Don’t Wait: 1961 Mercedes-Benz 220S

Mercedes Barn Find

There is no telling what might be hiding under all that dirt. Surely the barn has protected its valuable contents well enough that after a quick cleaning, it will look like new. Just think, with a battery and some fuel, we will have a drivable car. Heck, we can resell it tomorrow for a bunch of money! These are the thoughts that go through the mind of an inexperienced car hunter when they are encountered with a sight like this. Unfortunately, the mystic of a barn find is not always that grand. Issues like rust, water damage, and rat droppings can quickly put a damper on anyone’s excitement. What separates the dreamers from the doers though? Most of us would rather sit on the computer talking about cars than actually repairing or driving them. Much like football, most of us are content just watching from the sidelines.

All cleaned up

Admittedly, I have been guilty of the very act I’m condemning here. It may seem strange, but it is actually easier these days to NOT participate in our hobbies. The internet has made it easy to learn, dream, and talk about our interests without having to spend a penny. If you want to get into auto racing, all you have to do is fire up your video game console. Still, there is no virtual reality system that I have found that can provide the same sensations provided by the real thing. There is a feeling of satisfaction that comes when you perform a repair on your own car that just can’t be simulated. I know that many of you are watching this site from the sidelines. Maybe it is because of money, maybe it’s time, or maybe you are just afraid that you’re going to make a mistake? Whatever it is, I encourage you to go find an old car and actually get your hands dirty.

Live Free Or Die

It doesn’t need to be something fancy like this Mercedes. In fact, I would recommend you look for something cheaper to start with. This 220S may seem like a bargain at $2k, but in reality it is far from it. The seller inherited the car from their father and like many of us, never got around to doing anything with it. At least they did have the decency to clean it up a little before listing it here on Hemmings. But, before that it had sat for 34 years without any attention. Now rust has taken hold and a full restoration may not be a feasible option. It’s a shame really because this automobile is part of the seller’s past. It’s too late to do anything about it now, but I’m sure they wish they had jumped into the game when they could have instead of waiting for that someday to come…


  1. john

    I love these “fintails”. i have seen worse than this and a lot better too. Bear in mind in Europe nice ones can be found for around E7000 to E8000 with no rust in countries like Spain or Italy, so dry climate applies. Repairing the rust on this one, in spite of the claim to have solid floors, looks like it will take it out of possible restoration and into parts car territory. It has some good stuff there too.

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    • Horse Radish

      I know these cars like the back of my hand.
      You are right on with your assessment.
      Front right inner fender will tell you past accident history and/or structural rust.
      Plus the trunk floor and we have not even looked in the spots under the car that will most likely look even worse.
      I have seen better cars get crushed out here in California.

      Wrong place , wrong time, WRONG CONDITION

      Save some of the interior parts and what not.
      Definitively (even accumulative usable parts) not worth more than $800

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  2. cory

    I’m actually pretty tempted by this car. I love the interior. There is a lot to like about this car. Assuming it was in reasonable condition when stored it wouldn’t take a major effort to get it roadworthy. I’m not an expert, but this appears to be a low end car and in a Benz that means less things to break. A manual and a 4 cyl make it a simple car. Not sure of that is a carb or fuel injection, but this would be a fun and unique driver. And the price is noce.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      This is an “S” so that’s a dual carb setup. This wasn’t the most powerful 6 available that year, but it was a nice upgrade over the base single carb car.

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      • Horse Radish

        Single carbs were a past in the late fifties (on 6 cylinder motors) and mid-sixties (on 4 cylinder engines).
        The S stands for more luxurious/ higher end line cars.(as opposed to ‘plain’ 220, or the lesser w110, 4 cylinder/diesel line). It’s the proverbial S-class.
        Very close to the top (at least in the top third).
        More wood, more chrome, leather seats (that are present here, and probably the most valuable on the whole car if they’re not ripped or dried up), more refined and upgraded brakes and drive train.

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      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Oops, looks like you are right Radish. Not sure where I came up with that, but I really thought the S had more power.

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      • Horse Radish

        Re: oops.
        You were right.
        More power than single, I was just adding and clarifying.
        SE (fuel injected) had 10 or 20 more hps, and 300 obviously a bigger engine.
        All I was saying is, that upgrade was only possible by buying an S-class, not possible to add to ‘plain’ car (at least in Germany, specs in build sheet and technical inspections).

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  3. John

    Unfortunately the fintail cars are not that desirable, holding the value down.

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  4. Tirefriar

    John, that’s exactly the reason to take alook at one now. Today’s market ramps up a lot quicker than before thanks to the internet. All it takes is a few publicized strong sales and the next thing you know prices start climbing almost exponentially. Having said that, This would make a good parts car. Rebuild the engine to keep as a spare, interior trim appears in tact, etc.

