Mercedes-Benz Pontons

Former owner: James Heslep Graham (1931-2011)

James B. Graham with his father's 1955 220a sedan

Four friends on a campting trip in 1965. James ("Jimmy") is third from left – trying to stay on the waxed hood.

My father put over 450,000 miles on his 220a. It was parked in the garage for quite a few years and needed to be refurbished. When his health declined to the point he could no longer work on it, and I had purchased my 220S, which was identical, he sold it to a friend who was a mechanic in our home town of Princeton, West Virginia. I've been in Japan for five years, and the 220a is still in Princeton as far as I know.

1) Front view of kids on 220a
a) (L to R): Billy Kite, Scott Farley, Jimmy Graham (me), Todd Craft
2) 220a side view with canoe
a) Left side: Tom Kite
b) Right side: Paul Craft
3) Tent photo
a) Left: Paul Craft and Todd (father/son)
i) Paul is on the right of the side view of 220a w/canoe photo
ii) Todd is on the left fender (right side of photo) of the kids on the 220a
b) Center: My dad and me with Scott Farley (holding the cat-tail)
i) I was second from the right in the photo with the kids on the 220a
ii) This is the only photo with my dad as he was taking the photos
iii) Scott Farley is Todd Craft's first cousin; his father was deceased
c) Right: Tom Kite and Billy (father/son)
i) Billy had glasses and was on the left in the kids on 220a photo
ii) That is Tom Kite's car in the background (I do not know what it was)
iii) Paul Craft drove a Morris Minor convertible (not in any photos)

Ponton Poker Deck

Six of Diamonds

An interesting note about the 6 of diamonds in the Ponton deck of cards. My dad passed away before the deck was produced. Graphic artist, Lenna Winther-Saxe e-mailed me, and I let her know I was in the US for my dad's funeral. She placed the inscription on the middle of the 6 of diamonds, "James Heslep Graham 1931-2011." She informed me of what she had done after the cards were released. It makes the Ponton cards even more special to me. The front of the playing cards also featured dad's 1955 220a sedan. I sure miss Lenna in the International Ponton Owners Group (IPOG)!

Editor's Note: The complete Ponton Poker Deck is for sale on the Swap Meet page.

1957 Mercedes-Benz Type 220S

1957 Mercedes-Benz Type 220S / Evansville, Indiana

My dad's first Mercedes-Benz was a 1957 220S, black with red leather, no sunroof. He got the car in 1961. The first owner was actor William Holden. My father was the third owner. I was only three years old when he got it, but I was hooked on Pontons from that time. According to my dad's stories, I was telling people the differences between a 219, 220a and a 220S at that young age, describing number of carburetors and differences in body length. I was unable to read then, so I was just repeating what I heard my dad say about various Mercedes-Benz. He owned that car up until the time that a train hit it!

We were living in Evansville, Indiana at the time. My dad was a professional photographer and used his cars for business. He was delivering a large amount of photos that were in the trunk of the car. He was crossing a rural railroad track that crossed the highway at a 45 degree angle. There were no signals, so he stopped at the crossing, then proceeded. His front left wheel got stuck between the rail and the wood plank and killed the engine. He restated the engine and tried to move the car, reverse and forward, but it was stuck to where he would kill the engine when the clutch was released, even when the engine was revved. He then heard a train whistle which was approaching quickly (later told the freight train was doing 80+ mph). He floor boarded the accelerator and tried again to move it, but it did not move and he got out and ran. He heard the collision, turned and saw the car punted like a football (like the W108 hit by the train in the Bond film "Octopussy"), then is was "snowing" 8x10 photos that were in the trunk of the car. The photos will make any Ponton lover uncomfortable.


1961 Type 190Db, and 1955 220a sedans

West Virginia / 1964

We moved back to West Virginia in 1964, when dad purchased the 1955 220a in the camping photos. The next year, he got a 1961 190Db to go with the 220a. To me these cars were special, and I was even more hooked on Pontons! The car in the background was a Ford that was owned by the neighbors across the street. As a little boy, I got in trouble many times for playing in that car when I was told to stay out of it!

James B. Graham 
1958 220S with Webasto sliding sunroof
Tokyo, Japan
January 18, 2015

Created: January 18, 2015 / Jeff Miller

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