Ponton 180 190 W120 W121
|Production||1953–1962 442,963 built|
|Assembly||West Germany Australia (W121)|
|Class||Compact executive car|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Wheelbase||104.3 in (2649 mm)|
|Curb weight||2690 lb (1220 kg)|
The Mercedes-Benz W120 and W121 "Ponton" cars were produced from 1953 through 1962. They were sold under the "'180" and "190" model names.
The four-cylinder 180 and 190 were the mainstay of Mercedes' lineup during this period. Together with the more luxurious and somewhat larger 220 they constituted 80% of Mercedes-Benz' production between 1953 and 1959. Until 1957, the 180 used the old M136 1.8 litre engine from the Mercedes-Benz 170 Sb with 52 PS (38 kW; 51 hp). Later 180s received a downtuned version of the larger M121 engine of the 190.
The six-cylinder Ponton models were the somewhat longer W128/W180 220s-220S-220SE. The 180-190 and 220-220S 'Ponton' models looked very similar in appearance from the windshield back. From behind, one could not easily identify even the top of the line 220SE (E for Einspritzung, or fuel injection) from a 180, but the longer hood (and wheelbase) and chrome touches identified it as an upscale, six-cylinder model.
The 300 used a much larger frame and body, however, and was an entirely different automobile.
The 180-190 four-cylinders were widely used as German taxicabs. Only these shorter Pontons featured low-wattage parking clearance lights at front fender top rear. A simple left-right toggle above and to the left of the driver's knee selected which side would illuminate, so as not to needlessly run down the battery in winter, no small concern when restarting diesels. Heater air intakes were on both sides of the radiator grille only on the 120/121.
The form and body of the car changed little during its production run. However, in 1957, a year after the introduction of the 190 sedan, the Mercedes star atop the faux external radiator cap was made detachable: reports at the time indicated that this was either to pander to the requirements of certain export markets, notably Switzerland, or to reduce the risk of pedestrian injury in the event of an accident. By 1959, the star was spring-retained on a ball base.
A roadster variant, the R121, better known as the 190SL, was produced from 1955 to 1963.
At the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show, in time for the 1960 US model year, a slightly wider grille and slimmer taillights were introduced. The same wider grill was carried forward to the car's in other respects more flamboyantly styled successors, when the Pontons were replaced by the W110 "Fintail" models during 1961.
|Type||Chassis code||Years||Model||Engine||Number built|
|W120 sedan||W120.010||1953–1957||180||1.8 L M136 I4||52,186|
|1957–1959||180a||1.9 L M121 I4||27,353|
|W120.110||1953–1959||180D||1.8 L OM636 Diesel I4||116,485|
|1961–1962||180Dc||1.8 L OM621 Diesel I4||11,822|
|W121 sedan||W121.010||1956–1959||190||1.9 L M121 I4||61,345|
|1959–1961||190b||1.9 L M121 I4||28,463|
|W121.110||1958–1959||190D||1.9 L Diesel I4||20,629|
|1959–1961||190Db||1.9 L OM621 Diesel I4||61,309|
|R121 Roadster||121.040 hardtop||1955–1961||190SL||1.9 L M121 I4||921 engine|
|121.042 soft top||1955–1961||921 engine|