Mercedes-Benz Ponton

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Mercedes-Benz Ponton
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Production 1953–1963
Designer Fritz Nallinger
Body and chassis
  • Mid-size luxury car
  • Mid-size sports Car
Body style
Layout FR layout
Mercedes-Benz W120 180b "Ponton" sedan

The Ponton was Daimler-Benz's first totally new Mercedes-Benz series of passenger vehicles produced after World War II. In July 1953, the cars replaced the pre-war-designed Type 170 series and were the bulk of the automaker's production through 1959, though some models lasted through 1962.

The nickname comes from the German word for "pontoon" and refers to one definition of pontoon fenders — and a postwar styling trend, subsequently called ponton styling.

The Ponton models were replaced by the "Heckflosse" or "Fintail" models

There were essentially four types of Ponton cars. Note the "D" designates a diesel engine, and the suffix "b" and/or "c" are body variants introduced after the middle of 1959.

Design history[edit]

Mercedes-Benz emerged from World War II as an automaker in the early 1950s with the expensive 300 Adenauers and the exclusive 300SL grand tourers that gained it fame, but it was the simple unibody Pontons comprised the bulk of the company's revenues. Work began in earnest on the Ponton cars in 1951 with a design focused on passenger comfort and safety. Their as an urgency to replace the dated pre war designed W136 Type 170. Head of the design team was Dr. Fritz Nallinger. Styling was headed by Karl Wilfert. Daimler-Benz incorporated into the design criteria a unitary body frame body, based on the "three-box design". Part of the design team was Béla Barényi. Barényi designed the concept of the crumple zone, and the non-deformable passenger cell into the design. The crumple zones patent 854157, granted in 1952, describes the decisive feature of passive safety. Barényi questioned the opinion prevailing until then, that a safe car had to be rigid. He divided the car body into three sections: the rigid non-deforming passenger compartment and the crumple zones during collision. This design concept was proven by ADAC crash test facility in June, 2010 when a Mercedes Ponton was crash tested in their Technical Centre in Landsberg am Lech, confirming the existence of the design incorporated into the vehicle. This made for a milestone in car design with front and rear crumple zones for absorbing kinetic energy on impact.

Model Timeline[edit]

Model 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963
180 W120 M136
180a W120 M121
180b W120 M121
180c W120 M121
180D W120 OM636
180Db W120 OM636
180Dc W120 OM621
190 W121 M121
190b W121 M121
190Db W121 OM621
190SL W121 M121




219 W105 M180
220a W180 M180


W180 M180


W128 M127


W180 M180


W128 M127

References and sources[edit]

  • Alexander Franc Storz: Mercedes-Benz Ponton – vom 180 Diesel bis zum 220 SE Cabriolet 1953 – 1962 ; eine Dokumentation. 1. Auflage, Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-613-03343-6 (Schrader-Typen-Chronik)
  • "Mercedes-Benz Pontons (1953–1962)". Retrieved November 30, 2005. 

External links[edit]