As promised, I will share more about this German masterpiece, the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer. As a little background, this car was actually marketed in North American and European markets as the “Type 300d” and was more commonly identified as the “Adenauer” due to German First Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s preference towards the car.
The car is a zeitgeist of the era’s aesthetic. While its roadster brother, the 300 SL Gullwing (where it shares the chassis, engine and suspension), featured aggressively-lined pontoon fenders, this model has relatively softer features to emphasize its sophisticated look rather than performance.
During the 1960s, much of Manila’s roads were populated by American cars namely Chrysler Imperial, Lincoln and Cadillac. Even the “Three P’s” – Pierce-Arrow, Packard and Peerless – could even be seen driving around town. European brands like Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz were hard to come by and one could only find them in abundance in the islands of Negros thanks to the sugar barons.
Luckily, my late father cigarette businessman Wong Chu King bought this from a Belgium-based Dutch car collector 50 years ago making this a European version of the 300d. I am not privy of the other purchase details of the car since I was only barely 10 years old at the time.
What I do know is this fine piece of German engineering is the only one of its kind in the Philippines and has been in my family’s possession ever since. As mentioned in my previous entry, I was naturally tasked of taking care of the car being the car enthusiast in the brood.
Being a purist in terms of car maintenance and modification, this car has been kept in its immaculate stock condition using only genuine Mercedes-Benz parts I could source and is parked inside our warehouse to keep it away from harsh natural elements. Fortunately, there have been only two minor restorations in its lifespan as far as the exterior body (paint and re-chroming) and engine (tune-up) are concerned.
This car has never been involved in any collision so its inner structure is pristine as well. As they say in the automotive world, the body is unat na unat. I forgot to mention all exterior lights are still fully functional, too.
The chrome exterior trimmings were last restored in 2006. After 12 years, they have still maintained their shine. The rims are also original factory spec and the middle was repainted to match the body.
Now down to the interior!
The suede interior lining is still original, although aged, state. The mechanical functions of the windows and seats still work. All of the gauges still work as well. Notice the speedometer is also a bit hazy. But it’s still functional and considering the availability of a spare one lying around somewhere… It doesn’t bother me much to keep it as is.
From the passenger side, we can appreciate more of the wooden dashboard. Cars from the era featured more wooden elements than the cars we know off today. Wooden interior panels adorn most of the car’s structure from the pillars, ceiling, door sidings, etc.
I’ve also kept the stock tube-type radio (which is still working!). One thing about this Benz is I skipped adding an air conditioner too make it era-accurate although the option was an additional purchase at the time, of course, it would be near impossible to find an original A/C unit nowadays.
The rear seats are still in excellent condition as well. If you’ll notice, I have seat covers fabricated to look like the factory installed ones thus the lighter tinge of gray. The original seating it still under there intact and the seat covers serve as protection.One fun fact, this is actually the official Wongchuking bridal car and has been an ongoing family tradition since I and my five other siblings got married. My nephews and nieces who are now hitched were able to use this as well. That’s one of the other reasons that make this car a priceless heirloom. It will remain to be the bridal car for the succeeding generations of Wongchukings in the years to come.
Modesty aside, this Mercedes-Benz has been featured in numerous car shows and won various awards as well as a citation from the Mercedes-Benz Club UK in an affair held in Hong Kong years back. It was also featured by CATS Motors in a “Mercedes-Benz & Me” Photo Contest in 2005.
It’s quite rare for an automobile to be a treasured family heirloom but it’s definitely the story for the me. Where most fathers could pass over jewelry or a timepiece, I’m quite happy that my father left me this car which is where I most likely got my passion for cars.