Kent Bergsma tests an original and unrestored Mercedes-Benz 180D saloon, the famous ‘Ponton’. No less than 442.963 examples of the W 120/W 121 series were produced between 1953 and 1962 – a figure to confirm the car’s really impressive success.
The nickname Ponton had nothing special to do with the personality of the car, it was just referring to the kind of design of the front end: tall, vertical edges of the wings, large bonnet, headlamps and grille being held together by an upright frontal panel – all these were particularities of the (by-then) modern, so-called “ponton design”. Beyond it’s completely new look, Mercedes “Ponton” came with some important tehnical innovations: self-supporting body and independent suspension for the rear wheels (swing-axles).
Under the bonnet, there was an 1,8 litre (52 PS) petrol engine, inherited from the Mercedes 170 Sb. 1954: a diesel engine of 1,8 litre (40 PS) was added to the range. 1956: Mercedes 190 (W 121) claimed it’s superiority over the 180, with a new 1,9 litre (75 PS) engine. 1957: an upgraded version of the 180 was introduced, with a downtuned 1,9 litre engine (65 PS), taken from the 190. Finition improvements were also included. Styling and technical upgrades were fitted to the Mercedes W 120/W 121 series almost every year, until the end of production, in 1962. Something more to mention: a more powerful 2,0 litre (50 PS) diesel engine replaced the 1,8 unit in 1961.
Since Daimler-Benz had not enough ressources to develop completely different car series for different market segments, the Mercedes “Ponton” served also as basis for the glam-models W 180. Their body was, also, somewhat longer.
The video posted by Kent Bergsma features an original and unrestored 180D. The classic Mercedes-Benz Ponton receives the walk-around treatment, then taken for a test drive.