Daily Driver Potential: 1959 Mercedes 220S

left

This pretty old Mercedes was just listed on eBay in Auburn. It’s an older paint job that looks nice from a distance but up close the paint is cracking and has a lot of door dings. It’s had the same owner for 36 years and it wasn’t driven much and was not driven at all for the last few years. The seller has done all the work necessary to get it running and driving. All the electrical bits work and it drives well. A picture or two of the engine would have been nice, but at least they included closeup and detailed pictures to show the actual paint and interior condition. The engine is a straight 6 with a 4 speed manual transmission. It’s a very original and complete car.

inside

It’s very original and looks nice inside. There are a few tears in the upholstery that were not mended well and the carpet is not original.

under

It looks really nice underneath. The paint doesn’t look thick enough to be hiding rust.

right-front

The bumper and chrome look really nice on the front.

rear

It looks nice on this end as well with perhaps a dent on the bumper. For those of us who like old cars like this, this would be a nice old car just to drive. They keep up with freeway traffic easily and love to cruise at autobahn speeds. I would have the upholstery repaired and replace the tires but wouldn’t do anything else but drive it. Nice 4 door sedans can sell for about $20,000. This one is already bid over $5000 and hasn’t hit reserve. With the work this one needs it should be worth about $10,000, but I’m guessing someone may be willing to pay about $15,000 for it.

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Comments

  1. Trent Poole

    Nice looking Benz. I would use it for a driver. Those are tough old cars if you maintain them properly.

  2. Anthony

    I would imagine in 1959 the styling of this car was considered “old fashioned”, since it resembles early fifties American cars… now it seems a more timeless design, unlike those wild 59’s especially the ones from GM

  3. Luki

    Someone did a fantastic job detailing the underside of this car.
    I imagine that it was treated to a very nice restoration many years ago.
    They didn’t get all the details right, like the carpet, but it wouldn’t take much to make this a stunner.

  4. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Own a couple of these, both injected sixes.

    Have to say, this one looks pretty unmolested.

    Heck, the dual heater plenum under the hood look great, and those are made of cardboard. Lose the heater core to a leak, cardboard will have issues.

    Only thing that would make it better is a metal sunroof or Webasto, but nicely kept.

  5. DW

    Other than the tires looking a little undersized (or just properly sized for 1959 I’m sure) this car has some pretty great looking classic lines. That wood dash is fantastic. Can’t spot any defects.

    Bet you could drive it another 30 years and pass it on to the kids.

    Can’t help thinking it would look stunning in gloss black.

  6. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    DW, 13″ were standard I believe, I mounted 14″ on both of mine and might try 15″ on the one of them in the Spring.

  7. Busyditch

    I have a Benz dealer brochure for this car. Sad truth is there is no year on it! The body style was used for so many years they used the same brochure!

  8. Cargirl

    My heart is breaking how much I love that car but I can’t swing it just now. My 1980 300CD should be out of restoration any day now. Or at least that’s what the restorer keeps telling me. So my classic car budget is shot.
    I hope I find another one as in good condition in two years or so. I would not hesitate to buy.

    Does anyone know what the color is called?

  9. Cargirl

    Also Colin Firth drove this car in the movie, “A Single Man.” You guys probably haven’t seen that movie LOL but the car was certainly a star in it.

  10. brakeservo

    The upholstery on the seats is absolutely vile, like the cheap vinyl on a dinette set from K-Mart. The original materials and workmanship were/are fabulous, not at all like what it’s got now. It just doesn’t look quite right.

  11. Mark S Member

    It certainly deserves a paint job and maybe redo the seats other than that just routine maintenance. Nice car I’m glad it’s not mine though because I’d probably want to be changing things I didn’t like. And I’d slowly over time take it away from stock.

  12. Saabist

    Not wanting to be pedantic car girl but Colin Firth drove the 2 door coupe version in Single Man ! Whoever chose this car for his character got it spot on . Nice usable car though with 2 or 4 doors , over in the U.K. They wearnt a common sight in the early 60’s but I do have memories of one being used as the official mayoral car in a small Welsh town in about ’63 .

