When Pininfarina indicated to Mercedes in late 1954 their desire to purchase a 300B to be rebodied as a pillerless coupe, the typically fastidious Germans wary of a design detrimental to the firm’s standards requested renderings of the proposed design. Once satisfied with the design, Mercedes shipped chassis #186.010 450005, a 1954 300B, to F.A. Saporiti, the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Milan. The car was shipped on January 17th, 1955.
As the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This Italian Mercedes-Benz-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300b Coupe has always been the object of mixed opinions, it’s styling far more contemporary than any other luxury car that Mercedes-Benz offered in 1955.
The 300s were DBAG’s luxury flagships in the Eisenhower years, with flowing fenders and dignified Sindelfingen coachwork influenced by pre-war tradition. This 300b, built in 1955, forecast the look that Mercedes-Benz adopted when the 220S Coupe was introduced for 1957.
This 300 was “dressed-up” in four stages, as documented by photographs before it was sold in 1956.
- Stage one, as the car was originally shown at the period European Auto Salons, used virtually no chrome trim except in the mandatory places like the radiator shell, bumpers, wheel and window trim. Even the headlamp bezels were painted.
- In stage two the bezels were all chrome, the only noted change.
- Stage three saw the addition of well-placed lower side molding, flat chrome bands around the front of the fenders, and extended chrome fairings on the auxiliary lamps.
- In its fourth stage, the car was displayed in Europe, and in this final version it appears today, with wheel-well moldings and another belt molding to facilitate two-toning the hood and deck. This molding also bridges the gap in height between the bottom edge of the hood and the bottom of the pre-existing belt molding, occurring via a “hop-up” at the trailing corner of the hood.
Of the three Mercedes based projects completed by Pininfarina in the ’50s, this elegant – and rather massive – 300 was the most harmonious. Walking around the car keen observers will see a tail treatment distinctly Facel Vega in execution and the rear 3/4 view revealing a Bentley-esque profile.
Records indicate that it was not until Sindelfingen received and approved Pinin Farina’s drawings that an automobile was delivered. Whether a complete car or just a running chassis was sent to Pinin Farina is unclear. During an extensive restoration of this car, workers discovered a body identification tag with an assigned number under the left front kick panel (upholstery) on a structure manufactured by Sindelfingen. The tag number, 186.010 450005, indicated a 1954 300b sedan. DBAG records show that the car was sold to F.A. Saporiti, the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Milan, on January 17th, 1955, and shipped by rail to Turin. Saporiti then delivered it to Pinin Farina for the new body. The November 1955 issue of Road & Track carries a photograph of this car on page 34 under the heading “New…From Italy.” The car was also pictured in international publications including Industria Automobilistica Italiana, 1957, and Automobil Revue, published in June 1955.