Pictures by Steve Natale & Horatio Fitz-Simon
Model 997 300SE COUPE 1965 Salon Car
Built from 1961-1967 the 300SE models, produced over a period of seven years, were the top of the line cars from the Unterturkheim Automaker, to set them apart they were given their own type number W112, each car was hand built and it showed. Priced at nearly twice the cost of its closest W111 sibling, the W112’s specification was without equal, the power plant was the aluminum fuel-injected M189 motor taken from the legendary Gullwing sports car, an all new Air Suspension system – the first time on a Mercedes Benz offered stability and a sporting ride whilst braking was handled by a dual circuit servo system powering disc brakes to all four corners, even the power steering was an all new design! Accordingly the W112 was the car reserved for the elite of ts day; the darling of celebrities, directors and the nobility. With some 3,100 models built in both Coupe and Cabriolet form (2400 Coupes) it’s also one of the rarest cars from the Benz stable.
Completed in September 1965, this 300SE Coupe was specially built as the ‘exhibition car’ for the US motor show circuit of 1966. The data card carries the Mercedes Benz code “997” denoting “Stand Wagen” (In English: Exhibition Car)and the Mercedes Benz internal order shown below dated August 1965 details the cars destination as Abt. Exhibitions, DBNA Detroit/ USA
Copy of Mercedes Benz Internal order dated August 1965
Whilst the 300SE models were hand-built, the exhibition cars received extensive, meticulous attention to detail; after all, these were the flagship cars for the company. The engine compartment of the show cars were unique, in that they were highly detailed with many chromed and polished parts. The valve cover, normally left in its clear aluminum, was polished of all details and finished in semi-gloss black to highlight the polished inlet manifold and chromed linkages and fuel lines
It is rumored that this car enjoyed celebrity status and may have been owned by none other than the late, great John Wayne. Whilst we have been unable to substantiate this, the rumor has surrounded the car for years. Researching the history, a previous owner describes our 300 as having being bought from a John Wayne sale in the early 1980’s. Seemingly substantiating this are many stickers and VIP passes to membership of the prestigious Balboa Bay Club of Newport Beach, California…but his ownership can only be seen as a rumor…..The Balboa Bay club, for many years, was the chosen hang out of such stars as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, James Cagney – and of course the Duke himself, not only was he a member, but also an acting governor in his time; a true VIP.
Our car comes with all of its factory documentation: the steel data card, or “Credents plate”, is still attached to its card folder-unused, the toolkit and even the hangtags for the factory optioned Koolmeister AC system are present and beautifully preserved. Factory options include a passenger head rest and tinted glass, which make for a lovely specification. A look under the hood sees Mercedes typical “show car” attention to detail: the motor having a semi-gloss-black painted valve cover, polished inlet manifold, and chromed fuel lines, bolts and fittings throughout.
This unique car has led a very pampered life, remaining largely original. Paired with all of its factory supplied documentation: from manuals, paper instructions, maps and hang tags. What is very special and rare is that, as the illustrious show car, the first owner’s name is cryptically missing from any of the MB supplied paperwork. It is said that Mercedes Benz gave preference to celebrity buyers with these special cars, so whether or not this ’66 Detroit Motor Show car was the mount of America’s favourite Western hero remains to be seen…
Engine Compartment Post Restoration
Interior Post Restoration including new leather, headliner and carpets
Exterior Post Restoration
Unused Tool Kit