Preserved Ponton: 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S

042616 Barn Finds - 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S - 1

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Thanks to Barn Finds fan, Stuart F., for sending in this tip. The almost perfectly-preserved Ponton is in Upper Marlboro, Maryland; what a perfectly-posh-sounding location for this car! This 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S is found on eBay with spirited bidding and a current price of $5,778. There are five days left so this one may get up there in price, as it deserves to.

042616 Barn Finds - 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S - 2

Man is this car in nice shape! It has been stored for many years and the last time it was driven was a dozen years ago; at which time it worked perfectly. The seller said that it turns over but they didn’t go all out on getting it started; they suggested giving it a checkup first before starting it. Wise idea. This “steingrau hell” (light stone gray) car, according to the seller, “may be the best, most original Mercedes Ponton sedan in existence.” I think they may be right. They mention that the car has less than 28,000 miles on it, could that be possible for a 57-year old car? That’s amazing, and with the condition that it’s in I don’t doubt it.

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I can almost hear the vault-like quiet inside this car, or, I should say, I can’t hear the vault-like quiet inside this solid car. The seller says that the grüngrau (green gray) leather interior “is in museum quality condition. The leather seats are soft and in excellent condition, showing only minor wear primarily on the drivers seat.” Some leather cleaner and conditioner would be a must here, or that’s what I would personally do; maybe I’ve been doing that wrong all of these years. Overall, this car is amazing. The trunk looks almost like new. The seller does mention that it has one dent by the gas filler door.

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This is the Swiss-watch-like 2.2L., twin-carburetor, six-cylinder that powered the W180 II with around 100hp. The seller mentions that when last driven “the engine, semi-automatic transmission, brakes, lights, and gauges were all in good operating order.” This entire car looks like it would be back to daily-driver status in a very short time with a minimum of work. Would you use this car regularly like I would, or would you keep it hidden away like the previous owner did?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Back in 1973 I owned a medium blue ’58 ” S ” that had only13,000 miles and still smelled like a leather shop, inside.. It had a 4 speed on the column, was precise in shifting, and a great Sedan to drive, with plenty of torque to pass.
    . .
    The ” S” is a fine car, with great Leather and Wood, and this one will exceed all price expectations

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  2. skloon

    Wow the cardboard heat ducts are even intact- my dad bought a 190 new in Paris in 58 and brought it home to Canada- Quebec’s salt dissolved it though- he said it was the most unreliable POS he ever owned- and he had a K-car and a Volare

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  3. Dave Wright

    I have a very good 58 220s that I have yet to put a wrench on. It has original paint and zero rust. It has been sitting so long that the doors had to be lubricated to work freely. It also has the hydrovac transmission. I am dubious about it. They had so much trouble with them that Mercedes had a conversion kit to return them to regular manuals. Sometimes those kind of problems are a matter of educating the mechanics, so we will see. These are several notches above the Taxi 190’s in most ways. I owned a magnificent 1959 220s coupe I imported from Germany. One of the cars I should have kept.

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  4. Matt Tritt

    I’m happy/sad to see the values climbing up where they should be on these cars. The final price will probably be enough to keep it safely parked for the next 50 years in some concrete underground garage. :( My dad had a 59 300 Adenauer and my mom had a 52 220S Cabriolet, complete with a Becker Mexico and altitude/octane adjustments from the driver’s seat. Why -O-why didn’t they just put them in undergorund bunkers for me to use later?!

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  5. Mark S

    To bad it wasn’t a standard transmission it would be much more reliable and desirable. Car if maintained could last you a lifetime.

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  6. Cheeks Malone

    As anyone from the DC area will tell you, there’s nothing posh about upper marlboro

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  7. Chris A.

    This will need serious work before it is a safe driver. Going through the Hydrak system to make it reliable will require some real effort, but it is neat when it is working well. The W180II twin carb engine is wonderful to work on and tune, but again takes a thorough effort to get it right. Too bad this engine wasn’t put in the 190SL. As for sticky door hinges, this body shell is the only one I’ve ever seen with grease fittings for the upper and lower hinges. You’ll need a air cleaner as the valve cover is vented directly into the air filter. Looking at the engine bay, notice heater boxes along each fender. There was a cold weather option where you could order another heater core for each side and double up the heater capacity. Driver and passenger controlled their temp independently of each other. This has the American interior with white plastic trim, I converted mine to the dark plastic as it went better with the interior tan and Brazilian nut brown body. Maintenance intensive car, but worth the effort. Great road car. This one is in the survivor class and will price out top end.

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  8. brakesevo

    Sorry to the seller for the bad news, but I think I had a better unrestored ’57 220S. Mine even had the air cleaner assembly and conventional four-speed with clutch pedal. Found it in Adelaide, Australia so it was also RHD. Sold it to the Crown Prince of Thailand. I’m sure it’s still in superb condition.

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    • Dave Wright

      After studying the hydrovac, I am seriously considering converting mine to a manual. I am pretty sure the car was taken off the road for transmission problems as there is a spare in the trunk. The one time conversion looks easier than the potential long term maintenance requirement to keep the semi auto working.

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  9. brakeservo

    I converted a Hydrak to conventional clutch pedal 32 years ago on a ’59 Mercedes. It’s easy if you have a complete parts car for all the clutch linkage and pedal parts. You will also need another bellhousing, flywheel, pilot bearing and clutch assembly and a longer drive shaft. The existing transmission will work fine. But if the Hydrak works OK, I’d leave it as is for the novelty value. I wish I had done that on my car, but it’s long gone now. Sold it when I moved to Oregon.

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    • Dave Wright

      If I can find someone to make it work I would keep it. it looks like the electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic components will be a challenge to reserect after 2 decades in a garrage. So…..the adventure continues.

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  10. Chris A.

    If not correctly operated, the Hydrak clutch was hard on transmissions and clutches. The shift lever was very sensitive, and drivers made the mistake of resting their hand on the lever or touching it while underway. This would take it out of gear or attempt to shift it into another gear. Also, when shifting, the foot had to come off the gas and then pressed again when in the next gear. On level ground the advice was to start in 2nd, not 1st. There is a wonderful guide on Hydrak over on the MB ponton site. Really good details. Properly set up and properly used, it shouldn’t be a problem. The MB club has members very familiar with the system.
    I had one from 1968-1972 and would like to restore another one, the 220S ponton sedan is just a wonderful car and they are great to work on if you have the tools.

    Like 0

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