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His Father’s Car: 1952 Mercedes-Benz 220

front left

The Mercedes model W187 like the 220 above was the first new Mercedes introduced after the war. It was based on the prewar W136 models introduced in the 1930s and built until 1950. The tooling for the 170 was the only complete set that had survived the war, so after the war Mercedes used what they had, first building the model 170 and then introducing an improved version. The  W187 models had a new, 6 cylinder overhead valve engine and a 4 speed manual column shift. The headlights were moved from stalks next to the radiator to the fenders. This model was only produced for 3 years. This old Mercedes 220 listed on eBay has been parked for the last 40 years. It was the seller’s father’s car. The BIN of $26,000 seems, well, really high. Perhaps the reserve is more reasonable. The cabriolet models are six figure cars, but the saloons sell for about $50,000 if they are really nice and this saloon is far from nice.


The interior is complete and doesn’t appear to have had resident rodents.


The dash and instruments are are there, including even the radio.


The engine is said to be free, not locked up. This 6 cylinder OHC engine is the same basic engine used in later models for over 20 years. It’s the same basic engine that’s in my 1965 220S.


The seller provided several pictures of the underside. It appears very solid with only surface rust.

left rear

This could be a wonderful old car if it was restored, or even made drivable. I wonder what is under all that dirt. It could look pretty nice. I hope this Mercedes can be rescued. If his reserve isn’t too high, perhaps someone will save it. Compare this Mercedes to one on BAT that the seller was asking $18,000 for. It’s really too bad when a deserving car like this comes up for sale and the seller wants way too much money for it. For those of you that can appreciate this car, what do you think it’s really worth? What would you do with it? What would it take to make it drivable? I look forward to your comments.


  1. RayT Member

    No matter how nice this M-B is, the high (excessively so, if you ask me) asking price is only the beginning. A restoration, which this car deserves, would be a spendy process; parts are available, but the M-B Classic Center doesn’t give them away, by any means.

    And even if it’s as good as it looks, I wouldn’t attempt to drive it until a full mechanical renovation was done. Before that, the new owner would have to make sure all that “surface rust” isn’t covering more rust.

    So it’s a car that would be neat to own, but unless the owner is, shall we say, “flexible” on his price, it might end up sitting another 40 years. And that would be a shame.

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  2. Fred

    Doesn’t really matter now much the owner wants…the market will determine the value. If they want to sell, sooner or later they will have to take a reasonable offer.

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  3. Donald Jones

    the 52 mercedes saloon . and I am a mercedes fan just not of this model when compared to the 52 jaguar saloon which had sleak styling burl wood dash plush interior withburl wood sering trays and a 160 hp dual cam engine verses a 80 hp strait single cam for the mercedes benz . sorry they had the right idea when they used these for police cars , they just couldnt catch anyone.

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  4. charlie Member

    Compared to almost any US designed/made car of the time they were a real wonder to drive – a friend had one in the late 50’s, his father’s old car, it was tight, had enough power to do a steady 65, steered well, quiet, well suspended, and just felt SOLID. I was driving a ’56 Chevy which was bigger and had more power, but also had rattles, and leaks, and could not take the corners as fast and as competently.

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  5. frenchbuff Member

    Having just gone thru a ’52 220 cabrio that sat for 20 yrs in a good garage in Ca., I’m amazed at the excess of engineering that they put into the brakes. I counted around 80 parts on these 4 wheel drums that are superfluous vs most other drum brakes of their vintage. Most significantly, they use cast iron shoes, machined on both sides – ridiculously expensive design contributing nothing to the braking ability. Each shoe has a fixed heel, on an approx 1/2 in. thick pivot bolt. Since this shoe mounting approach holds the shoe very accurately in position on the backing plate, when they are relined, each drum has to be measured accurately for inner diameter, and the shoes for each drum ground to the same exact diameter in order to get the most useful wear life and immediate good braking. Without this very careful grinding, the shoes will take a very long time to bed themselves into full contact with the drum. Most other drum brakes in the world use full floating shoes with heels that can slide radially to follow any unevenness in the drum surface without producing a wobbly stopping feel. This means also that the shoe curvature can bed itself into full contact with the drum surface faster than a fixed heel shoe. The combination of pivot bolts, loads of spacer washers sandwiching the shoes between the cylinders and other brackets adds up to lots of unnecessary assembly time and difficulty getting everything back together.
    Not only that, but when I priced replacement front cylinders – 4 needed – on the Niemoller site in Germany, they wanted $1500 approx for the 4 cylinders – ridiculous. I had them sleeved in Minneapolis for under $600 with stainless. As i went thru the car from one end to the other, I found all sorts of complex, hard to access aspects of the design that made it one of the most difficult cars to work on I’ve ever experienced. But the most disappointing aspect was the no. of unnecessary parts in the brake system which contribute nothing to the braking experience and ability vs. other much simpler drums on many other cars. So I hope the buyer of this sedan knows what he’s in for –

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  6. Drew

    Colonel Klink had the 42 model…looks similar. I think someone will offer around $15k
    & eventually if he holds off (up to 6 months) he’ll get offered around $18k.
    I’ve noticed prices are moving north again for classic German.

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