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Mercedes-Benz W120/W121

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mercedes-Benz W120/W121
Mercedes 180 2 v sst.jpg
Mercedes-Benz 180b (W120)
442,963 built
Body and chassis
ClassExecutive car (E)
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
RelatedMercedes-Benz W105219
Mercedes-Benz W180220a/S
Mercedes-Benz W128220SE
Wheelbase265 cm (104.3 in)
Length180: 446 cm (175.6 in)
180 a / 190: 448.5 cm (176.6 in)
180 b/c, 190 b: 450 cm (177.2 in)
Width174 cm (68.5 in)
Height156 cm (61.4 in)
Curb weight1,150 kg (2,540 lb)—1,220 kg (2,690 lb)
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W136
Mercedes-Benz W191
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W110

The Mercedes-Benz W 120 and Mercedes-Benz W 121 are technically similar inline-four cylinder sedans made by Daimler-Benz. The W 120 was first introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 1953. Powered initially by the company's existing 1.8 liter M 136 engine, it was sold as the Mercedes-Benz 180 through 1962. From 1954, Mercedes-Benz also offered the W 120 with a diesel engine as the Mercedes-Benz 180 D. The Mercedes-Benz W 121 was introduced as the Mercedes-Benz 190 in 1956, powered by a 1.9 liter M 121 engine. From 1958, the W 121 was also offered with an OM 621 engine, sold as the Mercedes-Benz 190 D through 1961.

The W 120 was nicknamed the Ponton (along with other Mercedes models) after its introduction, because it employed Ponton, or pontoon styling, a prominent styling trend that unified a car's previously articulated hood, body, fenders and running boards into a singular envelope.

Together with the more luxurious and somewhat larger 2.2 liter inline-six cylinder W 128 220 they constituted 80% of Mercedes-Benz' car production between 1953 and 1959.[2]

The W 120 was the first predecessor to the medium size Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan line.[citation needed]


The 180-190 and W 128/W 180 220-220S 'Ponton' models looked very similar in appearance from the windscreen back to the six-cylinder somewhat longer 220s-220S-220SE models. From behind, one could not easily differentiate even the top of the line 220SE (E for Einspritzung, or fuel injection) from a 180, but the longer bonnet (and wheelbase) and chrome touches identified it as an upscale, six-cylinder model.

The 1951 to 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 W186 Adenauer company flagship used a much larger frame and body, and was an entirely different car.

The 180-190 four-cylinders were widely used as German taxis. Only these shorter Pontons featured low-wattage parking clearance lights at front bumper top rear. A simple left-right toggle above and to the left of the driver's knee selected which side would illuminate, so as not to needlessly run down the battery in winter, no small concern when restarting diesels. Heater air intakes were on both sides of the radiator grille only on the 120/121.

The form and body of the car changed little during its production run. However, in 1957, a year after the introduction of the 190 saloon, the 180's 56 PS (41 kW; 55 hp) M 136 engine, which had originally been designed for the Mercedes-Benz 170 Sb, was replaced with a downtuned version of the 190's M 121. The same year, the Mercedes star atop the faux external radiator cap was made spring-loaded to give when bumped: reports at the time indicated that this was either to pander to the requirements of certain export markets, notably Switzerland, or to reduce the risk of pedestrian injury in the event of an accident.[3] By 1959, the star was spring-retained on a ball base.

A related roadster variant, the R121, better known as the 190SL, was produced from 1955 to 1963.

At the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show, in time for the 1960 US model year, a slightly wider grille and slimmer taillights were introduced.[4] The same wider grille was carried forward to the car's (in other respects) more flamboyantly styled successors, when the Pontons were replaced by the W110 "Fintail" models during 1961.

Technical description

The W 120 and W 121 have a column-mounted shift lever
The W 120 and W 121 have a column-mounted shift lever
Mercedes-Benz 180 (W120)
Mercedes-Benz 180 (W120)
OM 636.930 Diesel engine in a 180 D
OM 636.930 Diesel engine in a 180 D
For the 1960 model year the car received a wider grille
For the 1960 model year the car received a wider grille

The Mercedes-Benz W 120 and W 121 are four-door saloons with a longitudinal front engine, and rear-wheel drive. Rolling chassis with either two or four doors were also available from the factory. The cars have a self-supporting body, the so-called "Ponton" body. The wheelbase measures 2650 mm, which is slightly less than the larger "Ponton" saloons' 2750 mm. In front, the W 120 and W 121 have independent double-wishbone suspension, in rear, they have either a double-joint swing axle (until September 1955), or a single-joint swing axle (from September 1955). Both front and rear wheels are coil-sprung; the front axle is fitted with a torsion-type anti-sway bar, and the rear wheels have additional hydraulic shock absorbers. Daimler-Benz installed a recirculating ball steering system and a hydraulic drum braking system in the 120- and 121-series.[5]

Mercedes-Benz built the W 120 with all of their then-present four-cylinder engines: the M 136 and M 121 Otto (spark ignition) engines, and the OM 636 and OM 621 Diesel (compression ignition) engines, with most W 120 and W 121 cars powered by either of the Diesel engines. The torque is sent from the engine to the rear wheels through a dry single-disc clutch and a synchronised, four-speed constant-mesh gearbox. The shift lever is a rather small lever mounted on the steering column.[5]


Model Chassis code Years Type Engine Number built[6]
W120 sedan W120.010 1953–1957 180 1.8 L M 136 Otto I4 52,186
1957–1959 180a 1.9 L M 121 Otto I4 27,353
1959–1961 180b 29,415
1961–1962 180c 9,280
W120.110 1953–1959 180D 1.8 L OM 636 Diesel I4 116,485
1959–1961 180Db 24,676
1961–1962 180Dc 1.8 L OM 621 Diesel I4 11,822
W121 sedan W121.010 1956–1959 190 1.9 L M 121 Otto I4 61,345
1959–1961 190b 1.9 L M 121 Otto I4 28,463
W121.110 1958–1959 190D 1.9 L OM 621 Diesel I4 20,629
1959–1961 190Db 1.9 L OM 621 Diesel I4 61,309


  • "Mercedes 180-D". Road & Track (1959 Road Test Annual): 81–83.
  1. ^ An Australian Mercedes-Benz? - Retrieved on 31 October 2012
  2. ^ Morelli-Bertier (1998-12-17). "Raisonnable passion" [Rational passion]. Rétro Hebdo (in French). Paris, France (89): 30.
  3. ^ Simoneit, Ferdinand, ed. (1977). Vor 20 Jahren: Auto Motor u. Sport in Heft 23 und 24 / 1957 [20 years ago: AMS in issues 23 and 24, 1957]. Auto Motor und Sport (in German). Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlag GmbH & Co KG. p. 6.
  4. ^ Mercedes-Benz Ponton Radiator Grille Shell Evolution
  5. ^ a b Daimler AG (ed.): 180 D / W 120 D I, 1954 - 1959, in Mercedes-Benz Public Archive, retrieved 8 January 2021
  6. ^ according to: Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.5. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02131-5, p. 32.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 May 2021, at 03:24
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