(Found In) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1963 Mercedes Benz 220SE Hardtop Coupe

image-41The incremental ways Mercedes Benz crept into the American Automotive market is a peculiar story of persistence and perfection. Although their offerings weren’t completely perfectly well baked for American Motoring demands, they did offer peerless posts to take in vast new landscapes in a completely foreign experience to what was determined to be American Luxury.

Meanwhile, traits, trends and trappings not unfamiliar to American motorists made these cars international stars in their own right. Once upon a time, the world over loved the personal fantasy of the Hardtop Coupe, not the carry all capabilities of a Crossover/Utility Vehicle. By securing a few halo spots, Mercedes made due and dough with their Fintail=related Coupes.

image-42As noted before, the perfection process for these models started in the Mid 1950’s. Arriving slightly behind the Sedans, the 220 SE Coupes and Cabriolets brought the idea of the European Holiday to the American Interstate. Warm leather interiors with lavish wood details may have reminded potential buyers of European Castles and Chalets more than American Country Clubs.

How better to flaunt one’s escalating, accumulating wealth? It was easier to do so in the old world furnishings of a European pedigree than the designer knock offs that Cadillac in particular, but Imperial and Lincoln were becoming. Too close for comfort to a Ninety Eight or a New Yorker, there were few unique and well supported foreign rivals like Mercedes.

image-44While the workday Heckflosse Sedans did most of the business at home and abroad, serving severe taxi duty to upper middle class grocery store runs, like all Hardtop Coupes of eras gone by, the W111/112 Coupes were purchased by owners with far more leisure opportunities in life.

They would have to have more time for leisure as well, as performance from the 2.2 Liter Inline Six was pretty high strung and not exactly exuberant. The pillarless hardtop body style also meant more reinforced weight for the 120 horsepower engine to carry around compared to the more conservative sedans.

image-4560 came in 15 seconds for manual transmission versions like our subject, most likely directly imported from Germany example here, a good gallop behind a Coupe DeVille or Riviera for more money. Having all the time in the world does reflect a certain level of wealth however.

220 SE owners were more likely to take a Boat to exotic destinations than Jet-Setting first class to such locales. The debonair duality of prestige and patience paid off as Benz added more brawn to their various models.

image-43From 150 horse 250 Series versions, to a variety of strength 280 versions, these have become one of many beloved vintage Mercedes Benz rides that still command quite a pretty penny over their Sedan Siblings.

In the magic and mystery that comes from image crafting, Mercedes Benz played a long game that still keeps a certain mystique, whether deserved or not, on their products currently in production and becoming preferred classics.

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2 comments

  1. -Nate · October 7

    Sweet .

    These all had fairly serious floor pan rusting issues caused by leaky windshield grommets allowing water to leak in and settle under the rubber floor mats .

    Great driving cars ! .

    -Nate

    Like

  2. Paul · November 25

    What else would a tasteful person drive? Not being that tasteful myself, I think I’d still keep a Cadillac, Riveria or Tornado as well. I love reading this site. I genuinely wish the author, a gifted belletrist and photographer, all the best.
    Regarding mechanical/structural issues, I’m sure that Nat is correct. But don’t write the old girls off in this area. As a long time owner of one, I find them pretty good. Mind you, I do play it a bit safe myself and ride my bicycle to work!

    Like

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