1955 Mercedes-Benz 300B Cabriolet owned by
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
In the decade after World War II, this was Mercedes’ flagship car, known as the “Adenauer” because it was the preferred official transportation of Konrad Adenauer, West German chancellor from 1949 to 1963. According to Rosenberg, only 57 examples of his ‘55 were built for export primarily to the U.S. His blue Mercedes, with its interior slathered in rich, brown leather and the dash inlaid with wood and chrome, is powered by a three-liter straight six engine putting out 125 horsepower. He’s named his ride “Saskia” after the wife of artist Rembrandt van Rijn because, he says, “the car has the fluid, sensuous lines of a Dutch painting.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“It was in a repair shop on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola or Williston Park (New York),” Rosenberg says, “and it had belonged to a pilot who would drive to Idlewild (now JFK) Airport and park it there for a week. Every time he came back, he found the car vandalized so he decided to sell it.” The price was $2,225 and Rosenberg didn’t have the money, so he asked his boss for a loan.
Rosenberg used the Mercedes as his only car for a dozen years. By 1975, he had embarked on a multi-year restoration that he describes as a “nightmare,” including the disappearance of his mechanic, the engine and a number of the car’s other parts. All the items were eventually recovered. “I finally whittled it down to honest, skillful people,” he says, and “it’s really only in the last two years -- and especially in the last six months -- that I finally got it back to where I wanted it.”
TIPS FOR OTHER OWNERS
“Buy one where somebody else has put the money into it,” he advises, “because unless it’s a really rare, rare car, you’ll never see your money again. It’s a question of love.”
A similar car sold for $151,250 at an Arizona auction last year.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I’m a Holocaust survivor and yet I’ve always been very impressed by the pre-war Mercedes,” Rosenberg says. “All of a sudden, there was this car, which, to the uninitiated, looks like a pre-war Mercedes-Benz. The cars were so beautiful and I wanted one.” He recalls a lot of memories with “Saskia,” including his use of the reclining seats on trips to drive-in movie theaters and a soothing fall drive to distract him from the news of President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. “I’ve owned the car now over 50 years and I have come to realize that I really don’t own it. I’m just a caretaker. And I hope the person who gets it after me will enjoy it and take care of it as much as I do.”