A true Mercedes-Benz
1964 M-B 220 (W111)
When once asked by a collector of Scandinavian and Italian cars what single marque would I advise him to spend money on, I replied -without any hesitation- to focus on old Mercedes-Benz models. The reason?
Well, I think that the W111 is a very good reason to start considering vintage M-B models. If one wants to enrich -or even start- a classic cars collection, the 220 sedan is still an affordable option. There is an abundance of spare parts in the market, and -at the same time- the beauty of these extended fins at each side of the car’s tail has always been alluring to the eye. So is the car’s nickname: “Heckflosse” -that is, “Fintail”.
Not to be confused with the W110, the W111 had 6-cylinder engines, vertical front headlights and a longer nose. It shared the same rear fins with the W110 -the latter had round front lights, a shorter nose, and 4-cylinder engines. The story gets a little bit complicated as the W111 coupé version still retained the W111 tag minus the rear fins. There was also the W112 variant, a much sought-after 3.0-litre model with upgraded equipment, air suspension and a hefty price tag. The W112 was being offered in sedan, coupé, and cabriolet versions -the long wheelbase sedan edition beared the “L” designation (“Lang”, which stands for “Long” in German).
The W111 was the brainchild of Freidrich Geiger, an iconic Mercedes-Benz name who helped the firm earn a reputation by also creating the stunning 540K and 300SL Gullwing sports cars. The W111 coupé/cabriolet versions were penned by another famous design master, Paul Bracq, who was responsible for the 600 “Grosser” (W100), the pagoda roof SL (W113), and W114/115 sedan & coupé.
This black fintail shared with me quite a time since I undertook its complete restoration. To be more precise, we both shared the very same age as we were both born on May 1964. Despite its years, this 220 was a pretty good road performer. Everything was working -from its power steering all the way to the doors, that were shutting like a vault. Although its body needed a thorough makeover, you couldn’t help admiring how it was designed, assembled and looked after all these years.
The W111 was made at a time when chrome was abundant and manufacturers were using it aplenty to decorate car bodies or highlight shapes. This is what impressed me the most -that is, how the car looked completely different when stripped out of chrome right before restoration.
Today’s cars are manufactured in a completely different manner -perhaps this might be a good reason behind the anonymity and the lookalike syndrome of contemporary vehicles.
The W111 is a major departure from today’s design principles. This car wrote a unique chapter in automotive design books. Together with the quality of its components and the sophisticated mechanical solutions it used, the W111 will be remembered as a true Mercedes-Benz car and a representative case of how to clearly differentiate your lineup from competitors.
✎ Savas Kalfas, Managing Director, automotohistory.com
© • Photos courtesy of the Auto Business Review artistic gallery.
✓ Check some “before-after” photos of this car’s restoration here.