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An authentic example which will be a welcome addition to your stable

Mercedes 300 1958

President Somoza

$0

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Significant world event car. A historical treasure that belongs in your world-class Mercedes collection. Some of the special features include: high torque engine, telephone, parade light, siren, flag holder hood ornament and “Polar-matic” air-conditioning. All of the documentation seems to show that this was owned Nicaragua’s first family. Documentation on the photo page (please satisfy yourself as to its authenticity).

A Man and His Car

On Wednesday, September 17, 1980 Anastasio Somoza Debayle climbed into his white 1979 Mercedes Benz limousine. Seven blocks later, a bazooka rocket hit the limo broadside tearing away the roof.

Somoza and his long-time faithful driver, Senor Julio Cesar Gallardo, were killed.

The Somoza family’s 43-year dynasty had finally come to an end. From 1936 to 1979, the Somozas had ruled Nicaragua and accumulated personal assets totaling $400 million.

This Mercedes Benz was part of this fortune. “The most elegant car in the world,” the Mercedes Benz 300d had a distinctive regal appearance that was unmatched by any car on the road. It was also touted as being large and powerful. These adjectives made the Mercedes an icon for Somoza’s ego image, “Ownership was the mark of a man who had reached the top.”

The Making of Somoza’s 300

From an official Daimler-Benz letter in our possession it appears that Luis Somoza officially ordered this Mercedes on September 14, 1957. Mr. Somoza communicated to Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft that this limousine was to have special equipment. Chassis number 7500143 was built with a high torque fuel-injected engine, double acting telescopic coil springs, refrigeration, radio-telephone, military siren and blue lamp. Mr. Somoza stated that since the automobile was of pillarless design, his intended use did not require armor-plating. On March 2, 1958, the auto was shipped to Nicaragua on the S.S. Hein Hoyer owned by Hanseatic Vaase Line.

Somoza’s Christmas Present

Twenty years later, on December 14, 1977, A. Somoza (Anastasio) wrote an official letter from Casa Presidencial, Hacienda El Retiro to Senor Julio Cesar Gallardo expressing the family’s appreciation for his service and telling him he would be given his brother Luis’ car that had been in the family for so long. Somoza said the car would be legally transferred to Gallardo on December 23. He wished Gallardo “feliz navidad” (Merry Christmas) and referred to their relationship with the term, “amigos”.

On December 23, 1977, A. Somoza and Gallardo signed a Bill of Sale for un cordoba C$1.00. The document number on the carta de vente (bill of sale) was 0,003,428. The document stated that the vehicle was a blue 1958 Mercedes Benz limousine 300d with chassis number 7500143.

The paper was officially stamped and signed by Dr. Ulises Fonesca Talavera, a Notario Publico who still lives in Nicaragua to this day. In the Carta de Vente, Gallardo agreed to restore the car in minute detail as assessed by Senor Carlos Jose Mendoza of the Mercedes-Benz agency in Managua. Gallardo agreed that the car was to be considered as a museum piece and a national treasure. Gallardo promised that it would never leave its homeland of Nicaragua.

Gallardo kept his word. He had the car restored. On August 4 1978, the Club de Vehiculos Clasicos de Nicaragua awarded Julio Cesar Gallardo first place for Concurso de Elegancia.

When Gallardo signed the Carta de Vente, he had every intention of honoring the agreement to keep the car in the country of Nicaragua as a national treasure.

The Sandinista Period

When the Sandinistas came to power in 1979 they released Decree #3 (Decreto No. 3, Aprobado el 20 de julio de 1979) which was for the confiscation of all Somoza family property. This decree extended to all Somoza family, soldiers, officers and presumably associates who left the country. We have to assume that Anastasio’s long time chauffeur. According to documents with the car, the same Carlos Jose Mendoza of the Mercedes agency in Managua delivered the car to the port for export to California and its new owner. Since previously the Somozas owned this Mercedes agency we have to assume it was now under government control.

