May 2000

1951 Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A

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Mercedes-Benz recommenced private-car production in 1948, revamping their pre-war Type 170, which had been introduced as long ago as 1931. By 1951 Mercedes appeared to sweep away the austerity of those early post-war years and two new models appeared which made no attempt to be economy models. The cars, which were first shown at Frankfurt, were the 220 and 300.

The 220 was based on a strengthened 170S cruciform chassis with wider track, powered by a new 2.2-liter, six-cylinder engine developing 80 bhp at 4,600 rpm. Although it now had faired-in headlights and more room, the first 220 retained the dignified but dated pre-war body styling of the 170. But in its performance and behavior it established the character of other Mercedes to follow: its smooth, short-stroke, high-revving engine with a chain-driven overhead camshaft gave a good specific output at the expense of relatively modest torque at low engine revs. The ability to sustain high cruising speeds without risk of mechanical failure or premature wear stemmed not only from high-quality engineering and manufacturing but also from very careful attention to cooling and