Offered for sale is an exceptionally beautiful, numbers-matching, solid and strong 1961 Mercedes 220SE “Ponton” Coupe, finished in ever-striking two tone Graphite Grey (graphitgrau, DB 190) and Ivory (elfenbein, DB 620) over a lustrous red interior. This 220SE is one of only 830 coupes produced by Mercedes over a short two-year production run, making it the rarest of all “Ponton” bodied W128 cars. Built in late 1960 (and sold in the United States as a 1961 model year car), this is also one of the last and best of the breed, benefitting from the desirable and advanced 2.2L fuel-injected engine and a standard 4-speed transmission (NOT the awful Hydrak variant with an “automatic clutch”). Of the 830 cars produced, surprisingly few were ever sold to America and even fewer remain on the road today, making this a truly uncommon opportunity to acquire a rare and appreciating classic.
A California car throughout its entire pampered existence, this restored example has been in a 20-car San Francisco Bay Area collection for the past decade. According to the prior owner, over that period nearly $50k was spent returning the car to its current gorgeous condition. That’s not to say that it was ever discarded and left to the elements. According to the prior owner (who acquired the car from his friend, the very long-term second owner), upon purchasing the car it was a running, driving and presentable survivor with only 74k original miles. That said, the prior owner wanted to elevate the car’s aesthetics and in the process also decided to commission a thorough mechanical refurbishment, including (but not limited to) the brakes, fuel injection system and an engine rebuild.
Consequently, the car is an absolute joy to drive, starting effortlessly, idling consistently and pulling strong and smoothly through each of the gears. Compression is excellent, as are the car’s road manners, driving and braking straight and handling smoothly but with purpose. We wouldn’t hesitate to drive the car any distance, even as a daily driver (although in our opinion it’s too nice for that kind of use). The work performed is also evident in the engine bay’s appearance – clean, well sorted and free of the 50+ years of grease and road grime that would have otherwise accumulated. The same is true of the car’s solid, completely rust-free undercarriage.
The lines on a W128 Coupe are timeless, carrying the stateliness of the pre-war and immediate post-war models into the more sporting elegance that informed Mercedes’ 1950s design direction. The following models in many ways established the marque as a global automotive powerhouse, but they lacked the same soft-lined design features that make these cars so charming. This car – especially considering its livery – epitomizes the period. The two tone Graphite Grey and Ivory finish is in excellent condition, marred only by negligible imperfections that don’t appear in any of the pictures. The chrome is in excellent condition, free of pitting or hazing and blemished only a single soft ding in the driver side door trim. The rest of the trim, bumpers, grill and radiator shell are all in excellent condition. The same can be said for all of the glass and rubber, and the car’s white wall tires have plenty of remaining tread. The striking red interior is also very presentable, the seats having been reupholstered, and the carpets, interior panels and headliner all in excellent original condition. The car retains its original clock and Becker radio, housed in a luxurious wood trimmed dash showing only minimal imperfections.
This is an excellent opportunity to acquire an incredibly beautiful and solid example of a model that we feel is currently undervalued and has all the tenets of a classic that’s sure to appreciate: a timeless, well-proportioned design, significant rarity, remarkable engineering allowing for true and reliable drivability and part of the era that’s most popular in today’s collector car market. This specific car also has all of the right things going for it: while not a show car, a gorgeously presented example with it’s original, numbers matching engine, superb mechanicals, rust-free body and undercarriage and desirable color combination. It would certainly be right at home in any serious collection or the garage of a weekend enthusiast looking for an appreciating classic that can be enjoyed from day one.