessly elegant design and large windows, and sadly a lack of fintails. In addition to the models fitted with conventional steel springs, there was also an air-sprung variant of the model series and this was also available from the outset with a long-wheelbase option.
Special highlights included the introduction of the legendary 300 SEL 6.3 in 1968. In addition to exceptional comfort and luxurious interior fittings, this particular model rivaled the performance of a sports car.
One famous version was AMG’s Red Sow
, a 300 SEL 6.3 that was entered in the 1971 Spa 24 Hours, and the European Touring Car Championship.
Head on to read about the first actual S Class, the W116 from 1972.