Back to the History of the Coupés and Convertibles

The Mercedes design and production cycle in the mid-1950s was such that there was barely time to note the sales response to a new range of models before beginning work on its eventual successor. So it was with the cars which were to replace the Coupés and convertibles of the later 1950s, the 220S and SE Coupés and Convertibles and the 300S 2 door models.

220S(E) Coupé (W128/W180)


220S(E) Convertible (W128/W180)


There was a wind of change blowing through the corridors in Stuttgart. Daimler-Benz management had already recognised that its range of models had become rather too complicated, and was looking at what are now called economies of scale by reducing the number of individual types in production while retaining and, ideally, expanding the client-base.

One particular problem was that there were too many low volume models in production; the Ponton Coupés, Convertibles and the seperate-chassis 300S Coupé and Roadster models which were even made in smaller numbers than the Ponton models were amoung these. The 300S models were hugely expensive machines that were built by hand and were affordable usually only by crowned heads of state, which inevitably limited the numbers which could be sold. they were also going to become due for replacement before long, having been in production since 1952.

300S Roadster (W188)


300S Coupé (W188)

So a new and ambitious plan was drawn up. Instead of replacing the two-door Pontons and the 300S models by two new ranges, Mercedes would design a single new range to replace both of them. It was a gamble - not least because those used to the exclusivity of a 300S might not take kindly to seeing its replacement as part of a range which included cheaper lookalike models - but sales figures show that the plan succeeded only to well.

The Ponton two doors sold an average of 1074 cars a year during their production life, while the 300S models averaged only 95 cars a year; together, these made for a yearly average of 1169 cars. The new 'combined' range which replaced them sold an average of 3748 cars a year during the fist seven years in production - well over three times as many..

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Next: 2) Design and development