1958 Mercedes-Benz 220S Cabriolet
Chassis no. 180.030-8507446
Motor no. 180.924-8502182
Body no. A1800308500256
With the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz 220 S, increased horsepower output of 106 by two Solex downdraft carburetors was touted, as well as the introduction of a Hydrak hydraulically operated clutch as a cost-extra option. Production of the 220 S spanned from 1956-1959; the vast majority of the 58,708 total units produced were the four-door sedan, with a mere 2,178 being the lovely Cabriolet version like the example we have available.
These were among the last of the truly hand-finished at Sindelfingen to the highest standards of Mercedes-Benz’s prestige models employing an army of skilled craftsmen whose coachbuilding lineage stretched back to the legendary supercharged models of the prewar era. This, in part, explains why the Cabriolets cost nearly 75 percent more than their saloon equivalents! The limited number of survivors from this tiny production run add to their desirability and exclusivity today.
This example was owned for some years by a collector from Winter Park, Florida, who later sold it to a collector in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. Complete but in need of a restoration, he began disassembling the car for a restoration that he was unable finish, and in turn sold the Cabriolet to the current owners in 2007 who committed to making the dream a reality. CrossRoads Restorations of Anderson, South Carolina oversaw the restoration; their previous efforts have resulted in multiple concours and club awards, including prizes at the Meadow Brook and Forest Grove concours events, as well as AACA National First Prizes and Senior Awards.
Embarking on the restoration, the disassembly that had been started by the previous owner was completed. One particular issue known to develop on the 220 S is rust in the rear quarters as found on this example; all soft metal was replaced with much of the fabrication being done by hand. Once the body was ready for paint, the owners consulted a copy of the original build sheet, and as such finished it in its original color combination of DB158 White Grey with a Black top and Roser Red leather interior.
The restoration, including that of the 2.2-liter inline six coupled to its Hydrak semi-automatic transmission, was completed in 2010. The restoration effort included sourcing OEM and NOS parts from suppliers like the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California as well as from European suppliers during two trips to the Veterama Show in Mannheim, Germany. In late 2015, the owners added an electric fuel pump to help prime the system after periods of storage, cleverly connected to the choke light.
Since completion of the restoration, the owners have added several hundred miles to the odometer breaking the car in order to sort it as completely as possible, such as installation of new kingpins to remove a small amount of play in the steering. Several years on, the cosmetic fit and finish is excellent and could be show quality with minor additional detailing particularly in the engine bay, and overall this car is a joy to drive with the top up or down.
With its lovely styling and coachbuilt quality, it was a joy to take this 220 S out for a ride and it didn’t let me down in anyway. Shifted nicely through all 4 gears with the Hydrak transmission and clutch working flawlessly. Steered, braked and performed as Mercedes intended to. With the wind in your hair, it was a real pleasure to drive.