Tuesday, October 11, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - Mercedes-Benz 300d Automatic

Of all my street sightings, this is probably the one that I most regret not shooting more in-depth. The reason I didn't, is because it was before I even thought about starting a blog about cars I found on the streets. In fact, there were two reasons why I shot this car at all. One of my hobbies was posting on a car website called Rice or Not?, submitting just about every interesting vehicle I found. The other reason for shooting it was that a good friend of mine was making drivable virtual cars for the online community Second Life, and I was trying to find interesting cars that could be used for mapping textures on their 3D counterparts, using front, side, rear and close-up wheel photos.
It was only later that I decided to join Jalopnik.com, to submit some of my more interesting local street sightings to weekend editor Murilee Martin, whose "Down on the Street" features were one of the more popular elements of the site. My first "Down on the Street: Bonus Edition" submission was the Hillman Minx that I featured very early in this blog's run. When I continued to submit cars, but they weren't posted, I became discouraged and decided to strike out on my own with a car blog.

But enough with the lamentations. This is a Mercedes-Benz 300d (W189) "Adenauer" limousine, built between 1957 and 1962. The limousine models gained their nickname after their extensive use by German Chancellor Conrad Adenauer. In its day, the 300d was just about the plushest, most expensive European luxury car this side of a Rolls-Royce - meaning that it came with an automatic transmission and fuel-injected six-cylinder power, and if you checked the option box, you could get power brakes, power steering and air-conditioning, too. One of the most novel features of the 300d was its greenhouse design. Despite being a large, six-windowed sedan, all of the side glass aft of the front vent windows could be lowered or removed for a breezy hardtop look. I can't precisely date the manufacture of this car, since the body design didn't really change over the production run, and the circa-1963 black license plates would have been put on this car sometime after production ceased. Apparently the steering wheel design changed later in the production run, but that detail isn't visible in any of my pictures. Anyone who can provide a closer date estimate would be appreciated.
The license plate frames on the front and rear of this fine car read "Martin Estate: A classic is forever". Martin Estate is a Napa Valley winery founded in 1996 and based on a winery founded in 1887. I guess the Martins are doing pretty well in the wine business to be driving a Mercedes like this - and it's much cooler than a modern S-Class. As they say, a classic is forever.

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