Mercedes-Benz's luxurious 320 series was introduced in 1936 as a replacement for the 290. It was initially available in two wheel-base lengths, but from 1938 onwards just one length was offered, though a wide variety of open and closed body styles remained available, including a state-of-the-art streamlined saloon in the style of the famous 540K Autobahn Kurier. This stylish and imposing 320 Cabriolet D is a fine example of open-top motoring in a grand manner at a reasonable cost. The robust construction and high quality of the Mercedes-Benz 320 were greatly appreciated by the German Wehrmacht, which ordered around a quarter of the total 320 series production for high-ranking officers.
The Mercedes-Benz Type 320 was the replacement for the 290. Also available at this time was the Type 260D, the world's first Diesel-powered production car. Perhaps one of the most desirable cars in the world at this time, was the Mercedes-Benz 540 K with its 5.4-liter supercharged engine. Above that was the Type 770K Grosser or 'Grand' Mercedes. This had a 7.7-liter supercharged straight-eight. At the other end of the spectrum was the lowest-priced Mercedes-Benz, the Type 170. The Type 170 H was fitted with a rear-mounted engine, while the Type 170 V had its power source in the front. Both had four-cylinders.
The Mercedes-Benz Type 320 was introduced in mid-1937 and initially available in two wheelbase lengths. It was a very comfortable car that was lower priced than the firm's higher-end models, yet offered the same general appearance. All of the 320 models were powered by a six-cylinder engine. The original version displaced 3.2-liters. Later, in 1938, it was enlarged to 3.4-liters and would remain the power-plant throughout the existence of the series, coming to an end in 1942. The engine was rated at 78bhp and provided a top speed near 80 mph, when equipped with the optional ZF overdrive transmission.
The Type 320 was given an independent front and rear suspension, with coil springs at all four corners. This gave the car impressive road manners while keeping the passengers comfortable. Hydraulic brakes could also be found at all four corners and provided excellent stopping power.
There were several bodystyles available, such as a Roadster and a Cabriolet D. The Cabriolet d was a true 4-door, 4-window style that had a low and distinctive split-vee windscreen. There were panes which could be tilted for ventilation.
The 320 was quickly recognized for the robustness of its chassis and was ordered in quantity by the German Wehrmacht, typically for use by high-ranking officers. The model was produced into 1942, with most of the later examples certainly destined for military use. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008