PKW4061 "Ponton Mercedes", four-cylinder models (W 120, W 121), 1953 - 1959

"Ponton Mercedes", four-cylinder models (W 120, W 121), 1953 - 1959

In August 1953, Mercedes-Benz presented the Type 180 - internally code named W 120 - , the first passenger car with a ponton-type body. The "ponton" body, which had been built for the first time in 1946 in the USA, was characterised by fully integrated fenders and a rectangular plan. This concept resulted in lower air resistance, less wind noise and also in a much more spacious cabin. Another novelty in the history of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car was the integral body which was firmly welded onto the framework construction. There was a marked improvement in torsion rigidity compared to the conventional construction of the 170 models.

With these construction features, the Type 180 had a concept, which was unusually modern for those times and it was unanimously approved by automobile experts around the world; the only point of regret was the laterally controlled engine, carried over from the 170 Sb model. Although there was no real cause for complaint, with a mere 52 hp, it was somewhat lacking in temperament.

Compared to its predecessor, driving performance was improved once again; front and rear axle suspension were basically the same as in the 170 Sb, some aspects were modified, however. The wheels of the double wishbone front axle were no longer attached directly to the frame, but were suspended from a sub-frame. This was a U-shaped axle-carrier, consisting of two pressed-steel pieces, which were welded together. Not only the front wheel suspension was attached to this device, but also the engine, gearbox and the steering assembly. The sub-frame itself was tucked away in three silent blocks at the front of the frame, emitting a minimum of noise. For rear wheel suspension, the well-tried jointed cross shaft axle was used. The two wheels were now additionally guided by two longitudinal pull rods, which were situated at a great distance from each other.

In January 1954 the model series 120 was rounded off by the 180 D model, which was identical with its fuel-powered sister model except for the Diesel-engine which had been taken from the 170 DS, 12 V electric equipment and adjusted rear axle transmission. From now on, ingrained Diesel drivers could benefit too from the advantages of this modern car concept.

The Diesel as well as the fuel-powered car received a new rear axle in 1955: the single joint cross shaft axle with lowered pivot that had been introduced one and a half years before into the 220 a model and had resulted in much better ride performance due to a lower track and camber change.

Half a year later, in March 1956, a third model completed the production range of 4-cylinder models. The Type 190 was mainly based on the well-tried 180 model. It had a much more powerful 75 hp engine, however. The superiorially steered 1.9 liter unit was originally carried over from the 190 SL, but had been tamed to a large degree by compression and the use of more suppliant camshaft as well as single register carburettors. It was no longer supported at the front only, as had been the case with the 180 / 180 D models, but there were now two additional supports in the rear portion. The brakes were adjusted to the performance of the car: The Type 190 featured ribbed "turbo-cooled" brake drums as well as broader brake shoes.

The exterior of the 190 model was different from that of its more profane counterparts in that it was equipped with different details. Characteristic features were swivel windows at the front doors, chrome trimmings running below the windows, a broader radiator mask with horizontal chrome ribs, decorative trims of different lenghts along the air inlet vents extending onto the fenders to the right and the left of the radiator mask, bigger taillights, louvered wheel rims and wheel caps with a more prominent Mercedes star.

True to the motto "even more value for the same money" almost all passenger car models were presented in August 1957, some with more, some with less significant improvements. All three 4-cylinder saloons had new interiors, number plate illumination, which was integrated into the bumper guards and a recessed handle in the boot lid. The 180 model underwent the most profound changes: the revised version, internally code named 180 a, now also had a 1.9-liter engine with overhead camshaft. This was based on the aggregate of the Type 190, but was derated to 65 hp by reducing compression and the use of a simple carburettor instead of the register carburettor. Moreover, it only required regular fuel. The exterior of the 180 a , too, was upgraded: In contrast to its Diesel-powered sister model, it was equipped with bigger taillights, decorative trims at the air inlet vents and the broader radiator grill of the 190 model - the last, however, without chrome ribs.

From April 1958 the 180 and 180 D models came on the market with swivel windows in the front doors; at the same time the wheel caps of the 190 with the larger star were introduced.

In September 1958 a second Diesel model was added to the car range: the 190 D. The 1.9-liter Diesel engine with 50 hp had been developed from the petrol engine of the 190. The new engine's higher performance and quieter running (in comparison with the 180 D) meant that the new Diesel became an immediate success on the market.


