1927 Mercedes-Benz Type "S" 36/220S

Clifford J. "Jay" Lockrow Jr. / Jaylock@localnet.com / Hamburg, New York

Mr. Clifford J. "Jay" Lockrow Jr. writes the column, Bury Me in an Old MOWOG Parts Box for the monthly publication of the MG Car Club Western New York Centre (MGCCWNYC). He graciously agreed to write about his father's 1927 Mercedes-Benz Type "S" 36/220S for the Mercedes-Benz Ponton website.

Photo 1. Clifford J. "Jay" Lockrow Jr. (right) with his father (Clifford J. Lockrow) and his 1927 Mercedes-Benz Type "S" 36/220S.

 As far as the official, if unwieldy designation is concerned, the first figure represents the German "fiscal" horsepower for tax classification purposes, and the second was Daimler-Benz's peak power rating with kompressor (supercharger) engaged.[1]

There seems to be a good deal of interest in the 1927 Mercedes-Benz Type “S” that my dad owned at one time. I have been asked to write some memories about the car for the Mercedes-Benz Ponton website for a friend in the Rochester area so I thought why not make it into my January MOWOG column as well. After all I know you all look forward so much to MOWOG and I certainly don’t want to let down my fan base.

The Mercedes that my dad owned is pictured in the photo taken in about 1955 at Cornell University during a national Antique Automobile Club of America meet. This was a huge show and because of a tremendous thunderstorm the event was moved inside this big hall where they hold graduations, basketball games and that sort of thing. If you look close at the floor you will see that it is quite wet just behind the front wheel.

Before you ask, yes, that is me standing on the right and I was about fifteen years old at the time. If only I could be that thin now. Notice also that pictured between my dad and I is another Mercedes-Benz probably a 500K or 540K. That was many years ago I don’t really remember.

On to the vehicle. The car was purchased in about 1952 from a gentleman who lived in Chenango Bridge, New York. One of the deals for obtaining the car was we had to find a similar car for him to replace this one. A convertible was found somewhere in the Midwest, possibly Detroit or Chicago, he purchased that car and we got the four seater tourer. The car was equipped with a huge six cylinder single overhead camshaft engine with twin ignition. This consisted of battery ignition or magneto ignition. You could run it on either or both. There were twelve spark plugs, six on each side. It had twin carburetors and a kompressor. The kompressors on these cars were not like ordinary superchargers as they were used more like a passing gear. If you came up on someone and wanted to get by in a hurry you mashed the accelerator to the floor, the kompressor kicked in, frightened the h--- out of the guy in front of you and you screamed by. Once by, you let off and things were back to normal, if driving a Mercedes-Benz “S” could ever be considered normal.

The “S” series were probably the most famous road cars Daimler-Benz ever made. There is a book called “The Car of Kings” by Lozier that chronicles many of these cars that were made for the wealthy. There is one that was equipped with a searchlight that folded into the rear deck that was used for hunting tigers at night by some prince or maharaja. Quite an exotic piece. A car, much like ours, is pictured in the book and is referred to as a factory body and not of exquisite coachwork. The only difference between ours and the one in the book is the door handles and the shape of the window in the back of the top. I’d still take it exquisite coachwork or not. The “S” was for Sports which is what is pictured. There was also a “SS” which was super sports, then “SSK” which was super sports kurtz or some variation which is the German word for short. This designated the short wheelbase cars usually two seater and possibly a competition car. Then came the “SSKL” which was super sports kurtz light and you have probably seen pictures of these with large holes drilled in the frame to save weight. These had cycle fenders if needed but also ran without. Incidentally a little over a year ago an unrestored “SSK” with convertible coachwork sold for a little over £4M (four million British pounds).

Driving the “S” Mercedes was a real thrill. The first thing you had to remember was that the accelerator was between the clutch and brake. In a panic you would come down on the accelerator and this could spoil your whole day as well as anything in the way. The clutch was brutal, and if you got caught in traffic it was not fun. It also had a crash gearbox (no synchromesh) so you had better know how to shift this type of box. Once going it was a dream. The faster you went the easier it handled. It would easily do 100 mph and it saw this on several occasions. Once coming back from Wellsville, NY with a friend following in a Jaguar XK-140 claiming he was doing 90 and the Benz was pulling away. I was following my dad one time in my MG Magnette on the Thruway. We went by a trooper who was selling a ticket to the policeman's ball to a motorist and we and several others went by woosh woosh woosh. The trooper looked up, saw the old car and ignored it. I do believe we were close to 80 that time.

There are stories galore about this car and I really wish I knew where it was today. My dad sold it in the mid 1970s and it went to a collector down-state. After that, it was sold, and it went to England as I saw it advertised in a English magazine. After that, its whereabouts is unknown to me. It was a fun car but a little thirsty especially with the kompressor on.

Clifford J. "Jay" Lockrow Jr.
December 12, 2005


[1] Mercedes-Benz - The First Hundred Years / p. 32 / Richard M. Langworth / © 1984

Created: December 12, 2005 / Jeff Miller
Last Update: August 01, 2022
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