Somoza rests in peace in Miami, Florida.

TIME-LINE

1-1-1937 Anastasio Somoza Garcia is elected President of Nicaragua
9-1956 A. S. Garcia is assassinated and his son Luis Somoza Debayle succeeds him and is elected president several months later.
9-14-1957 Daimler-Benz receives the order for a model 300c (this car) from their agent in Managua – A. Somoza h. & Cia (See official Daimler-Benz letter)
1963 Rene Schick Gutierrez is elected president.
2-3-1966 Anastasio Somoza Garcia’s second son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, is elected president.
1967 Luis Somoza Debayle dies of a heart attack
5-1972 The Nicaraguan Congress dissolves, Somoza Resigns
12-1972 An earthquake levels Managua and Anastasio Somoza takes control of the government again
1974 Under a new constitution, Somoza is again elected president.
12-14-1977 Anastasio Somoza writes letter informing his long time chauffeur Gallardo that he intends to give him his brother’s car
12-23-1977 Bill of Sale signed by Anastasio Somoza and notarized by Dr. Ulises Fonseca Talavera transferring the Mercedes to Julio Cesar Gallardo for Cordoba C$1.00
8-4-1978 Gallardo wins Primer Lugar or First Place with the car at the Concurso de Elegancia of Santo Domingo de Guzman
8-1978 Sandinistas storm the National Palace, taking government officials hostage and demanding the release of political prisoners.
7-17-1979 Somoza resigns and flees the country with one hundred associates and family.
7-20-1979 New government nationalizes the country’s major assets including those of the Somoza family with official Decree No. 3 (see the pdf file of this decree)
8-21-1980 The Mercedes is exported to the U.S. (delivered to the port by Carlos Jose Mendoza of the M-B agency in Managua) View the letter. View the envelope.
9-17-1980 Anastasio Somoza Debayle and his chauffeur Julio Gallardo are killed in a bazooka attack in Paraguay
11-1980 Ronald Reagan is elected President of the U.S.
1982 Covert aid to the contra rebels is approved by U.S. congressional intelligence committees

