Hidden For 20 Years: 1961 Mercedes 220SEb Coupe

I’m not sure why people amass large collections of derelict cars, especially when they represent expensive-to-restore marques such as Mercedes-Benz. They’re just going to sit there, as this one did in the owner’s garage in Dayton, Ohio for more than 20 years (next to a grotty-looking 300SEL). It’s described as a 1961 220SEB Coupe in dark red, not running but sporting a relatively rare stick shift, for sale here on eBay.

Bidding is at $3,850 with three days left in the auction. Mileage is only 87,500.

The good news is that the car was undercover, in a dry garage, sitting on flat tires. The photos are terrible, and the car could indeed be quite rusty, but only one spot of the surface variety is visible. The paint even looks like it could be buffed up. I think it’s actually a 220 SE, with the “E” denoting fuel injection. The “B” designation was for the sedans.

This is a W111, produced from 1959 to 1971 and replacing the Ponton. In coupe and convertible form it is one of the best-looking Benzes ever produced. The 220 was the “entry level” model; there were also 250, 280, and 300 variants. They’re all gorgeous, though the 300’s air suspension was problematic. The convertibles are even more desirable. Some of the coupes had sunroofs, but this one doesn’t.

The interior condition is critical on these cars because everything costs a fortune to redo, and from the one blurry photo, this one looks to be in could-be-worse condition. The seat leather and door panels will have to be renewed, but the wood dash could possibly be intact. Why, by the way, do people leave stuff on the seats when they take the photos?

The condition of the 2.2-liter engine is unknown, but at least it’s intact. The car is also said to have its transmission in place, and the shifter is still visible. I’d definitely budget for a rebuild, and it won’t be cheap. Also undoubtedly part of the deal will be all new brakes, a new gas tank, a clutch, and on and on. I know a guy who paid $1,000 for a 300 “Adenauer” and then $250,000, far more than it is worth, to restore it.

Your choices would seem to be shining this lovely old Benz up and keeping it in your living room as a static art display, or biting a very big bullet and restoring it. If you can do the work yourself, you’re way ahead of the game. What course would you follow?

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Comments

  1. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    Why? Because 20 years ago he could have bought it for $380.00 that’s why.

    Like 5
  2. Joeinthousandoaks

    That could be a great find. Nothing about title or VIN that I could see Looking EBay in the app version But could it be a later car? My spidy sense went up on it. If it is a 61 it would be worth bringing back to life

    Like 1
  3. jrmedsel

    The air suspension is not problematic. But on 50 year old cars, like any component, the system will need to be gone through and renewed. And that’s not cheap.
    I currently daily drive a 300SEL with air suspension – to the tune of about 10,000 mi/yr. It has never failed me, and can sit for weeks at a time without dropping (no leaks).
    And, of course, the ride is phenomenal.

    Like 1
  4. Pete Phillips

    Had one of these beautiful gems 20-25 years ago with the 2.2-liter six and the 4-speed manual on the floor. SEB is correct designation for the rare 2-dr. hardtop. These were way ahead of their time in design and mechanical fuel injection features. Extremely well built cars. But they are geared very, very low–that tiny displacement six is screaming for relief at 55-60 mph, but it can take it and is built for that–just very disconcerting for most of us American drivers. This one has too many unknowns to go for much $$$ and will be very expensive to get up and running if anything is wrong.

    Like 1
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Had a brace of these. 220b, 220Sb, 220SE and both a 300SE Coupe and Fintail.

      The 220’s could cruise at 75 without effort though you didn’t get there amazingly fast.

      Kept a 72 mph average on a trip from Massachusetts to Michigan, an AVERAGE. The big hills in Pennsylvania, slowed me down as I was in a 4 speed manual most times.

      I had little issue with the pneumo suspension. I did however learn far more about hydraulics than I ever wanted with a 600 grosser. Did go like scoot though. Just kept ansorbents handy.

      Like 1
  5. Keruth

    a, ya, where’s the fins?

    Like 1
    • Pete Phillips

      No fins on the SEB. That’s why their design was so far ahead of its time. These were introduced at the Paris Auto Show 1960-61 and caused a sensation. They still look good and fresh today, at least when kept up and maintained, unlike this one.

      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        As far as I know….. SEb was a trim/option issue. The data plate on two of my 4-door sedans stamped SEb.

        The coupe, was a whole diffeent animal. Until you mentioned its introduction date, never thought about how sllek it looks for the time.

    • Greg Millard

      SEb coupé has none

  6. Richard

    Wrong bumpers. The originals are very rare and speedy. I might want to get a look in the trunk and underneath if I were in the market for this thing.

    • LMK Member

      The bumpers are correct.
      “Speedy bumpers” , huh?

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