Back to Glory - The 1954 300b Adenauer

Sidney Vallon
Paul Howard
This 300b Adenauer exemplifies the achievement of Mercedes-Benz in once again producing the best luxury limousines in the world

Back to Glory
by Sidney Vallon
Photography by Mark Elias and Paul Howard

My 1954 300b Adenauer
My love for Mercedes-Benz cars started at a very young age. My dad was from Munich, Germany, and as a boy, I remember him collecting cars. We owned a 1933 Duesenberg Speedster, a Mercedes 300SL Roadster, a Harley previously owned by Elvis Presley, a 1965 Corvette, and a few others. When I was 15 years old, I moved to the United States with my mom and I began collecting cars, this time in die-cast 1:18 scale. I only collected the classic Mercedes-Benz cars. I remember thinking, “One day I will own one.”

I bought my first 190SL when I was 27. A true love started soon after – I have had a total of six 190SLs. I then started to look at other models, and my heart was set on the Adenauer. The Adenauer was the car I had to have, but it had to be the perfect car.

In 2009, I found the one. It was owned by Shawn Hoar, the son of Warren T. Hoar, who had founded Vintage Mercedes Cars, which became one of the largest independent dealers of pre-war Mercedes Benz automobile parts in the United States. Shawn’s father had purchased two Mercedes Adenauers, one for himself and one for Shawn.

I flew with my wife to see the car in Farmington, Connecticut. After convincing Shawn that I was the perfect candidate to purchase his 1954 Adenauer, we bought the car and drove home the same day.

The 300b was already gorgeous, but with an older restoration in non-original colors. A few months later, and after many sleepless nights, I told my wife that I had decided to restore the car and keep it for our firstborn son. Of course, I did not tell her what I was about to spend.

We asked a very close friend, Steve Petris, owner of Nickee’s, a well-known body shop in South Florida, to inspect the Adenauer and assist us with restoration. After some research, we were able to determine the original colors. According to the data card from 1954, the original colors were DB608 Yellow and DB320 Blue. We also learned that back in 1954, the original owner had specially requested the two-toned car from Mercedes-Benz, and it may have been the only one ever made by Mercedes-Benz in those colors. We verified the information and ordered the paint to bring the car to its original colors. Thanks to Steve for making this happen.

The complete restoration took about a year. The car was stripped naked, and everything taken apart and labeled. We started with soda blasting the car and removing all the undercoating. It took about six hours to remove the undercoating, and we were astonished to see the beauty underneath. The car had no rust, had never been repaired, and we could see the original welding from the Mercedes factory all around.

All the chrome was sent to Palm Beach Plating, and the wood to Eddie at Florida Auto Trim. The interior was completed by a local upholstery shop, and the mechanical work by Joe Goodman, owner of Abrams Motors, a specialist in Mercedes-Benz classics in South Florida.

Many hours and much stress, with very little sleep, were spent in pursuit of my dream. Eventually work on the restoration was done, and the car was delivered to our door with a giant bow on its hood. With the car completed, we had its three-week-old owner, Eros Raphael, sleep on the hood for a few minutes (see page 112). That picture is now displayed in the showroom of Mercedes-Benz in Cannes, France.

This restoration has been a way of remembering my father, and I hope to pass his passion for Mercedes-Benz cars along to my son.
Evolution of the Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer
The 300, introduced at the Frankfurt Automobile Show in 1951, was proof that Mercedes-Benz intended to produce the most outstanding luxury sedans in the market at the same time that it would put the average worker back on four wheels. The car would take on the nickname “Adenauer” for Chancellor Adenauer of West Germany, one of the model’s first famous passengers.

Produced through March 1962, the Adenauer would go through four versions – the original, then the b, c, and d. Each generation had a more powerful engine, durable, refined and well-suited to the cars they propelled. The 300c offered an optional automatic transmission and in August 1957, the 300d had fuel injection and automatic transmission standard.

All models incorporated improved steering, electrical control of auxiliary rear suspension to compensate for load change, and dynamically balanced wheels. According to one prominent auto historian, “The 300 Adenauer represented the ultimate in luxury and riding comfort in the period.”

1954 W186 300b
ENGINE: M186 6-cylinder 2,996cc, dual-carburetor, gasoline engine
POWER: 136sae hp @ 4.500 rpm
TORQUE: 163 lb.-ft. @ 2,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed manual
WEIGHT: 4,026 lbs.
WHEELBASE: 120 in.
LENGTH: 199.4 in.
PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph 17 sec.