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Manufactured from 1953-1962, the Mercedes Ponton served as a step into the future for the German auto company. The Mercedes 180 served as the first version of the W 120 series and was introduced in July 1953.
Post World War II served as a critical time for Mercedes to go in a new direction. The result of the new course within Mercedes led to Pontoons providing the public with fundamental elements such as improved automotive safety through enhanced crash protection.
Until 1959, Pontons made up 80% of Mercedes car production between 1953 and 1959.
“Ponton” as a nickname had more to do with the design of the car. The front end had tall, vertical edges of the wings, large bonnet, headlamps, and a grille that was held together via an upright frontal panel.
In addition to a wholly revamped Mercedes look, Pontons came equipped with some key technical innovations that included a self-supporting body and independent suspension for the rear wheels. Underneath the bonnet sat a 1.8-liter petrol engine that was inherited from the Mercedes 170 Sb.
1954 Pontons featured a diesel engine of 1.8-liter variety. 1956 led to a new 1.9-liter engine, while 1957 contained a down-tuned 1.9-liter engine for Pontons that was lifted from the 190 models.
Styling and technical upgrades continued to be added to Pontons every year until production halted in 1962. The most potent engine addition was a 2.0-liter diesel engine in 1961.
A more advanced form of the crumple zone concept initially introduced by Mercedes in 1937 became more developed in 1952 with the introduction of Pontons. Crumple zones were focused within the front and rear sections of the car to decrease energy impact among cabin passengers.
Safety cell and crumple zones were achieved by the design of longitudinal members that were straight in the center of the vehicle, which formed a rigid safety cage with the body panels.
Glam W-180 models were inspired by Mercedes Pontons. Between 1954 and 1959, close to 85 thousand models of the W 180 were produced. An additional member of the Ponton family was the W 105 series that were produced from 1956 to 1959. Long noses of the W 180 were inherited while a little body was reminiscent of W 120 and W 121 vehicles.
W 128 Models
What classic car enthusiasts consider to be the most luxurious Mercedes Ponton is the W 128 Series that was produced between 1958 and 1960. All of the W 128 models were fit with straight-six, 2.2-liter engines.
W 128 models had the most extended wheelbase in the Ponton collection at 2819 mm. Most visible interior parts of the 128 were suited with leather, while an automatic clutch for the four-gear mechanical transmission was offered.
With W 128 vehicles, coupe and Cabrio bodies were offered to consumers. Only 3916 examples of the expensive W 128 were built.
Part of what makes the Ponton so unique is how it inspired future innovation. 1950s Ponton design elements are in modern Mercedes C, E, and S class models.
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