  13. Cargirl

    You are correct Sir. It was indeed the coupe. I am seriously impressed.

  14. 4-Doors-for-my-Tuba

    I was in Auburn, California yesterday and would have loved to see this car in person.

  15. Bryan

    The design of this fine Mercedes really illustrates the disparities between the American and European interpretation of luxury cars in 1959.

    I believe the design of American luxury cars at that time truly reflect America’s post-war exuberance, wealth, and global prestige.

    Compare the Mercedes to a comparatively priced 1959 Imperial Crown! Wow!

    • Dave Wright

      I think your point has some validity but your comparison is flawed. You could buy a 300 Mercedes for the cost of an imperial. The 220S was not a luxury car but a mid range car targeted at the middle class, a step above the 180-190 taxi cabs but not in the class of a 300. Mercedes were somewhat expensive on our market compared to American cars but that was more because of the build quality not the opulence. I do both imperials and Mercedes……a 57 300D is a work of art in all ways as is the Imperial.

    • brakeservo

      Another way to compare however is how many 1959 Imperials have survived as compared to 1959 Mercedes 220S. I suspect far more Mercedes, at least percentage wise, still exist and are in service than Imperials. I always felt that given the absolutely superb build quality (just open and close a door on a nearly 60 year old Mercedes – it’s still as solid as a bank vault) shows much more of a long-term commitment to their products. I remember moving to Oregon in 1985, arriving in a 1959 220S and going to the Rassmussen Mercedes dealership in Portland to obtain a part – it was immediately available, still on the shelf, reasonably priced and the counterman knew right where it was without consulting either a computer or a book! Try that even today for a 26 year old Chrysler!

      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Not sure about your theory on a couple of areas.

        The production numbers were radically different due to the many models in the Ponton range. Not all Pontons were high end cars like the Imperial.

        The lovely clunk of that door slam…….does exist but most of that clunk will exit through the floor pan that is not on a great many of these first time monocoque design that lacked rustproofing in internal areas and had accelerating corrosion issues with the 1″ plus horsehair jute and wool carpeting that holds moisture when the seams have opened by freeze cycling.

        Their parts identification is both legendary and amazing. The car’s commission number carries all information regarding the introduction of any changes that are noted by this number, which is why they can always give you the right part unless someone has swapped other parts from other models into your vehicle.

        The Imperial was made by a car manufacturer that had years of experience in the luxury car market whereas Mercedes was practicing export or die philosophy after the war. Before the war they made amazing stuff, after the war, they were fighting to survive. They still made a good car but the European version of luxury was a little underwhelming to most Americans in that era as these were pretty expensive vehicles, more than an Imperial.

        I own a sedan and a carbrio Benz and while at least one of those commands a princely resale price, the Imperial is larger, faster, smoother ride, stops better, though it handles like a barge……a better ride for less money.

        Like the styling of mine better though. Plus I like mechanical fuel injection.

      • Bryan

        I would agree that fewer 1959 Imperials survived than the Mercedes, not because of poorer quality but rather due to its quickly dated styling and voracious appetite for fuel.

        Fins, stainless steel tops, and swivel seats was high living in 1959, but fell out of favor with consumers soon after. By late 1973, the Arab oil embargo hastened the demise of legions of old, dated, and uneconomical Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Imperials….while these Mercedes were comparably economical to drive.

        I’m not deluded into thinking that American cars of that era were screwed together as well as Mercedes, but I can personally attest to the stout construction and reliability of my unrestored 59 Imperial that I’ve owned for 30 years. At 57 years old, it has its original paint and all power windows (and seats) work perfectly…even the power antenna! The 413 & Torqueflite run quietly and smoothly; no engine or tranny rebuilds and the car has 135,000 miles.

        I find the differences in the cars (stylistically and culturally) fascinating and appreciate everyone’s insight and opinions!

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