Motor City

30 July 2016

Previous Next

Lot 151

1960 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Cabriolet

  • Chassis no. 128.030.10.003512
  • Engine no. 127.983.10.000909

Sold for $165,000


134 bhp (SAE), 2,195 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with mechanical fuel-injected engine, four-speed column-shift manual transmission, independent front suspension with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs, rear single-joint swing axles with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

  • Most desirable and collectible four-passenger Mercedes-Benz of its period
  • Equally suitable on the show field, at gala events, and on long highway tours
  • Excellent condition; sparingly used since full restoration seven years ago
  • Stunning interior wood trim, gauges and controls, and leather upholstery


There are four words every classic Mercedes-Benz enthusiast should know: unibody, ponton, Einspritzmotor, and cabriolet. They describe the four major advances by the company during the mid-1950s, culminating in the production of this flagship automobile in 1960.

A one-piece chassis and body, designed with collapsible components for safety in collisions, replaced the previous body-on-chassis structure in 1953. Replacing the multiple-form body design, the ponton—German for “pontoon”—body had a single clean styling line from the headlamp along the front fender across the door panel and terminating at the taillight at the end of the rear fender. For additional power, on this W128 chassis, Mercedes engine developers replaced the earlier carbureted engine with the M127 gasoline injection engine—Einspritzmotor in German, and the “E” in “SE”—using a very early form of mechanical pump-driven system by Bosch to feed fuel into the six cylinders.

Representing the peak of this development period, the company produced a four-seat cabriolet—a body style with a canvas top that folded neatly under the tonneau cover—a style the company continues to use, but only on very special (the “S” in “SE”) models, to this day.

Of practical note, the cabriolet is the most desirable of the three body styles built on the W128 chassis, but the extensive production of coupes and sedans with identical mechanical components means that all parts necessary to maintain the car can be ordered out of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center catalog. Conversely, this example has all-rare original trim components unique to the cabriolet, including fascia trim, gauges, Becker radio and correct speaker panel, and head rests in excellent original condition. The rear bench seat was a correct option in place of the alternative luggage shelf, all the better for parade use.

This striking example benefitted from a full nut-and-bolt restoration seven years ago at a small independent shop (having previously restored a Pebble Beach entrant for the consignor) in the classic restoration region of Blenheim, Ontario. At the time, the original gray and red color/trim combination was replaced by this stunning and black with tan leather combination correct for the period and model. The cabriolet was subsequently shown with great appreciation at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in Michigan, and it was even driven without any mechanical or overheating issues on the Woodward Cruise. Trailered to all shows and events since its restoration, the car has accumulated only about 250 additional miles of the 15,598 miles shown on the odometer.

This lovely 220 SE could continue to be shown with pride in Mercedes-Benz Club of America concours events, or it could transition gracefully and reliably to a practical and comfortable vehicle for organized long-distance tours.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more