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Differences between short-wheel-base (SWB) and long-wheel-base (LWB) sedans


The primary difference is the addition of 100 mm in the rear seat leg room. This, of course, made the car more expensive and therefore the "high end" finback. In an effort to make this new high end car even more exclusive, the factory made a number of other changes as well.

Outwardly, the outlet air vent on the C-pillar and the chrome trim around the door windows changed. The previous 300SE sedans (the SWB cars produced before the introduction of the LWB version) had narrower trim pieces around the perimeter of the window frame in the doors, adjacent to the glass. The outer edge of the window frame was finished in paint. With the introduction of the LWB sedan in early 1963, both the SWB and LWB cars had the entire window frame finished in chrome trim.

As such, a process of elimination is required to distinguish a short car from a long car. A car that has the full window frame trim may be either a short or a long car, but a car with the narrower trim is a short car.

The C-pillar trim is more definitive. All short cars had a wide chrome trim piece around the top, front, and bottom of the air vent in the C-pillar. On all but the earliest of the short cars, this trim piece also had a middle horizontal leg across the air vent with "300SE" cast into it.

The long cars had a completely different treatment. There is a separate steel panel, painted in the body color, that completely covers the air vent. The rear edge of this panel extends back to the rear windshield, and the rear edge of the panel is trimmed in a narrow chrome piece.

The differences between the two cars is more extensive on the inside of the car. Here, the most noticeable difference is the door panels. The front door panels of the short cars had "pull open" storage pockets. All four doors had wood trim not only at the top of the door, but also had a wood trim piece extending the length of the door above the pockets. The long cars had rigid open pockets in the front doors, and none of the doors had the lower wood trim piece. Additionally, the short cars had arm rests that also served as a  handle to pull the door closed. The long cars had an arm rest more like that of an arm chair. It was fully upholstered and did not have a "hand hole" in it.

The trim along the outer-lower edge of the front seats is also different. The short-wheel-base sedans had a heavy chrome trim piece that ran the full length of the seat and wrapped around to the front of the seat. The front seats for the long-wheel-base sedans completely eliminated this trim piece but, instead, had a chrome trim piece that fit over the front of floor mounted slider rails that the seat slides back and forth on.

Another fundamental difference is the padding in the seats. All long cars had better cushioning in both the front and rear seats.

When all else fails, check the length of the rear doors. Measured at the bottom of the window, the SWB rear door is approx. 34 and 5/8ths inches (880 mm) long, the LWB rear door is approx. 38 and 5/8ths inches (980 mm) long.

Short wheel base vs. long wheel base interior door panels

Short wheel base vs. long wheel base C-pillar and front seat chrome


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