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  5. David Frank David Member

    Rust free California cars are much better candidates for restoration. I found this sunroof 220SB over 20 years ago and although I’ve spent too much money on it, it’s been a great car to drive for the last 20 years. (I paid $2500 for it and the engne had been rebuilt. I traded a 1965 Fairlane Wagon for the paint and body work.)

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  6. Rover

    The Heckfloss have a large following both in North America and Europe. Perhaps the prices are held down by the fact that between all four variants of the W111 true fintail sedans at 220b, 220Sb, 220SEb and 230S the production was +/- 338,000 units? This is not to mention the W110 production of 190c, 190Dc, 200, 200D, 230 (yes there was a W110 230) at another +/-626,000 units – might the price of a 1970-71 280SE 3.5 coupe be different today if at one time there had been nearly 1 million of them roaming the earth?
    The “S” nomenclature to both the ponton and heckfloss 220 line seems to come with the addition of 2 twin barrel twin jet Solex 32 carbs, one jet being used under normal load to the accelerator, the second jet flowing while using the manual choke at cold start or pushing the accelerator to the floor giving the standard M180 block that extra “S” umph.
    As you all have noted it appears that the owners Dad may have ventured onto winter time New York state salt road more than once as there are clear signs on the left engine room wall of “classic” W111 // W110 complete deterioration of the engine room wall support member in the wheel well. The brake fluid in the ATE reservoir looks a bit dark – mud dark.:o) The owner says the doors close nicely which say the A and B pillars are still there. Look at the bottoms of those doors – nice and clean -if that car had been outside since 1981 in New Hampshire the bottoms of the doors would be a moonscape – the barn did its job well.

    A father that knows his way around wrenches, has the jacks and has a safe, dry place to work, understands DIN standardization, and you have a father and son or daughter project…. drain and clean flush every fluid filled line or cavity everything…the two big hurdles will be ungumming the insides of the Solexes and freeing // replacing the piston rings – owner states the car was running fine when parked so rod, crank, and pinion bearing will be fine if the auto was cared for and( it looks like it was) you may get away without rebuilding the head and have a car that will run for another 40 thousand miles. ATE still stocks rebuild kits for all the brake system hydraulics on that car. The mechanical fuel pump diaphragm is still available, along with gasket kits for the Solexes. All other seals are DIN standard, easy to xreference and best of all inexpensive to find quality replacement.
    Trivia fun fact for all of you who enjoy BarnFinds…as I do…this car is early production – I would venture a guess at early 60 off the assembly line – there appears to be no radio speaker hole built into the top of the dash (unless its been covered over by the obvious after market dash cover replacement material) From the Aug59 beginning of production of W111 till sometime in mid 60, if you optioned a Becker or Blaupunkt radio from the factory the radio came in the usual slot, but the speaker came in its own separate cabinet slung under the dash – like the early A/C units. And much like what the owner has done here for his aftermarket installment …except of course MB provided a speaker cabinet that looked as though it came from your mothers finest living room furniture….

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  7. Cameron Bater UK

    Hmm sounds like this lovely merc has been a victim of circumstances, I myself stand to inherit an ex concourse MGB GT in Bronze Yellow, a Triumph Dollomite Sprint in blue (not quite sure which as there’s too much dust.) and a pile of two tone scrap that I think was once a Triumph TR6 (only joking it is a tr6 but realistically it’s a scrap or part condition) in Steel Oxide and Old English White.

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  8. DT

    I had a Black 1959, SB, With red leather.I never checked the serial numbers ,but at the time I never saw an older one. The way I could tell was the front turn signals. It was a beautiful car.It came from Italy and was like new .Wish I hadnt of crashed it,but glad I was in it when I crashed.They were very safe cars! I bent it like a horseshoe

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  9. rover

    DT- would have been interesting to see that VIN – everyone seems impressed by a low vin number when it comes to W112 – W109 of the era – have yet to find anyone interested in a low vin w111 – should be soon – that’s why its called a sleeper I guess???

    Like 1
  10. Geoff

    Very interesting to see this here, as this was my fathers car, which he had inherited from my grandfather. To give a little history, my father got this car in the mid 70’s and it had been used to commute from White Plains to downtown NYC by my Grandfather for most of its life before then, so it wasn’t in the best of shape. My father, a frugal New Englander, patched it up the best he could and drove it as his daily driver until the early 80’s when it would no longer pass inspection without a lot of work. It was then put away in the barn as a “retirement project,” but in reality it was in too poor a condition to make restoration economical and was better suited as a parts car when he finally sold it.

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