  • 88F21
    In June 1957, the Mercedes-Benz 180 a (W 180 B II), the most inexpensive Mercedes-Benz passenger car at the time, is also fitted with the modern four-cylinder engine that is already installed in the 190 and 190 SL. Although the capacity is throttled to 65 hp/48 kW for the 180 a, compared to its predecessor with 52 hp/38 kW it is still significantly more powerful. The top speed rises from 126 km/h (78 mph) to 138 km/h (86 mph); but more crucial is the substantially improved acceleration.
    Typ 180
  • 59404
    Mercedes Benz 180, 52 hp, sedan, W 120
built from 1953 to 1957
    Mercedes Benz 180
  • 60587
    Mercedes-Benz Motor OM 636 VII -  Mercedes-Benz 180 D, W 120 1954 - 1959
    Mercedes-Benz Motor OM 636 VII
  • 61963
    The only available body version is the sedan with a folding sunroof. Originally planned two-door convertibles are not further developed in favour of the 190 SL and the 220 S Cabriolet A/C.
    Mercedes-Benz 180, W 120
  • 66858
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180/180 D, Krankenwagen. Aufbau Miesen, 1955.
    Typ 180/180 D, Fahrgestell mit 4-türiger Teilkarosserie
  • 66861
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180/180 D, Krankenwagen.Aufbau Miesen, 1955.
    Typ 180/180 D Fahrgestell, mit 4-türiger Teilkarosserie
  • 66877
    Mercedes-Benz 180 / 180 D
"Ponton-Mercedes" Krankenwagen
Aufbau: Binz, 1955
    Mercedes-Benz 180 / 180 D
  • 68437
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180/180 D, Muldenwagen. Aufbau Hägele, 1955.
    Typ 180/180 D Fahrgestell mit 2-türiger Teilkarosserie
  • 68461
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180 D ("Ponton-Mercedes"), Bauzeit 1954 bis 1957. Ausführung mit Kennzeichenbeleuchtung.
    Typ 180 D
  • 71788
    Mercedes-Benz 75-PS Vierzylinder-Motor M 121 B I, 190 mit Register-Fallstromvergaser, 1956 - 1959.
    Benzin Motor M 121
  • 71904
    Mercedes-Benz 190
Production from 1956 - 1959
    Mercedes-Benz 190
  • 71908
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 190, 1956-1957 (Ausführung mit Kennzeichenleuchen auf dem Kofferraumdeckel)
    MB Typ 190
  • 72368
    "Ponton-Mercedes” parade at Sindelfingen plant, 1953. The photo shows that even by the early 1950s Daimler-Benz had become a series manufacturer.
    Werk Sindelfingen
  • 78057
    Mercedes-Benz 180 mit 74 HP / 65 PS-Motor und obenliegender Nockenwelle
Ansicht von hinten seitlich, 1957
    Mercedes-Benz 180
  • 78164
    Mercedes-Benz 190 mit 84 HP / 75 PS-Motor und obenliegender Nockenwelle
Ansicht von hinten seitlich, 1957
    Mercedes-Benz 190
  • 81953
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180 D, 1954 - 59. (Ausführung mit Drehfenstern an den Vordertüren und großen Radkappen)
    MB Typ 180 D
  • 81959
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 180 D, 1958-1959 (Ausführung mit Drehfenstern an den Vordertüren und großen Radkappen)
    MB Typ 180 D
  • 81983
    Mercedes Benz Typ 180 a, 65 PS, Limousine, Bauzeit: 1957 bis 1959.
    Typ 180 a, W 120
  • 81993
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 180 a, 1958-1959 (Ausführung mit Drehfenstern an den Vordertüren und großen Radkappen)
    MB Typ 180 a
  • 84397
    "Ponton Mercedes" 190 D, 1958 - 1959
    MB Typ 190 D
  • 84398
    "Ponton Mercedes" 190 D, 1958 - 1959
    MB 190 D
  • 84399
    "Ponton Mercedes" 190 D, 1958 - 1959
    MB Typ 190 D
  • 84400
    Mercedes-Benz 190 D "Ponton-Mercedes", 1958 - 1959
    Mercedes-Benz 190 D
  • 71912A
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 190, 1956-1959, deutlich erkennbar die Unterschiede zum Typ 180
    Typ 190
  • 1998DIG39
    180 "Ponton Mercedes", 1953-57; brochure front cover from 1954 with a drawing by Hans Liska.
    "Ponton-Mercedes"
  • 1998DIG40
    180 "Ponton Mercedes", 1953-57
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 180
  • 1998DIG41
    180 D "Ponton Mercedes", 1954-59; brochure front cover from 1954. Drawing by Hans Liska.
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 180 D
  • 1998DIG42
    180 D "Ponton Mercedes", 1954-59; brochure front cover from 1954. Drawing by Hans Liska.
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 180 D
  • 1998DIG44
    "Ponton Mercedes" 190 D, 1958-59; cover page of the first brochure from 1958.
    "Ponton-Mercedes" Typ 190 D
  • 1998DIG217
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180 a Fahrgestell mit 2türiger Teilkarosserie
    180 a
  • 1998DIG271
    Mercedes-Benz Typ 180 der Baureihe 120. 
Fahrgestell für Sonderaufbauten der Fa. Hägele, 1955.
    Typ 180, W 120
  • 1998DIG272
    Mercedes-Benz Vierzylindertypen der Baureihe 120. Fahrgestell für Sonderaufbauten der Fa. Hägele, 1955.
    Vierzylindertypen, Baureihe 120
  • 59545
    Mercedes-Benz Limousinen
vorn der 180, dahinter 170 S-V (S-D), 1953 - 1957
    Mercedes-Benz 180, 170 S-V (S-D)
  • 74311
    Mercedes-Benz 180, 52 hp, sedan, built from 1953 to 1957
    Typ 180, W 120
  • 59306
    In August 1953, a new era dawns with the Mercedes-Benz 180. Its self-supporting construction marks the farewell to the traditional design of chassis and independent body. The “pontoon”-like shape is even considered modern and reduces air resistance and fuel consumption, making the type 180 symbolic of the innovative ability of Mercedes-Benz. Only the engine is taken from the 170 S.
    Mercedes-Benz 180
  • 74312
    Mercedes-Benz 180, 52 hp, sedan, built from 1953 to 1957
    Typ 180, W 120
  • 62175
    Mercedes-Benz 180 Limousine, 1953 - 1957
    Mercedes-Benz 180
  • 59403
    Mercedes Benz 180 Limousine, W 120
1953 - 1957
    Mercedes Benz 180
  • 59316
    Mercedes-Benz 180 / 180 D Limousine, 1953 - 1959
    Mercedes-Benz 180 / 180 D
  • 84027
    Mercedes Benz Type 180 a, 65 hp, sedan, production time: 1957 to 1959. Location: in front of the town hall of Heilbronn.
    Mercedes-Benz Type 180 a (W 120)
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