1958 Mercedes-Benz 220S sedan

Kevin Kuhn / kevin@progsolution.com / Malvern, Pennsylvania


Kevin's 1958 Type 220S sedan on the lift

Kevin writes: I purchased the car from a client who is 80 years old and in a retirement home. Allen (my client) purchased the car on June 20, 1970 from Turner Motors in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The car had about 18,000 miles on it and the salesman at Turner told Allen that it was traded in on a new car by one of the DuPonts, which in this area (West Chester being 30 minutes north of Wilmington, Delaware) is about as common as the name Smith. At the time, he worked at University of  Pennsylvania in the labs and a friend of his kept bugging him to sell it to him. On January 20, 1973 he caved in, and sold his friend the car. At that point the car had 24,650 miles on it, and from then until January 31, 1983 a ďLittle Blue BookĒ was maintained on the car. With the exception of tune-ups, tires and oil changes there was very little repair work done. It was repainted on September 20, 1976. A voltage regulator was replaced at 31,500 miles and a front wheel bearing was replaced at 36,000 miles. The motor mounts were replaced at 55,732. Master cylinder was replaces at 56,000 and one or more wheel cylinders were replaced at 59,000.

The car was parked January 31, 1983 and on October 11, 1996 Allenís friend called him and said ďAllen, you always regretted selling me the car, and itís been sitting in the garage for 13 years so if you want it, come an get it, itís yours. Allen spent the next three and a half years puttering with the car. He tagged it, but never put it on the road, and ended up renting a garage at the retirement village where he now lives to keep the car. In mid 1999 knowing I was a car buff he started telling me how much Iíd like the car and how heíd love for me to have it. I told him I appreciated that, but had just purchased a 1956 Lincoln Mark II and really didnít need another project. Well he kept after me but never came right out and said what he wanted for the car. One day I was out at his place and he kept encouraging me to take this car (which at this point I hadnít even seen yet). Finally we went to take a look. It was solid (especially for a vintage Mercedes-Benz) and had the largest sunroof I had ever seen. I asked him what he wanted for it, and he said heíd like to get out what he had in it. Up to this point I hadnít realized that he didnít pay anything for it. When I asked him what he wanted for it he said $1,500 to which I declined. Not knowing the exact value of the car but having a great appreciation of itís condition I told him Iíd purchase it but he had to take at least $2,500. Allen would hear nothing of the sort and we argued for 15 or 20 minutes. Finally he said that if I wouldnít give him $1,500 then heíd sell it to someone else. What can I say, he wore me down. The only thing he requested was that he could stop by and see it every now and then. I told him when I got it on the road he could stop by and take it out.

Once I got the car, it sat in a storage shed behind my Lincoln until I could build the barn I had been planning on since 1995. At that time, the plans were drawn and my bride informed me that there was no way that was being built until we added on to our present home which we had planned on doing when we originally purchased it in 1991. Last spring I finally got to build the barn (yes we are also enjoying our three year old addition).

 

The 220S "barn"

I committed to not starting on any of the cars until I had everything set up. One of the things I installed was a twin post asymmetrical lift, which was great as it kept the car up in the air and out of the way. In April 2002 I went out to the barn to get something and one thing lead to another, and I pulled the wheels off to have a look. I canít say I was surprised, as I knew the car had no brakes and one rear wheel was not real interested in turning without a lot of convincing. 

 

Right rear brake

As we all know once you get into one of these projects it just doesnít make sense to go half way as thereís too much work pulling things apart again. I had a bad axel seal on the left rear so I pulled both axels and renewed the seals and bearings. Iím also in the process of renewing all rear suspension bushings and other wear items, shocks, rear boot, brake hoses. It just seemed to make sense to drop the gas tank, clean it and replace all those hoses at the same time. Last but not least I ordered a stainless exhaust system from Timevalve today. The wheel cylinders need to be rebuilt and the shoes need new bindings. The wheel cylinders have been glass beaded, and the shoes will be sent to Rochester Clutch & Brake thanks to a recommendation from Henry Magno (Magno Restorations). Tom Hanson at Caliber Motors has become my new best friend! Note that Tom worked at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California after Caliber Motors. I canít say enough about the knowledge and service Tom has provided since I dipped my toe in the water.

My goal at this point is to renew the brakes and suspension, and get the car on the road for a couple of years and enjoy it. This will also give me an opportunity to work out all the little bugs before I begin the refinishing process. The car is very complete and as I said quite solid.  With the exception of the forward area of the rear wheel well, and some other minor areas (light buckets, fuel door mounting, small section of the inner fender in the engine compartment) the car is in great shape. The repaint is okay (not great), but will buff up to be acceptable. Iíve even thought about spot repairing some of the areas and just repainting and blending in those areas. My goal is to change the blue to the maroon / burgundy that was available in 1958. The car's saving grace is that it was always garage kept and pretty well maintained. Weíre looking to get a lot of years of pleasure from this one.


Created: May 18, 2002 / Jeff Miller
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