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This highly original example of Stuttgart’s classic Ponton coupe claims a brush with royalty and a three-decade period of care by a French enthusiast living in the US. According to the research of this enthusiast, the car was first purchased in August 1957 by the Spanish royal family as a gift to Juan Carlos, the heir to the throne.
In 1982, the 220 S was discovered in an extremely well-preserved state in a Swiss garage by Philippe de Lespinay of Southern California, a French motorcycle champion who had transitioned to a career in automotive modeling and graphics (even designing the livery of many of Dan Gurney’s Indy cars). After importing the 220 S to the US, Mr. de Lespinay continued to preserve the car dutifully and exhibited it at local shows. Occasional restoration measures were sympathetic in nature, including a 1992 repaint by Jean-Paul Guiral, a former Mercedes-Benz club president.
In 2009, the original engine suffered a damaged piston, and Mr. de Lespinay installed an unused NOS replacement block fitted with a later finned cylinder head, facilitating stronger performance and easier valve adjustment. A two-time winner of the Motor Press Guild’s “Track Days” concours, and the subject of features in Automobile and Mercedes Enthusiast magazines, this impressive 220 S coupe exemplifies Mercedes’ early postwar quality, eminently worthy of marque gatherings and regional exhibitions.