My Dad's 1959 Type 190D
Mercedes-Benz Ponton

Robert Rustico / / Connecticut / June 24, 2006

Robert Rustico writes:

I have no photos of my Dad's Ponton to submit, but would like to share some memories of my "formative years" with his 1959 Type 190D. I just spent about an hour on your website, and really enjoyed the "Necropolis" section because it took me back to my youth.

Dad's "Medium Blue" OM 621 (diesel-powered) Ponton sedan was rare because he bought it in 1974 (when I was 11, and it was 15) for $400 when few people were driving "alternative fuel" passenger cars. The fuel was not widely available at that time. The previous owner, an older gent, owned it for only a couple of years, the whole time driving it by starting off in second gear because he equated column shifters to American three-speeds!

Dad patched it up and used it as a commuter car getting 30+ MPG while all of his work buddies were drowning in gasoline bills from their 12 MPG Chevrolets and Fords. He was so proud because not only was it stingy, but diesel fuel was selling for at least 20 cents less a gallon than gasoline. He was getting the benefits at both ends, and did not care what others thought of his rather tired looking car that resembled a turtle more than anything else. 0 to 60? How much time have you got? But what a neat, "old looking" car it was, and the unforgettable diesel clatter just added to its character. One summer, a parking lot attendant at a picnic asked me, "What year - about a 1936?" It just had that old car look on the outside, with the tall, narrow Ponton grille, and the old car smell on the inside.

In 1978, Dad paid a welding shop some $2k to literally weld in, by hand, the entire undercarriage due to rust. They had the car for a year! By 1982, it was very hard to start because the engine was pretty tired and smoked very heavily too. We never really knew how many total miles were on it. But Dad found a bargain at the local Mercedes-Benz dealer in Hartford, Connecticut - a new OM 621 block with fitted pistons and rings, but no crankshaft - fresh in from Stuttgart, for $300! We should have bought a dozen of them! But having the existing crankshaft and cylinder head rebuilt and mated to the new block gave the old rig incredible amounts of life and the fast-glow Bosch glow plugs proved to be awesome!

The paint, chrome, and interior never did get any additional attention. It was presentable, but nothing more. Mechanically, though, it was as healthy as an ox and would run for days on end with nary a miss and use very little fuel to get us to our destinations. Five bucks in the tank would last me almost a week! By 1992, Dad was not driving the old rig much anymore, so rather than finish the restoration, he sold it to the first guy that showed up to look at it, for 500 bucks!

The eighteen years we had with it were memorable, to say the least, and all I can hope is that the guy who has it today (maybe still somewhere in Connecticut) appreciates it for what it was and is, just a really cool old car that got many looks no matter where we went in it.

Editor's Note:
This 190D Ponton was sold through this website and then prepared to race in the 2008 La Carerra PanAmericana

Created: June 24, 2006 / Jeff Miller

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