15-16 August 2014

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Lot 123

1957 Mercedes-Benz 220 S Cabriolet

  • Chassis no. 180.030Z.7512620
  • Engine no. 180.924Z.7500870

Sold for $187,000

106 hp, 2,195 cc OHC six-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

  • Limited-production example and hand built in the classic Mercedes-Benz tradition
  • One of just 1,066 220 S Coupes and Cabriolets produced for 1957
  • Finished in striking Light Ivory and Tartan Red over dark red leather
  • Equipped with an ivory steering wheel, front bucket seats, and whitewall tires

Mercedes-Benz launched its 220a, the predecessor to this car, in 1954. It represented their new generation of unit-body constructed cars, which was later nicknamed the “Ponton” series, in reference to its pontoon-style front fenders. The 220a, considered by many to be the first modern Mercedes-Benz, was built on a 6.75-inch longer wheelbase than its predecessor, allowing more legroom for the rear-seat passengers and more room under the hood for a 2.2-liter six-cylinder engine. Servo-assisted brakes became standard in September 1955.

When the 220 S was introduced in August 1957, the engine had two Solex downdraft carburetors and its horsepower was increased to 106 horsepower. A Hydrak hydraulically operated clutch also became available as an extra-cost option. The 220 S was a quick car by the standards of the day, offering genuine 100-mph capability.

These lovely cabriolets were produced in limited numbers and hand-finished at Sindelfingen to the highest standards of Mercedes-Benz’s prestige models. Bodies were mass-produced yet finished by craftsman skilled in the art of coachbuilding. This in part explained why the cabriolets cost nearly 75 percent more than their saloon equivalents when new. Unlike the larger 300 S models, the 220 S Cabriolets featured a fully retractable convertible roof, giving them a much sleeker and more modern appearance.

On November 4, 1957, this 220 S was shipped to Studebaker-Packard in South Bend, Indiana, the official distributor of Mercedes-Benz automobiles in the United States at the time. This lovely Cabriolet was built to U.S. specifications and lavishly equipped with such features as an ivory steering wheel, front bucket seats, and whitewall tires. It was discovered by a Mercedes-Benz enthusiast in September 1995, who, just two months later, began a comprehensive restoration. The car was entrusted to several experts, including Mercedes-Benz specialist Uwe Lehmann, who was commissioned to oversee the project and perform the final assembly of the components. It was painted in a striking factory two-tone combination of Light Ivory and Tartan Red over dark red leather, and the interior was completed by Hudson Valley Auto Interior. The restoration was completed in September 1996.

Just 1,066 220S Coupes and Cabriolets were produced for 1957, of a total of 3,429 built over four model years from 1956 to 1959. Limited numbers when new add to their desirability and exclusivity today. This example will not only be the “belle of the ball” at any Mercedes-Benz Club event, but it will also provide its new owner with luxurious top-down motoring for four.


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Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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David Swig

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Don Rose

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Gord Duff

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Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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Paul Darvill

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more