Auctions and Brokerage
The 220 SE
Characterized by Old World elegance and quality, the 220 SE Coupes and Cabriolets of the late 1950s were still essentially hand-finished automobiles. The 200 series is commonly referred to as the “Ponton” model, not for the semi-integrated fenders, but rather for the shape of its front suspension subframe.
Production of the 220 S Sedan began in March 1956, soon followed by a limited number of coupe and cabriolet derivatives. Built on a 106.3” wheelbase, the cabriolet boasted a heavily reinforced floor pan to compensate for the loss of the fixed steel roof of the sedan and coupe. The unitized body is made of steel, although certain parts are made of aluminum in an effort to reduce weight.
Interiors were finished to the same high standard as the top-of-the-line 300 series, with fine leather, premium carpeting, extensively polished burl wood trim, and chrome fixtures worthy of their Cadillac Biarritz-like prices.
In 1959, Bosch mechanical fuel injection replaced the twin carburetors of the preceding model, creating the SE. While the cabriolet’s 3,200-lb. dry weight made the car more of a leisurely grand tourer than a sports car, the SE still offered good handling and was capable of transporting four passengers along the Autobahn at 70 mph in great comfort even on long drives.
This handsome late-model 220 SE Cabriolet is one of only 1,112 constructed between July 1958 and November 1960, making it quite rare and highly collectible today. In 2007, a previous owner had it refinished in a handsome shade of cream by LaVine Restorations, Inc. of Nappanee, Indiana, known for their exceptional restoration work. During this period, a fresh red leather interior with a matching leather boot for its canvas folding top was also installed. The consignor states that the paint and brightwork are in excellent condition, all the glass and body rubber are new, and the interior wood trim is show quality. The well-appointed 220 SE features a Becker Mexico radio, a clock, a full set of color-coded wheel covers, fog lights, and new bias-ply whitewall tires.
The smooth 2.2-liter inline six produces 130 hp and is matched to a four-speed manual transmission with column shift. While this car’s early history and total mileage are unknown, the odometer read just over 50,000 at the time of cataloguing. This elegant Mercedes-Benz still benefits from its expert restoration work, and would make a fine addition to any collection of high-quality European automobiles of the period.