Most of the non-automotive history above provided courtesy of Harvard Law School

  • Years of Manufacture: 1951 - 1957
  • Number Built: 44,451
  • Price at Introduction:
    • 300 4 Door Sedan: DM 19,900
    • 300 4 Door Convertible: DM 23,700
    • 300b 4 Door Sedan: DM 22,000
    • 300b 4 Door Convertible: DM 24,700
    • 300c 4 Door Sedan Man: DM 22,000
    • 300c 4 Door Sedan Auto: DM 23,500
    • 300c 4 Door Convertible Man: DM 24,700
    • 300c 4 Door Convertible Auto: DM 26,200
    • 300c 4 Door LWB Limousine: Additional DM 3,000
    • 300d 4 Door Sedan/Hardtop Man: DM 27,000
    • 300d 4 Door Sedan/Hardtop Auto: DM 28,500
  • Date of Introduction:
  • Chassis/Body:
    • X Shaped Oval Tube Chassis
  • Exterior Dimensions 300:
    • Total Length: 194.9 inches (4950mm)
    • Total Width: 72.4 inches (1838mm)
    • Height at Kerb Weight: 63.0 inches (1600mm)
    • Wheelbase: 120.0 inches (3050mm)
    • Front Track: 58.2 inches (1480mm)
    • Rear Track: 60.0 inches (1525mm)
  • Exterior Dimensions 300b:
    • Total Length: 199.4 inches (5065mm)
    • Total Width: 72.4 inches (1838mm)
    • Height at Kerb Weight: 64.6 inches (1640mm)
    • Wheelbase: 120.0 inches (3050mm)
    • Front Track: 58.2 inches (1480mm)
    • Rear Track: 60.0 inches (1525mm)
  • Exterior Dimensions 300c:
    • Total Length: 199.4 inches (5065mm)
    • Total Width: 72.4 inches (1838mm)
    • Height at Kerb Weight: 63.0 inches (1600mm)
    • Wheelbase: 120.0 inches (3050mm)
    • Front Track: 58.2 inches (1480mm)
    • Rear Track: 60.0 inches (1525mm)
  • Exterior Dimensions 300d:
    • Total Length: 204.3 inches (5190mm)
    • Total Width: 73.2 inches (1860mm)
    • Height at Kerb Weight: 63.8 inches (1620mm)
    • Wheelbase: 124.0 inches (3150mm)
    • Front Track: 58.2 inches (1480mm)
    • Rear Track: 60.0 inches (1525mm)
  • Kerb Weight:
    • 300: 3916lb (1780kg)
    • 300b: 4026lb (1830kg)
    • 300c Sedan: 4092lb (1860kg)
    • 300c Convertible: 4202lb (1910kg)
    • 300d Sedan: 4290lb (1950kg)
    • 300d Convertible: 4400lb (2000kg)
  • Fuel Tank:
    • 19.0 gallons (72.0 litres)
  • Turning Circle:
    • 41-43.00ft (12.6-13.1 metres)
  • Instruments:
    • Speedometer
    • Petrol gauge
    • Temp warning lamp
    • Oil warning lamp
  • Transmission (Manual, 4 Speed) 300:
    • 1st: 2.95:1 (later 3.30:1)
    • 2nd: 2.13:1
    • 3rd: 1.46:1
    • 4th: 1.00:1
  • Transmission (Manual, 4 Speed) 300b and 300c:
    • 1st: 3.44:1
    • 2nd: 2.30:1
    • 3rd: 1.53:1
    • 4th: 1.00:1
  • Transmission (Automatic, 3 Speed) 300d:
    • 1st: 2.303:1
    • 2nd: 1.435:1
    • 3rd: 1.000:1
  • Clutch:
    • Single cushion disc, dry plate clutch
  • Rear Axle Ratio:
    • 300: 4.44:1
    • 300b/300c/300d: 4.67:1
  • Engine Speed at 100 km/h:
    • 3300 rpm
  • 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h):
    • 300: 18.0 seconds (approx)
    • 300b/300c/300d Sedan: 17.0 seconds (approx)
    • 300c/300d convertible: 18.0 seconds (approx)
  • Maximum Speed:
    • 300: 160 km/h (99.5 mph)
    • 300b: 163 km/h (101.0 mph)
    • 300c Sedan: 160 km/h (99.5 mph)
    • 300c Convertible: 155 km/h (96.3 mph)
    • 300d Sedan: 170 km/h (105.6 mph)
    • 300d Convertible: 165 km/h (102.5 mph)
  • Engine 6 Cylinder M 186 300:
    • Capacity: 2996cc 182.7ci
    • Type: Conventional, watercooled four stroke, reciprocating piston type with 6 cylinders
    • Configuration: Front mounted, longitudinal, inline
    • Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv with one valve per cylinder
    • Fuel System: 2 Dual downdraft Solex 40 PBJC carburettors
    • Bore and Stroke: 3.35 x 3.46 inches (85 x 88mm)
    • Power: 115 hp @ 4600 rpm
    • Torque: 20.0 mkg @ 2500rpm (114.0 ft/lb)
    • Compression Ratio: 6.4:1
  • Engine 6 Cylinder M 186 300b and 300c:
    • Capacity: 2996cc 182.7ci
    • Type: Conventional, watercooled four stroke, reciprocating piston type with 6 cylinders
    • Configuration: Front mounted, longitudinal, inline
    • Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv with one valve per cylinder
    • Fuel System: 2 Dual downdraft Solex 32 PAJAT carburettors
    • Bore and Stroke: 3.35 x 3.46 inches (85 x 88mm)
    • Power: 125 hp @ 4500 rpm
    • Torque: 22.5 mkg @ 2600rpm (163.0 ft/lb)
    • Compression Ratio: 7.4:1 (later 7.5:1)
  • Engine 6 Cylinder M 186 300d:
    • Capacity: 2996cc 182.7ci
    • Type: Conventional, watercooled four stroke, reciprocating piston type with 6 cylinders
    • Configuration: Front mounted, longitudinal, inline
    • Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv with one valve per cylinder
    • Fuel System: Bosch Injection Pump
    • Bore and Stroke: 3.35 x 3.46 inches (85 x 88mm)
    • Power: 160 hp @ 5300 rpm
    • Torque: 24.2 mkg @ 4200rpm (175.0 ft/lb)
    • Compression Ratio: 8.55:1
  • Ignition and Electrical:
    • 12 volt
    • Coil and alternator
  • Exhaust:
    • Single tail-pipe
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Independent type with coil springs
    • Rear: Swing axle with coil springs
  • Steering:
    • 300: Worm and ball, ratio 17.9:1 (3.3 turns)
    • 300b and 300c: Recirculating ball, ratio 21.4:1 (3.75 turns)
    • 300d: As per 300c, however servo assist available as an option from September 1958
  • Brakes:
    • 300: Drum, 1270 cm sq. 197.0 sq in.
    • 300b/300c/300d: Drum, 1470 cm sq. 228.0 sq in.
  • Wheels:
    • 15" Pressed steel disc wheels
  • Tyres:
    • 300 and 300b: 7.10 x 15 extra
    • 300c and 300d: 7.60 x 15 extra
300 Production Schedule
Vehicle
Year
Cars Manufactured
300 and 300b (186 II-III) Sedan
1951
47
1952
2,659
1953
1,776
1954
1,185
1955
547
Total:
6,214
300 and 300b (186 II-III) Convertible
1951
2
1952
262
1953
181
1954
87
1955
59
Total:
591
300c (186 IV) Sedan
1955
330
1956
885
1957
217
Total:
1,432
300c (186 IV) Convertible
1955
3
1956
48
Total:
51

