The destination for history

Road testing the Mercedes 300B and the 250


On 22 November 1900 the first Mercedes motor car was taken for a road test. The car was specially commissioned from Daimler for a man called Emil Jellinek who was so impressed he bought 36 of them. In return for this order, the company agreed to name the car after Jellinek’s daughter, Mercedes.

Early in his long career with Autocar magazine motoring journalist Stuart Bladon chose to road test a number of second-hand cars; the Mercedes-Benz  300B, manufactured in 1955, was one of them.

With its imposing radiator grille and huge front wings swept back into the doors, it really looked quite magnificent, and it was in very good condition, having covered only just over 27,000 miles from new. It had a four-speed gearbox converted to floor-mounted change, and its power unit was a 3-litre 6-cylinder engine, which gave forceful acceleration to reach 80mph from rest in 30.1 seconds. Even modest diesel cars would shame that today, but it was impressive in 1958, and I wrote in the test that it would cruise at 80 and reach the occasional 100mph without need for miles of straight, though where I registered that driving in the evening traffic on a Friday in September on the A5 I don’t quite remember.

Ten years later, Stuart Bladon was to road test another Mercedes, this time a new model, the 250.

For its time, this Mercedes-Benz was a very elegant and functional car, called the 250 with Daimler-Benz four-speed automatic transmission. It had a 2½-litre 6-cylinder engine giving 130bhp. Considering that they had the best road system in Europe, it was surprising that Mercedes-Benz engineers turned out cars with very low gearing, making them very fussy at speed. The 250 ran at 4,500rpm when doing 80mph – you could hardly call it cruising – and the resultant fuel economy was very poor. It gave only 17.3mpg, but I have to admit to driving it very hard indeed.

Sign up for our newsletter

show more books