Ponton Project: 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190B

Imagine having a model of car that is colloquially referred to as a “ponton” which translates loosely into “a landing barge”. Doesn’t sound too enticing, does it? Nevertheless, that’s the term being bandied about to describe what is essentially a pile of ponton parts that comprise a 1960 Mercedes 190B. Let’s see what’s here, maybe there’s a pony in there somewhere… This Mercedes is located in Cheyenne, Wyoming and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $500 with one bid tendered so far.

Things get a bit confusing at the outset as the seller describes this Benz as a 190D which designates it as a diesel-powered car but the engine doesn’t show as a diesel unit. That would lead one to the conclusion that this is a 190B (model W121)  that was offered between 1959 and 1961 and saw a production volume of about 28K units. That would mean a 90 HP, 1.9 liter, in-line four-cylinder engine. The seller advises, “The engine ran good about four years ago“. I’d go with the assumption that’s not now the case. Gear changes are handled by a four-speed manual, column-shift activated transmission.

It is suggested, “As you can see from the pictures that the body is in good shape with a few defects“. Yeah, maybe, it’s hard to tell with it disassembled and so much missing which begs the question of “what happened to it to end up as it sits?” There is no disclosure on that front but the seller states that he was going to combine this Mercedes with a 1959 190D (the 190D reference perhaps?) to make one good car. At first blush, the few exterior images are not indicating signs of serious rust or crash damage but they’re not very revealing either. If you examine all of the images, there are several of what looks like a field-find of miscellaneous items but what’s there, what’s not, and what needs to be is undisclosed.

The interior is best summed up by asking, “What the h@*! happened in here?” It is a total disaster of what looks like a tsunami of weather, age, neglect, and animal/rodent hi-jinx. Interestingly, there’s a corner broken off of the steel glove box door as if someone tried to pry it open – I’ve never seen that happen! It appears as if there is nothing of any value there though there is an aftermarket cassette player…and the ignition key.

Even if the body shell is viable, and the engine is not seized and is capable of further use, I’m seeing mostly scrap here and that would seem to mirror other’s views too as there has only been a single $500 bid tendered over the last four days. I hate to pronounce sentence but I’d estimate that this 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 is over and out, ponton or not, what says you?


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  1. Norman Wrensch

    It is most definitely a diesel, I don’t know were you come with that it is not. So it is a 190D. The body does look very nice, but must agree the interior is a mess. But I would sooner fix interior then I would a body.

    Like 5
  2. Blyndgesser

    The injection pump is clearly visible, low on the drivers side of the block. A gasser would have a single sidedraft carb.

    Like 2
  3. Rodney - GSM

    “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”
    …just not this one.

    Like 3
  4. Mike D

    That’s a Diesel engine. Sadly, not cost effective to restore or even make into a nice driver.

    Like 2
  5. Jim ODonnell Staff

    Thanks to all for identifying the engine as a diesel, I tried to find injectors, etc. but couldn’t thoroughly determine what I was reviewing.


    Like 3
  6. Rod

    Finding a new interior or restoring the leftover of the original would cost way more than this 190D could ever fetch.

  7. Matt C

    I have a 1959 190 D b body, in the 2 yr period they were changing over to the newer finned type . Engines were slightly different, try to get a waterpump for one you will find out, the engines are bulletproof , from here I can almost guarantee it will run if it ran before. They are also only about 40-50 hp not 90. The 220 and 240d s are only about 55. Looking at the pictures its missing the stuff I’m looking for to complete it. As some of you said, it can be a money pit and once restored wont fetch as much as the others, but you will have a long lasting vehicle, these would make it to a million miles with right maintenence. My interior is considerably better but mine has also been neglected due to other projects and life in general.

    Like 1
  8. Pat Marriott

    “Ponton” is an automotive design term meaning fenders integral with the rest of the body. The word is German (and French) for “pontoon,” the flat, wide floaters used to build a temporary bridge. Since almost all cars have been designed that way since the mid-50s, no one uses the term any more.

    Like 1
  9. Keruth

    Uni-body sitting in a field long enough to smoke the interiors like that, been striped, other D is also listed and worse, but w/some chrome.
    Parts at best.

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