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When the 220 models were introduced, Mercedes claimed to have: "a new design with familiar engines". Now they could state the opposite: "a new engine, a three liter engine, with a now familiar design". The 300SE was considerably more expensive than even the 220SE. To distinguish these models from the others, Mercedes used a lot of chrome on the 300SE, perhaps too much for some tastes but heavily chromed cars were very much the fashion in the 1960s.

The car's name of 300SE chose itself, as it had an injected 3-litre engine based on the engine of the famous 300SL Gullwing and Roadster. Mercedes decided to equip the car standard with automatic transmission which did not suit all the 300SE's customers. An optional manual gearbox was therefore put on the option list within 2 years. Another special feature could be found on the car: air suspension. During the development of the Heckflossen, Mercedes had paid special attention to making the car's ride soft enough to appeal to American taste, yet without forgetting the tastes of the European customers who wanted better handling.

From the outside, the basis of the 300SE was the 220S or SE model. So for a detailed description of the 300SE, please read chapter 3) 1959: The 220, 220S and 220SE first. You can read the word "300SE" where it says "220S" or "220SE". Below are things mentioned were the 300SE models differ from the 220S or SE models.

When you buy a car that is roughly the price of a 220SE and 190 put together (!), you want everybody to know that. So Mercedes took no chances that the casual observer would think it was merely a simple 220 ,when in fact he or she was looking at a 300SE. All the 300SE models had chrome trim around the wheelarches plus a chrome horizontal strip from the front to the rear on the whole length of the car.

You can find two types of chrome use around the windows of a 300SE. One that is similar to that of a 220 model, the other which the long wheelbase 300SE had when it was introduced in 1963 (see chapter 6) 1963: The 300SE LWB).
It looks like the normal wheelbase 300SEs before 1963 have the 220/S/SE chrome treatment with the thinner chrome strips and that normal wheelbase 300SEs after 1963 have the same thick chrome strips of the long wheelbase 300SE.

Here you see something which easliy distincted the 300SE models from the cheaper models, that is if there was still anybody left who was in doubt seeing the chrome strips alongside the car. All normal wheelbase 300SEs had an extra chrome 'tongue' on the air-outlet with the word "300SE" written on it.

Strangly enough, the long wheelbase 300SEs did NOT have a chrome air-outlet The crome was left out on purpose (see chapter 6) 1963: The 300SE LWB). Perhaps someone at Mercedes-Benz thought that if you can't add more chrome, you might as well remove some. The absence of that piece of chrome is, in general terms speeking, the only real noticeable difference between the two 300SEs (of course you can see that the 300SE LWB is 10 cm longer but it is hard when you don't have a normal wheelbase 300SE to compare it with because the extra length is hard to notice at first site).

The last thing in which the 300SE differ from the 220S and SE was the badge on the back of the car. This had its own frame as befits a top-of-the-range car (of course chromed !). I have seen cars that also have the word "automatic" beneath the frame. You may think that the solution is simple; cars without the word "automatic" have a manual gearbox, unfortunately this is not true. My own theory here is that cars with the word "automatic" are simply built after 1963; in this year, customers could order a manual gearbox on the 300SE. Before that time, the 300SE was only supplied with an automatic gearbox so there was no need to mention the word "automatic" on those early cars. Confusingly enough, I have also seen cars where the name "300SE" doesn't have a frame.

The same apllies here for the interior as for the exterior of the 300SE models. For a detailed description of the interior of a 300SE, please read chapter 3) 1959: The 220, 220S and 220SE first. You can read the word "300SE" where it says "220S" or "220SE". Below are things mentioned were the interior of a 300SE models differ from that of a 220S or SE models. 

Apart from the more luxurious use of material, the interior of a 300SE was very much the same as that of a 220S or SE. A significant difference is the use of wood on the doors and around the front and rear windscreens (no. 1), although some pictures of 220's show that they also had the lower strip of wood. An armrest between the front passengers was standard.

Passengers in the rear had parcel-nets mounted on the back of the front seats for their use.

Being a top-of-the-range car, the 300SE had some gadjets that were not standard on the 220S or SE. For example the 300SE had a courtsey light delay and a telescopic radio aerial which extended electrically when the radio was switched on.

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