Mercedes-Benz W111

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Mercedes-Benz W111
Mercedes-Benz W111 Ilmenau.jpg
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Production Sedan: 1959–1968
Coupe: 1961–1971
370,807 built
Assembly Stuttgart, Germany
Port Melbourne, Australia [1]
Designer Friedrich Geiger
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car (F)
Body style 4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Related Mercedes-Benz W110
Mercedes-Benz W112
Mercedes-Benz W113
Engine 2,195 cc (2.2 L) M127 I6
2,306 cc (2.3 L) M180 I6
2,496 cc (2.5 L) M129 I6
2,778 cc (2.8 L) M130 I6
3,499 cc (3.5 L) M116 V8
Predecessor Mercedes-Benz Ponton
Successor Mercedes-Benz W108
Mercedes-Benz C107
See Mercedes-Benz S-Class for a complete overview of all S-Class models.

The Mercedes-Benz W111 was a chassis code given to a range of Mercedes' vehicles produced between 1959 and 1971, including 4-door sedans (1959-1968) and 2-door coupes and cabriolets (1961 to 1971).

Introduced as inline 6-cylinder cars with 2.2-litre engines, the W111 spawned two lines of variants: entry-level vehicles sharing its chassis and bodies but 4-cylinder engines were designated the W110. A luxury version built on the W111 chassis with its body and the fuel-injected 3-litre M189 6-cylinder engine was designated the W112.

Design History[edit]

Mercedes-Benz 220b

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 on replacing these cars began in 1956 with a design focused on passenger comfort and safety. The basic Ponton cabin was widened and squared off, with a large glass greenhouse improving driver visibility. A milestone in car design were front and rear crumple zones for absorbing kinetic energy on impact. The automaker also patented retractable seatbelts.

The exterior was designed for the European and North American markets. The body was modern and featured characteristic tailfins that gave the models their nickname — the fintail (German: Heckflosse).

Production history[edit]

The sedan[edit]

Series production of the 4-door sedan began in August 1959, which made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in autumn. Initially the series consisted of the 220b, 220Sb, and 220SEb. These replaced the 219 W105, the 220S W180 and the 220SE W128 Ponton sedans respectively. The 220b was an entry-level version with little chrome trim, simple hubcaps, and basic interior trim that lacked pockets on doors. Prices were DM16,750, 18,500 and 20,500, with a rough sales ratio of 1:2:1.

All modes shared the 2195 cc straight-six engine carried over from the previous generation, producing 95 hp (71 kW) at 4800 rpm and capable of accelerating the heavy car to 160 km/h (155 if fitted with optional automatic gearbox). The 220Sb featured twin carburettors and produced 110 hp (82 kW) at 5000 rpm, raising top speed to 165 km/h (103 mph) (160 km/h (99 mph)) and improving 0–100 km/h acceleration to 15 seconds (16 on the 220b). The top range 220SEb featured Bosch fuel injection producing 120 hp (89 kW) at 4800 rpm, with top speed of 172 km/h (107 mph) (168 km/h (104 mph) for auto) and a 0–100 km/h in 14 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz 220Sb

In 1961, the W111 chassis and body were shared with the even more basic 4-cylinder W110 and a luxury version built on the W111 chassis with its body and the 3-litre M189 big block 6-cylinder engine, many standard power features, and a high level of interior and exterior trim, was designated the W112.

A 2-door coupe/cabriolet version of the W111/W112 was also produced.

Mercedes-Benz 220Sb

In summer 1965, the new Mercedes-Benz W108 sedan was launched and production of the first generation of W111's was ended. Totals were: 220b - 69,691, 220Sb - 161,119, and 220SEb - 65,886.

Earlier in May, Mercedes-Benz gave its budget-range W110 series a major facelift, opting to continue producing the W111 as a new model 230S. The previously 4-cylinder W110 received a 6-cylinder, practically identical in terms of chassis and drivetrain. In 1965 the W110 was equipped with a six-cylinder engine, creating the model 230. The 230S, became a flagship model of the Mercedes passenger cars (predecessors to today's S-class).

The 230S was visually identical to the 220S, with a modernised 2306 cm3 M180 engine with twin Zenith carburettors producing 120 horsepower (89 kW) at 5400 rpm. Top speed 176 km/h (109 mph) (174 km/h (108 mph) on auto), acceleration 13 seconds (15 on auto). In this final configuration a total of 41,107 cars were built through January 1968, when the last of 4-door fintails left the production line. Between 1959 and 1968 a total of 337,803 W111s were built.

The two-door[edit]

Mercedes-Benz 280SE Coupe (US)
The fintails were almost gone on two-door versions

Design of a replacement for the two-door Pontons began in 1957, as most of the chassis and drivetrain were to be unified with the sedan, the scope was focused on the exterior styling. Some of the mockups and prototypes show that Mercedes-Benz attempted to give the two-door car a front styling almost identical to what would be realised in the Pagoda roadster, but ultimately favoured the work of engineer Paul Bracq. The rear bodywork however, persisted, and thus, though officially still called a fintail the rear end design had no chrome fin highlights.

Production began in late 1960, and in February of the next year the coupe was premiered in Stuttgart for the 75th anniversary of the opening of Mercedes-Benz Museum. The convertible followed at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months later; the car was almost identical to the coupe, with the soft-top roof folded into a recess behind the rear seat and covered by a tightly fitting leather "boot" in the same color as the seats. Unlike the previous generation of two-door ponton series, there was only one model for the 2-door vehicle, the 220SE on both versions, with the identical M127 2195 cc engine. Prices in 1962 were 32,500 for the coupe and 36,000 NLG for the cabriolet. Options included a sliding sunroof for the coupe, automatic transmission, power steering, and individual rear seats.