First introduced to the public at the 1951 Frankfurt Motor Show, the 300 is important in the post war Mercedes line-up as it represents the return by Mercedes to manufacturing outstanding high quality and luxurious automobiles.

With a maximum cruising speed in excess of 160 km/h (100mph) the car was powered by a 6 cylinder 3 litre overhead cam engine with a seven bearing crankshaft.

While many aspects of the car were carried over from the 170 series, the 300 had such improvements as a new steering mechanism, hypoid bevel final drive and dynamically balanced wheels.

The short stroke engine used a special valve arrangement and combustion chamber design combined with a thermostatically controlled water circulation and oil temperature, making the M186 engine at the time arguably the most robust and quiet ever manufactured.

The chassis incorporated all of the features of the 170S plus a number of additional refinements, such as a new steering mechanism design, electrical control of the rear suspension to allow the driver to adjust for different carrying loads. All up, the 300 was without peer.

The 300 sedan was built from November 1951 until March 1954, however it was also available in cabriolet form (pre-series production in April 1951 with regular production from March 1952).

The Type 300b was built from March 1954 until August 1955, and boasted a more powerful engine, power now up at 125 hp, and better brakes. The 300c followed, and although it retained the standard transmission, it was fitted with two compound carburettors, higher compression and a better axle ratio, its production run spanning September 1955 through July 1957. The Cabriolet D was available in July 1956, it being built to special order on a 3150mm wheelbase, and having a rather large for the time 5165mm body length.

The final iteration was the 300d, which had a slightly modernised body and fuel injected engine; it remained in production until March 1962. Any 300 model today is highly collectible, however as with all models (regardless of manufacturer) the convertible models will demand the highest prices. There is also much beauty in the "bright-work" incorporated into the 300 sedans manufactured after 1957.

Year: 1958
Make: Mercedes
Model: 300
Body Style: Sedan
Price: $0
Exterior Color: Navy
Interior Color: Gray
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