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W112/3 300SE Cabriolet RH
The previous generation of Mercedes models consisted of the entry-level 4-cylinder 180/190 series, the mid-range 220 series of sedan, coupe, and convertible, a sports 190SL coupe and a roadster, all built on a Ponton unibody chassis. The top range 300 series of sedan, coupe, convertible, and roadster, were hand-built on the archaic X-frame chassis based on pre-war models. In addition, there was the 300SL coupe/roadster, built on a unique tubular platform.
In the late 1950s, Daimler began to initiate a policy of standardization to take advantage of economies of scale, planning on unifying its entire model range on one platform in its next generation of cars. Assembly of all 2-door 300S W187s ended in 1957, and in 1958, the fuel-injected W128 220SE Ponton was introduced. The new generation of fintail models was introduced in 1959. First came the 220/220S/200SE W111 sedans, these were joined in 1961 by the 220SE W111 coupe and convertible, as well as the four-cylinder W110 190 and 190D. A replacement for the big W189 Type 300 Adenauer limousine, was still being developed. Rather than developing a new platform, the six-cylinder 3-litre engine from the W189 was drafted to create a luxury W112 model by installing in a W111 with improved features and detailing. Although the two looked similar sales of the W112 were positive.
Mercedes-Benz used such marketing techniques as displaying the models in different showrooms and issuing separate brochures to distinguish the two. Externally the W112 displayed substantially more chrome and had bigger 14" wheels. Luxury features such as power steering, pneumatic suspension, and automatic transmission were standard (though a manual transmission would return as an option). The car cost almost twice the price of the top range 220SE W111.
In 1963, Mercedes-Benz went on to create the long-wheelbase sedan, commonly referred to as the 300SEL (although the L suffix for "limousine" would not be introduced until the next generation). The 300SE's performance was the top of the Mercedes range, with the M189 six-cylinder engine producing 160 hp (170 after 1964) and giving a top speed of 180 km/h (190 after 1964, both figures 175 and 185 for automatic transmission respectively).
The W112 turned out to be a very short-lived venture. In 1963 Mercedes-Benz premièred the true replacement for the Adenauer, in the new W100 600 limousine. With the top niche filled, demand for the W112 plummeted and production volume fell drastically: in 1962 a total of 2,769 were built, but the next year this fell to 1,382, and in 1965 with the coming of the W108/109 series, the sedan W112 was dropped, with a total of 6,748 300SEs in standard and long wheelbase built. In 1962, for every W112 sedan 24 W111s rolled off the production line, while by 1964, this ratio was almost 1:40.
The Coupe and cabriolet 2-door W112s fared better. Arriving in 1962, only a year later after the première of the 2-door W111s. The latter was offered as a single 220SE model and thus the 300SE served as the only stable mate. Hence, a 5:1 production ratio was kept. The two-door W111/W112 was production continued after 1965 with the coming of the new generation W108/W109 sedans. However, in 1967, Mercedes-Benz chose to finish producing the now-ancient M189 engine. The replacement was the 280SE.
Mercedes-Benz ended the previous nomenclature of 190/220/300, and began a common practice of exchanging engines between models. The LWB 300SE established the long wheelbase models that became standard in future S-Class generations. The 300SE sedan was entered in international and European Touring Car Challenge and won several rallies.
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