Mercedes-Benz reintroduced six-cylinder models to its range in 1951 with the 220 and 300 types, both of which were shown at the Frankfurt Show in the spring of that year. Both featured single overhead camshaft engines with the valves set across the head, rather than in line, and actuated by rockers. The 220 was powered by a 2,195cc six-cylinder engine producing 80bhp at 4,600rpm, good enough for a top speed of 100mph with acceleration to match, while the gearbox was an all-synchromesh four-speeder with column change.
A separate chassis was retained for these models, which were replaced in 1956 by a new range featuring unitary construction bodyshells employing large, box-section side-members – hence the term ‘Ponton’ – the others being the 190 and 219.
All-round coil-sprung independent suspension had long been a fixture of the Mercedes-Benz range, and that of the newcomers benefited from the newly developed single-pivot rear swing axle.
A shorter wheelbase was adopted for the cabriolet model that appeared in May 1956 and also for the coupé introduced the following year when the Hydrak semi-automatic transmission become available as an option. Luxuriously equipped in the best Daimler-Benz tradition, these superbly constructed Gran Turismos were priced some 70% above the 220S saloon.
In 1958 the 220 range was updated with a fuel-injected version of the 2.2-litre overhead-camshaft six, becoming the 220SE, though manufacture of the carburettor-equipped models continued into 1959, the saloons bowing out in July and the coupé and cabriolet in October of that year. By the time production ceased, only 3,429 220S coupé and cabriolet models had been manufactured and today these elegant and exclusive limited edition Grand Tourers are highly prized.
Styling and luxury made it appealing to stars in Hollywood and the Cote d’Azure and when new, these superbly constructed Gran Turismos were priced 70% higher than the original saloon.
Less than 2000 220SE Coupes and Convertibles were manufactured and specifications were originally for the US market. This particular example was fitted with the rare Hydrak Transmission which puts it in a select number of vehicles produced making it a truly limited edition model.
Finished in a Sandy yellow with tanned leather interior and burl walnut wood trim, this example has its original features such as the dashboard instruments and Becker radio.
Restoration works totalling $20,836.97 were carried out on the bodywork, brightwork, exhaust system and interior in 1979 and 1981 and today this car is described by the vendor to be in good to excellent condition throughout. The original price of this car new would have been $10,000 making it one of the most expensive cars in the world at the time. Starting life in California in Monterey/Carmel area until late 1970’s where it moved to Pebble Beach and stayed there for it’s last 2 US owners, this car finally left the dry states of USA in 2009, when bought by a wealthy Japanese Businessman and car collector, the owner passed away in recent years and the whole estate was sold off, including this marvellous 220 SE cabriolet.