|Body and chassis|
|Class||Executive car (E)|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Related||Mercedes-Benz W105 — 219|
Mercedes-Benz W180 — 220a/S
Mercedes-Benz W128 — 220SE
|Wheelbase||265 cm (104.3 in)|
|Length||180: 446 cm (175.6 in)|
180 a / 190: 448.5 cm (176.6 in)
180 b/c, 190 b: 450 cm (177.2 in)
|Width||174 cm (68.5 in)|
|Height||156 cm (61.4 in)|
|Curb weight||1,150 kg (2,540 lb)—1,220 kg (2,690 lb)|
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
|Model||Chassis code||Years||Type||Engine||Number built|
|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|
|W120.110||1953–1959||180D||1.8 L OM 636 Diesel I4||116,485|
|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.
- An Australian Mercedes-Benz? - www.mbspares.com.au Retrieved on 31 October 2012
- Morelli-Bertier (1998-12-17). "Raisonnable passion" [Rational passion]. Rétro Hebdo (in French). Paris, France (89): 30.
- 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.
- http://www.mbzponton.org//valueadded/other/radiator/shell.htm Mercedes-Benz Ponton Radiator Grille Shell Evolution
- Daimler AG (ed.): 180 D / W 120 D I, 1954 - 1959, in Mercedes-Benz Public Archive, retrieved 8 January 2021
- according to: Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.5. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02131-5, p. 32.
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