Design of a replacement for the two-door Pontons began in 1957; as most of the chassis and drivetrain were to be unified with the sedan, the scope was focused on the exterior styling. Some of the mockups and prototypes show that Mercedes-Benz attempted to give the two-door car a front styling almost identical to what would be realised in the Pagoda roadster, but ultimately favoured the work of engineer Paul Bracq. The rear bodywork however, persisted, and thus though officially still called a fintail, the rear end design had no chrome fin highlights. Production began in late 1960, and in February of the next year the coupe was premiered in Stuttgart for the 75th anniversary of the opening of Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Unlike the previous generation of two-door Ponton series, there was only one model for the two-door vehicle, the 220SE on both versions, with the identical M127 2,195cc engine. Options included a sliding sunroof for the coupe, automatic transmission, power steering, and individual rear seats. Stylish, reliable, comfortable and very pleasant to drive, it comes as little surprise that the W111 coupe has such a strong following.
This matching numbers 220 SEB Coupe was delivered to the USA, and registered to its first owner in 1964. The 220 was in long term ownership from 1989 in Arizona before being brought back into the Netherlands in 2006. The rust-free bodywork has benefitted from an older restoration and repaint in its original shade of 050 white (Sonderlackierung), and still presents very nicely in contrast to the black leather interior.
With the optional sliding sunroof open and all windows down, you could be forgiven for the sense you are driving in a full convertible. The combination of a smooth straight six motor fed by mechanical fuel injection, and driven through a smooth and precise four-speed manual gearbox, makes this a real joy to drive.