22 Years Stored: 1952 Mercedes 170VA

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

I’ve often thought an ideal storage arrangement would be some sort of basement-style setup where you could sock away a few project cars next to the surf boards and old bicycles. One owner of a vintage Mercedes-Benz W136 chassis is living that dream, as his project-grade 1952 170VA here on craigslist shows, where he’s had it off the road for 22 years awaiting restoration. It’s located in Alabama and the price is $6,000. 

At one time, these were among Mercedes’ best sellers in its vehicle lineup. According to historical reports, Mercedes’ factories retained enough of its tooling even after Allied bombing in WWII that production of the W136 could restart and help the company get back on its feet. Given the condition of the Mercedes, there’s no doubt this sedan has been off the road for many years – and the seller doesn’t hide from the fact that it will require extensive rust repair.

One detail that threw me off is that 1952 seems very late for this kind of design. I have seen some references to production continuing into the early 50s in Europe, but other accounts say this model’s production run ended in 1942. Whichever it is, parts sourcing will be a challenge, I’d expect, especially for bits like an original windshield. Perhaps Mercedes’ Classic Center can be a resource for a challenging restoration like this one.

The upside is that everything is claimed to be there: the motor, transmission, (broken) glass, chrome, trim and so on. At least having some good molds to work with could make some aspects of the restoration a bit less daunting, but good luck finding parts for its front-mount 1.7L four-cylinder engine. As someone who routinely hunts bits down in Germany and seemingly every other country, I can only wish the next owner good luck, or simply recommend the current owner continue to enjoy his basement art. What would you do?

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  1. Don

    O hell just put a Chevy 350 in it.every one else does .

  2. Jay M

    Wow, that is cool. Great restoration project. Needs to go right back to bone stock to be valuable again.

  3. Don

    The yellow unicycle on the wall might be fun.

  4. Dave

    That , my friend, is an ironing board, not a surf board. I would like to see you surf on that. But then again, we’re talking about Alabama.

    • Don

      Um ok.

    • MGgezer

      Hey I resemble that remark! And if I had a feeling it would be hurt! Lol

  5. seth karpen

    Nice yellow panel truck

  6. Rich Truesdell

    If you would like to see the potential of this very interesting prewar/postwar Mercedes-Benz, check out the photo above or the complete portfolio of images for the feature I produced for Classic Mercedes a few years back.


    Here’s a link to the PDF which will give some more background into what I would call a transitional Mercedes-Benz.


    And for God’s sake, let’s dispense with the talk of a SMC 350 transplant. That would be sacrilegious.

    This car, being a 170D diesel, was hard press to pass the cyclist on the PCH in Escondido, California (just kidding).

  7. Ck

    Rather have the panel truck with the surf/ironing board strapped to the roof …lol

  8. Rodney

    As the long time owner of a 1951 220 Sedan I can tell you without any doubt the the cost of restoration far far exceeds current values. Not true for convertibles and coupes. Sedans just get no love. So, this is a car you restore, enjoy and love it for its amazing engineering, build quality and history. Not to make money.
    Someday long into the future, someone will say, “Isn’t is great that someone saved this beautiful and unusual car.” Perhaps that someone is you….

  9. Woodie Man

    My 1952 MGYB looked similar. Kind of a typical postwar European profile…..growing ultimately into the behemoth Adenauer Mercedes.

  10. JBP

    6000$ is to much.
    I see a parts car.
    Maybe if it was a diesel

  11. Bill Walters

    Neighbor had similar one; there is a pedal on the left floor that when stepped on it greased all the fittings on the suspension. Back then you could send the car back to the factory to be rebuilt, I was told.

  12. Cobra Steve

    I sold my 1952 170Va sometime around 2011 to buy a 1988-1/2 Ferrari 328GTS (no, it’s NOT for sale) and a couple of other projects I had. Financially, it was a good move but I do miss the 170. Try Niemoeller in Mannheim, Germany, for parts…great folks and it helps if you speak Deutsch.

    Interesting facts about the 170…while it is credited with saving Daimler-Benz from oblivion, its platform was used for everything from postal delivery vehicles to delivery vans to hearses and ambulances. Last of the full-frame Mercedes. The 6.5:1 compression engine was due to the poor quality fuel available in Germany at the time and the small chrome cover on the bottom of the grille unscrews to allow you to insert the crank to start by hand should your battery not be up enough. Going to the top of the grille is the three-pointed star—it actually unscrews and allows filling of the radiator–not a piece of decoration. Your right foot acts as the starter solenoid when depressing the button above the foot throttle. Two similar buttons on the left side are for the headlamp dip switch and the front suspension greasing system!

    Then there’s the fuel tank directly below the windscreen…now I know where the term “firewall” originated! This did allow for gravity-fed fuel so no need for a fuel pump. Last but not least, notice how the steering wheel horn ring seems to be ajar? It’s off a few degrees clockwise which should activate the passenger side semaphore turn signal which was positioned between the edge of the suicide front door and the side panel/wing just below the windscreen.

    Forgot to mention something else important! The sides of the bonnet I believe are from an earlier W136…the 1952 version had two horizontal louvers instead of the 25+ vertical louvers. I believe they changed in either 1947 or 1949.

    Sorry ’bout rambling on so much. I’ve got a special place in my heart for this little 45 hp (when new!) fella, but I’m afraid the seller’s asking price is not realistic when one factors in the ton of work required, they will be restoring this for love of the marque and not a profit. GLWTS.


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