1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton
A Fine Classic Mercedes-Benz Ponton
I owned this classic Mercedes-Benz 220S for quite a few years. The 220S was known as a luxury car and was the beginning of the Mercedes E-Class of automobiles. While it was expensive back when it was produced, it was substantially less expensive than the grand salon 600 series cars of the day. The 220S was designed to provide all of the luxury that was available in a car that was relatively affordable and which was perfectly capable of being used every day. The engine was a straight six cylinder with dual carburetors. It produced enough power to power the car at 70 mile per hour freeway speeds. The car was durable enough to maintain such high speed for hours at a time. This particular car was driven from Sacramento to the Pacific Northwest along the Interstate 5 with stops for gas and rest only. It made the trip with ease.
You could certainly never win a speed race with this car but the acceleration was acceptible. It also ran on regular gas and got decent gas mileage. Although the odometer showed about 90,000 miles, there was no way to know the total actual miles. It could have been 190,000 or even 290,000. There was also no indication of whether the engine had ever been rebuilt. Maintenance records provided with the car didn't even show if a clutch job had ever been done. Due to the excellent clutch operation, however, it was assumed that this car had new clutch parts installed. The brakes were very good, having been replaced fairly recently before it was sold.
1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S cars were well built and had such features as wooden dash and trims, leather seats and fog lights. In addition to the strong engine, the car was fitted with a durable manual transmission. Although common in the 1950s, the shifter installed then is rarely seen today. It was installed on the steering column. Gears were arranged in the classic "H" pattern. Three speed shifters on the steering column were fairly common in North America, but Mercedes used four speeds. A semi-automatic was available in 1959 but was not installed on this car. Available literature describes the semi-automatic as being problematic, so it was lucky that this car didn't have one. The brakes on the car were all drum style but they were very capable of controlling the stopping ability of the car. The rear suspension had active links, a novel concept for cars this old.
This car had been well cared for in the 45 years prior to my owning it. It looked quite good from a distance and what problems it did have were largely cosmetic. It was an interesting car to drive, one of only 2 that I ever drove that were older than me. Today the Ponton is a rare sight on the roads. If you are interested in this style of Mercedes, and especially if you own one, you should check out the Mercedes Ponton Owner's group on the Internet.
1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Now Painted White
Classic rare color covered over
At some point in its life, this car was painted in a Mercedes gold color. It was later painted in the white shade seen in these photos. The gold paint job seemed to be a fairly good quality effort but the white certainly was not.
From a distance, the white paint seemed fine but upon closer inspection, serious flaws were easily detected. The painter did little to mask the car in preparation for the white paint. There was overspray on the windows in a couple of places. The rubber trim was hit with white paint. The fender welting, a rubber strip between the fender and the body, was completely painted over. There was dirt in the door tracks that was painted over. An oil change label in the door jam was not removed prior to the paint job so it was completely painted over. This label began to come loose which was causing a square of gold paint to show in the door jam.
While most of these painting errors were cosmetic, the painter did cause body damage at the rear of the car due to his work. The white paint was sprayed over the fender welting at the rear of the car. This caused the water channel to be covered. As a result, water was able to run down the channel and become trapped since the paint prevented good draining. Some surface rust in the area became a little more severe. Luckily this didn't progress to a severe level. I never used the car as a regular driver. It was most often used on fair weather days. The problem rust area would rarely get wet.
1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Original Color
A rarely seen color
Present owners of Mercedes cars, even 60 year old models, may ask the company to send a copy of the original build sheet. Upon proof of ownership, Mercedes will examine the corporate records to see whether such a build sheet still exists for the car. I submitted ownership proof of this car to the company. Mercedes was able to locate the build sheet of the car. The sheet showed that the car was originally sold in light green polyester paint. This paint was still present in the engine bay of the car and was in good condition there. A trip to a local automotive paint shop with the car established that a new paint job in the original color was an expensive proposition.
The shop would only accept the car for painting if a total strip paint job was being done. This would entail the removal of all body pieces, lights, windows and chrome. During the removal, it was likely that some of the parts would be damaged. Any rust encountered would have to be repaired. The cost estimate was at least $4000 for the paint job. At the completion of the paint job, which might take 6 months, the car might realistically be worth about $9000. In it's current state, it was worth perhaps $7000. There was obviously a poor return on the investment of funds for the paint job so it was never done.
This car would have looked splendid if it had received a quality job in the original Mercedes-Benz Light Green Polyester paint. A search of the Internet for such old Mercedes painting in this color has not revealed any known examples. There was no codes indicating what color the original leather seat covers would have been. The light tan was not original. This car may have been built with black or red leather covers on the seats. Regardless, the original leather would have been easily twice as thick as the replacement now on the car. Original Mercedes leather is amazingly thick, luxurious and durable. And expensive today!
Mercedes Items on Amazon - Classic memorabilia
The main site for Pontons
Go to MBZ Ponton for much more information about Mercedes-Benz Ponton models.
Other 1959 220s Mercedes Models
In addition to the 220s 4 door sedan, Mercedes sold the convertible and coupe models which were are more rare. Sharing the engine and running gear, these cars are otherwise quite unlike the commonly found sedan. All body parts are different. The coupe and the convertible share a lot of parts between them but not with the 4 door. These models are very rare as well. While the coupe is rarely seen, the convertible is more popular. Mercedes actually treated the coupe and convertible as essentially the same car even though the convertible had many more parts. Unfortunately, those who own either of these rare units will have quite a hard time finding body parts if these are needed for a restoration. Running gear parts are common since the sedan parts are available but those parts such as fenders, doors and bumpers will be hard to get. For that reason, anyone who wants a coupe or convertible should get the best unit they can afford. Restoration of these models is expensive, difficult or both.