1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton sedan

owner: Brian Bannerman / Sidcup, Kent, UK

The backdrop is unfortunately not my house, but a family member's, in the middle of the Kent countryside. It is set in 32 acres with a very smart car collection, which attracts me to visit often.

My car's history has been assessed by working backwards. Doug Broome put me onto the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California � where I spoke to Tom Hanson to try and find out who originally owned the 220S from new. However, the original data card was illegible, so no joy there. I always assumed the car was originally sold in the US because of it being left hand drive, with the odometer in mph, not kph.

Left hand drive, with speedometer calibrated in miles per hour – set in a solid wood dashboard.

I then worked backwards to assess the history. I purchased it from a dealer in Holland, who was involved in the Mercedes-Benz Club Nederland, and their magazine de Zilverster. He had other Pontons, Pagodas (W113), 190SL roadsters (W121), and in February 2016, he was restoring a Type 170V (W136). I trailered the car back to the UK in July 2014 (see photos).

I found the last US owner's address from the title that came with the car, and sent him a letter. He took four months to reply, but sent me a recent history update of where the car had been. No email or internet to make things easy! He owned the car for a number of years, intending to race or rally it, but couldn't bring himself to cut it about, as it was in such good condition. I believe it was at this point that the M108.920 engine (original to the 1965-1967 W108 250S) was put in. He sent me a receipt for $10,000 spent at a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Delaware. New brakes, wheel cylinders, drums, generator, starter motor, radiator, etc. This was in the early 2000s. He bought the car at auction near Delaware, and claimed the car was previously part of the Du Pont family collection. It then went to Arizona, where he claims the car originated from, being why it is so rust free. That is where the Dutchman bought it at auction in Scottsdale. So the story goes full circle, but I don't have any clues as to where the car spent its life from 1959 to the 1990s.

The natural charisma of the 220S Ponton seduced a statue to disrobe and rejoice.

Wide white walls look good. The wheel covers would have originally been painted the body color.

Special car for a special day.

These are photos of the 250S engine in my 220S. Engine number: M10892012023217. This number confirms its from a '65-'67 W108 250S. It also has the four studs either side of the crankcase ready for engine mounts, which are not needed when bolted onto the Ponton engine/suspension frame. All I know is that this engine was in the car before 2007 – proven by these matching photos from 2007. I can only assume it was installed by the last owner on the title, who was going to turn the car into a race car, but presumably abandoned the project. I replaced the air filters with an original, purchased from Phil Langlois, courtesy of the great information in the International Ponton Owners Group (IPOG).

The engine bay reveals an M108.920 engine from a 1965-1967 Mercedes-Benz Type W108 250S.

The M108.920 engine normally has dual Zenith 35-40 INAT carburetors, but these are Solex Pierburgs.

The air filters were obviously aftermarket, but I put a 220S filter onto the twin Solex Pierburg carbs, and everything fit perfectly – especially the breather hose, which was originally dropping straight down the side of the engine, filling the bay with fumes. The engine ran poorly when I bought the car in Holland, but it dawned on me that the Dutch guy was trying to tune the engine as if it was a 220S, not a later 250S engine. They share the same carbs and distributer, but with different contact gaps, etc. The 250S also has different spark plugs and valve settings. When I set everything up as a 250S, put the ignition leads in the correct firing order, it ran evenly and with plenty of power. From what I've read, the main differences between the two engines is that the 250S has approx. 45 bhp more than the 220S and has a seven bearing crankshaft, making it stronger and more durable. I have only done a few thousand miles in the car, but the engine, gearbox, and general running gear have been faultless. Only niggle is a whine in the differential!

Here are some photos of underneath. It had surface rust, but no more than a three year old northern hemisphere car. When I took the headlights out to replace the units for UK driving, there were just handfuls of fine powdered dust, no rot or holes. I rewired the US style amber side lights to the spears on the fenders to turn them into direction flashing indicators. The new lights have a built-in side/parking light and are copies of 1950s Lucas lights with the star motif in the lenses. They really suit the front end.

Best Regards,
Brian Bannerman
Kent, UK
February 27, 2016

Created: February 27, 2016 / Jeff Miller
© www.mbzponton.org

Return to the Type 220S Photo Gallery

Return to the Main Photo Gallery