Mercedes-Benz 220SE Cabriolet

In March 1962, Mercedes-Benz released the almost identical two-door 300SE. However, due to marketing reasons, this car, like its sedan stablemate, was kept apart from the 220SE, and had its own chassis number W112, which envisioned it as a successor to the W187 300S two-door series, rather than the Ponton range. The car was featured with a chrome strip, air suspension and Daimler's top-range 2996 cm3 M189 engine. For prices of 45,000 and 48,500 for the hard and soft roofs respectively, this vehicle remained split from the rest of the W111 family.

In summer of 1965 Mercedes-Benz launched its new replacements for both W111 and W112 sedans, the W108 and W109 respectively. In an ironic twist of fate, this car's design was based on the "fintail" W111 coupe, but widened and squared off, as the fintail fashion was quickly eroding by the mid 1960s. Design work on a future new chassis that would fully replace the Ponton-derivatives which both W111/W112 and W108/W109 were, was well under way (the concept car of the first S-Class was shown in 1967). Given these two facts, Daimler did not develop a W108/W109 two-door vehicle at all and continued production of the W111/W112. However both models were modernised; the 220SE was superseded in early autumn by the 250SE which featured the new 2496 cm3 M129 engine, producing 150 horsepower (110 kW) at 5500 rpm, which gave it a significant improvement in top speed, 193 km/h (120 mph) (188 km/h (117 mph) on auto), and 0–100 km/h acceleration 12 seconds (14 on auto). Visibly the changes only affected the new 14-inch rims with new hub cabs and beauty rings; this was to accommodate the larger disk brakes and the new rear axle from the W108 family.

In November 1967, the 250 SE was superseded by the new 280 SE. The new M130 engine had 2778 cubic centimetres volume, and output 160 hp (120 kW) at 5500 rpm. Top speed was hardly affected, the acceleration though improved to 10.5 seconds (13 on auto). Inside the car received a wood veneer option on the dashboard and other minor changes including door lock buttons and different heater levers. The hubcaps were changed yet again to a new one piece design and the design of the exterior mirror changed. The 300 SE, based on the early 1950s M189, was also retired. The modern 280 SE could outperform the 300 SE despite the smaller engine.

Mercedes-Benz upgraded the W111, some feature a V8 engine

The coupe and cabriolet was back to a single model until its replacement, the new-generation chassis in 1968.

The 280 SE 3.5[edit]

A final model was added in August 1969, the 280 SE 3.5. The car was fitted with the brand-new M116 3499 cc V8 engine with 200 hp (150 kW) at 5800 rpm, a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph) (205 km/h (127 mph) with automatic transmission) and a 0-100 at 9.5 seconds (11.5 for the auto). To accommodate the large engine, the car's front grille was widened and front and rear bumpers were modified with the addition of rubber strips. The rear lenses changed to a flatter cleaner design. This change was carried across the standard 280 SE. Some view this car as an ideological successor to the W112 300 SE, though it lacked the air suspension of the W112.

Mercedes-Benz 280SE Coupe

There were plans to place the larger M117 V8 engine in the W111 (the model would have been called 280 SE 4.5).

The last 280 SE was produced in January 1971, with the 280 SE 3.5 ending in July. The total production over the decade was: 220 SEb - 16,902, 250 SE - 6,213, 280 SE - 5,187, and 280 SE 3.5 - 4,502 units. Not including 3,127 W112 300 SE models, the grand total of 2-door W111 models was 32,804 of which 7,456 were convertibles.

The replacement for the 2-doors models was the C107 SLC, focusing on compact sportiness. Moreover, for nearly two-decades the four-seater convertible would disappear from Mercedes-Benz's lineup altogether (only in 1992 did Daimler launch the A124).


Model Years Chassis code Engine Displacement Power Built
      [cc] [PS] / [kW]  
220 Sedan 8/59–8/65 111.010 M180.940 / R 6 2195 95 / 70 69691
220 S Sedan 8/59–8/65 111.012 M180.941 / R 6 2195 105/110 // 77/81 161119
220 SE Sedan 8/59–8/65 111.014 M127.982 / R 6 2195 120 / 88 66086
220 SE Coupé 2/61–10/65 111.021 M127.984 / R 6 2195 120 / 88 14173
220 SE Cabriolet 9/61–10/65 111.023 M127.984 / R 6 2195 120 / 88 2729
230 S Sedan 7/65–1/68 111.010 M180.947 / 951 / R 6 2295 120 / 88 41107
250 SE Coupé 9/65–12/67 111.021 M129.980 / 981 / R 6 2496 150 / 110 5259
250 SE Cabriolet 9/65–12/67 111.023 M129.980 / 984 / R 6 2496 150 / 110 954
280 SE Coupé 11/67–5/71 111.024 M130.980 / 984 / R 6 2778 160 / 118 3797
280 SE Cabriolet 11/67–5/71 111.025 M130.980 / 984 / R 6 2778 160 / 118 1390
280 SE 3.5 Coupé 11/69–7/71 111.026 M116.980 / 990 / V 8 3499 200 / 147 3270
280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet 11/69–7/71 111.027 M116.980 / 990 / V 8 3499 200 / 147 1232[2][3]

Model timeline[edit]

Chassis Type 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971
W111 Sedan 220
280SE 3.5


  1. ^ An Australian Mercedes-Benz? - Retrieved on 1 November 2012
  2. ^ Anderson, Gary (April 2014). "1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet". Sports Car Market. 26 (4): 76. 
  3. ^ Mercedes-Benz Classic "W 111 / W 112 convertibles", retrieved on 29 August 2014

External links[edit]

Media related to Mercedes-Benz W111C at Wikimedia Commons