Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A
The Mercedes-Benz company started building cars again right after the war in 1946. Since development had halted during the war, they resumed production on prewar designs. As an Austrian expatriate who had taken up residence in New York in the 1930s, Max Hoffman was crucial to the company’s postwar success and built an enterprise around importing and distributing European cars in the U.S. Immediately after the Second World War, Hoffman became the U.S. Mercedes-Benz distributor and continued to represent the company until its ill-fated alliance with Studebaker-Packard in 1956.
The first postwar Mercedes was the 170 series, rushed into production using what little prewar tooling could be found. It was powered by an anemic 38 hp, 1,697 cc side valve four-cylinder engine better suited to agricultural machinery than an automobile bearing the Mercedes star.
The situation wasn’t allowed to persist for long. In 1951, Mercedes released two new models that were everything but the economical, plain versions they were replacing. The cars, which were first shown at Frankfurt, were the 220 and 300, both of which came in several configurations, including a convertible. The 220, in particular, received a single overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine displacing 2,195 cc and giving 80 hp. This competent motor car was clothed in attractive bodies from Mercedes’ own coachworks and was built and trimmed in a fashion more appropriate to the company’s tradition using luxury appointments like varnished wood and leather.
Aided by Hoffman’s promotion and distribution, the 220 was quickly accepted. Just over 18,000 were built during the model’s production run from 1951 to 1955. Most were closed sedans, however, about 2,300 were endowed with more luxurious and attractive open coachwork, of which the blind rear quarter two- to three-seat Cabriolet is generally considered the most attractive and desirable. In fact, only about 1,200 of these Cabriolet As were built in the model’s production run.
In contrast to the four-passenger Cabriolet B, the 220 Cabriolet A is a two-passenger convertible with a jump seat in the rear and only one side window. The padded soft-top is adorned with chromed landau bars. The car benefited from the company’s well-engineered independent front and rear suspension. The 220 is one of the last models by Mercedes-Benz to be built with a wood body frame, and the Cabriolet A interiors were also trimmed more elaborately than other 220s. Very close attention to detail was paid in the interior, with the dash fascia covered in the same leather as the seats. The top of the dash was wood, with the same wood on the window sills. Different woods were chosen to best complement the leather surfaces. A short, cut-pile, Wilton wool carpet covered the risers, kick panels and rear floor.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.
80 bhp, 2,195 cc overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed synchromesh transmission, four wheel independent suspension, and power assisted four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 112"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel