Lot 268 - 1960 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Cabriolet
|Odometer reading||28,000 miles|
|Estimate||£64,000 - £80,000|
|Result||Sold - £61,200|
This most elegant example was introduced to the market in 1956 and represented one of three new models launched. The 220S saloon featured unitary construction body shells employing large, box-section side-members and with the front suspension sub frame design a German journalist likened to a pontoon or bridge spanning the engine bay which gave rise to the term 'Ponton'. Luxuriously equipped in the best Daimler-Benz tradition, these superbly constructed Gran Turismos were priced approximately 70% above the original 220S saloon. The first 220S cabriolet was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1955 with the first production cabriolet rolling off the assembly in July the following year.
In 1958, the 220 range was updated with a fuel-injected version of the 2.2-litre overhead-camshaft six, becoming the 220SE. Power increased from 106bhp to 115bhp and, while top speed remained unchanged at around 100mph, improvements in acceleration reduced the 0-60mph time by two seconds. When production stopped in November 1960, less than 2,000 220 SE coupé and convertible models had been manufactured. This car was originally supplied to the USA with specifications including rear bench seating, external mirrors, Becker radio, whitewall tyres, sealed beam headlights and the Hydrak automatic-clutch transmission.
These cars were very luxurious for their time and Mercedes-Benz realised that there was a market for a less expensive, more personal motorcar. This was achieved by shortening the chassis of the very successful 220 saloon by 4.7 inches and adding lots of chrome, wood and leather. Still hand-built, these elegant cars were very driveable. The platform for these are very different from their saloon counterparts. There are additional floor reinforcements to compensate for the absence of a roof, the overhang behind the rear wheel is longer and longer doors made for a very appealing look to the car and to save weight, they were steel skimmed over aluminium frames. Lower in weight, with better structural strength than the previous model, the 220 was a better handling car as well.
This particular example was originally finished in graphite grey with cream leather upholstery, matching carpets and burl walnut wood trim. The stunning condition of this model is thanks to major restoration works totalling $20,800 carried out on the bodywork, brightwork, exhaust system and interior during 1979 and 1981. The graceful styling and exquisitely appointed interiors of these cars made them the stars of the 'Jet Set' and many found homes with stars and starlets on the Cote d'Azure and in Hollywood.
Today these stylish and luxuriously equipped grand tourers are highly prized for their beauty and rarity. This stunning lefthand drive yellow 220 SE cabriolet started its journey in the USA and spent the majority of its life in California. Amongst the documents is the American Automotive Registration Card showing that the car lived in the Monterey/Carmel area of California until the late 1970's when it moved ten minutes up the coast to Pebble Beach where it stayed with its last two American owners. After leaving the USA in 2009, it was bought by a wealthy Japanese businessman and collector and has only become available recently due to the owner's passing.