Taxi Cab Dreams: 1960 Mercedes 190D

The seller of this long-abandoned 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 “Ponton”-series sedan claims it was imported to be used as a taxi cab here in the U.S. There’s some irony there, as many W123s that leave our country for overseas markets often end up living out second, third, even fourth lives as taxis that are used hard and put away wet. Sadly, as you can see by this posting here on craigslist (go here if the ad disappears), this lovely diesel-powered 190 never made it that far and has been stationary for quite some time. The seller has no price listed, instead asking for potential offers.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader leiniedude for this find, which is hidden somewhere on a property in Edgerton, Wisconsin. The seller claims it was running and driving 15 years ago, then parked and forgotten about (that’s an understatement). I can’t imagine the body is solid underneath, based on the proximity to wet ground and leaves that it’s sitting on. Most of the trim is past the point of being restored, headlights and rings are missing, and of course, the iconic three-pointed star is long gone.

As you can see, there is significant rot in the lower door sills. The original hubcaps are still attached, which is a pleasant surprise. Glass is intact, so no trees have fallen on it lately. These Ponon-bodied sedans represented a major refresh for Mercedes’ lineup when they were introduced, and they preceded the longer-finned Heckflosse sedans that we’ve featured in the past. My preference is for the more angular later models, but the diesel engine in this example makes it more appealing than a similar gas-powered variant.

On that last part: I just think the longevity that Mercedes-built diesels are known for always make these cars intriguing candidates for restoration, simply because so much of the company’s success was built on the reliability and durability of its diesel cars and trucks. Now, this one being saddled with an automatic makes it tough sell for any sort of rescue, but the European-spec models usually have some other features baked in that our U.S. models didn’t receive. The 190 is likely past the point of resurrection, but we hope it at least helps another Ponton live on.


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  1. Rx7turboII

    Edgerton wi is in my area if anyone wants a personal opinion of it up close.

  2. Classic Steel

    Body look better than anticipated with all items on hood and trun from the trees 🌲

  3. Kirt

    I live north of Madison,WI and have been entertaining the idea of rescuing this poor car – I just have fears of what the seller means by “make an offer”. To me, this is a $500 car… in its present state.

    • Robert W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Two cars I own appear here in one day.

      I have av220SE Ponton.

      The rust will be in the engine/suspension cradle along with the rear suspension mounting points. The floors will be a memory.

      The heater cores, one on each side of the engine will be in cardboard plenums. Somewhat expensive to replace but necessary.

      The 190 series suffers a little lookwise as the front end is shorter on the 4 cylinder cars. The grille also grew wider to try to hide the body’s age.

      Because I’m not sure where this car in the price range of the marque but the plain Jane versions cane with phenolic interior trim where the upscale came with wood. The wood looks nice, the phenolic lasts longer.

      The mechanicals bulletproof and most rebuildable due to the high quality of the original items.

      By this time there were two options for automatic transmissions. One was the Hydrak, which when sorted isn’t too bad, the other was the next gen 4 automatic which was a good unit.

      Bigger issue is these had a block that were different in the mounting points as those are cast into the block. Later block will not fit without considerable welding, but it can be done.

      Gas tank likely to be toast, fo some reason they had a rigid filler spout to the gas cap in the body, want to guess where the gas leaks started before the rust?

      Oh yes, chromed sheet metal bumpers. I call it sheet metal when it’s 16 gauge or lighter, not traditional bumper material.

      Anything more than $500 would surprising.

    • On and On On and On Member

      Hey Kirt I’m in Lodi, you must be close. Are you going to spring Jefferson? One of my favorite slow cars was an old Mercedes diesel. I’ve never really been in a hurry anyhow. Leiniedude is near also, maybe we can get a BF outing this year, a Madison chapter?

      • Kirt

        I’m in Deforest – right down the road. I’m a HUGE German car nut – I currently own a BMW E3 (Bavaria), BMW E21 (320i), and a VW Rabbit Convertible. I’d love to get an enthusiast group going im this area – most of the groups around here are pretty specialized and I’m not a big fan of the BMWCCA.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        I am all in. Rx7, interested? Great video Gregg! Thanks. Ribs are still healing. Take care, Mike.

  4. Mike

    Another lazy CL seller. At least they posted 7 more pictures than normal. Of course, no interior pics. I think he could wring out more $$$ if he brushed off the pine needles and washed the car. Maybe grab an old tarp and wad it up in a pile next to the car to give the impression that it was covered.

    The car is parked in an odd place in relation to the house. Seller must be not married. My wife would not tolerate seeing a junker MB out her kitchen window for 15 years.

  5. Pebblebeachjudge

    You can’t imagine the cost of restoration on this 190. I am sure it’s 40,000$ for the first round of invoices. Any car, in this condition , take 1500 hours of work. Parts are uber expensive.

  6. SAM61

    Dibs on the grill for some man cave wall art.

  7. Fred W.

    At the age of 14, I scratched up $95 mowing yards and bought a ’59 180A that sat under the pine trees a couple of years. Spent a week carefully removing the pine tar, buffed it out and saddle soaped the red leather. It was then a nice looking car with a 4 speed on the column. Had an engine knock, my dad rebuilt it once and tore it down again when the knock was still there, turned out to be interference in the overhead valve mechanism. Somewhere I have Super 8mm footage taken from the driver’s seat as I drove it the 200 feet in front of our house. Sold it a year later for $200.

  8. Pebblebeachjudge

    It was my first Mercedes, a 190b. I bought it from pete fountain, the clarinetist . In was 1971 it was $500. I sold it 2 years later for $2500. Restored in the driveway. A few years ago, I found it again . 45 years later, I had to have it. Paid $6500. It smells the same.

    • Youssef

      Where can I find 180 or 190 ponton with automatic trans in calif that does not need major restoration

  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    3 years ago, I bought a running/driving example of this exact car for $1800. I really liked driving the car with the 4-on-the-tree, but the diesel was loud and smoky, so I sold it on ebay to a guy in Germany for $3000.

  10. Jose Delgadillo

    PB Judge thats a sweet looking little Benz, Truth be told, that abandoned car isn’t worth restoring, even if it was free. It could be useful as a parts car for a couple of hundred bucks.

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