1959 Mercedes-Benz in fine unrestored condition
Those who stay alert often are rewarded for their vigilance. Last July, David Van Duzer was at his computer perusing E-bay for nothing in particular when an item offering a 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S got his attention. He contacted the owner and was surprised to learn that the car was garaged only a few blocks away from his Arlington, Va., home.
The 15-foot, 7-inch-long black sedan showed some signs of aging, but obviously had been well treated since new. Van Duzer learned that the Mercedes-Benz had been purchased new in Kalamazoo, Mich. The second owner then took the car home to Grosse Pointe, Mich. Eventually the third owner moved the sedan to Arlington, Va., where Van Duzer made the decision to become the fourth owner.
Besides the faded paint problem, Van Duzer says the only other flaw he noted was that “It was running horribly.”
He reports that the hand choke had to be pulled out all the way for the six-cylinder engine to run at all. Van Duzer did manage to drive the 1959 Mercedes the short distance to his home.
The 120-horsepower engine was returned to good health after undergoing a thorough cleaning and tune-up. The problem, Van Duzer, surmises, was that it had been driven only sparingly for several years. Now the engine purrs smoothly as it is fed fuel by the twin Solex carburetors. The steering column-mounted gear shift lever operates the four-speed transmission. There is no power assisted anything on the car with the possible exception of the brake booster pump. “I keep the 6.70×13-inch tires properly inflated,” Van Duzer says. Otherwise the car can be difficult to steer.
“It’s only original once,” Van Duzer says. So instead of having his faded black car repainted he opted to have the original paint brought back to its original luster in a shop that spent 100 hours wet sanding, buffing and polishing the finish. The tires on the car, like the originals, are not radials.
Since acquiring the Mercedes-Benz, Van Duzer has discovered that models like this 220S sedan were manufactured just four years from 1956 through 1959. During that last period 9,114 were produced. The 68.5-inch-wide car can comfortably seat four — five if necessary.
With a relatively short wheelbase of 111 inches, the 2,750-pound Mercedes-Benz can be turned in a 36-foot circle. “I’m having a blast with it,” Van Duzer says.
Inside the comfortable Mercedes 220S virtually everything from the headliner down to the floor mats are in excellent original condition. The red leather seats appear to be in almost never used condition.
The wood-capped dashboard is somewhat weather checked from exposure to the sun, but Van Duzer is reluctant to have it refinished. He would prefer to have his car in unrestored condition. The wooden frames on the windows in the rear doors have ashtrays incorporated in the design.
A full 360-degree chrome horn ring adds sparkle to the black steering wheel. Van Duzer cautions that the turn signals are not self-canceling. The original owner’s manual reports that top speed is “approximately 100 mph.”
Incorporated near the bottom of both of the rear bumper guards is a red reflector. That safety detail must have been deemed sufficient in Germany; however, for cars sold in the United States separate outrigger reflectors beside the taillights were required.
When driving on multi-lane roads Van Duzer confesses that not having an outside mirror on the right side of the car is a liability. “You have to be aware when you drive this car,” he says.
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