“1964 Mercedes 220, gasoline straight-6 cylinder, twin carbs, 4-speed column shifter. The car looks and runs well, but is testing slightly below emissions requirements. Contact Susan at 778-828-8993.”
In 1964, if you were a wealthy young man, you lusted after the likes of Ford’s Mustang or Ferrari’s GTO. If you were a wealthy old man, you probably found yourself looking for a Rolls Royce or Bentley. And if you were a wealthy despot, it would be a Mercedes sedan that filled your dreams. Big, comfy, understated, and yet gloriously luxurious in top trim, they were the perfect car for the discerning dictator. Spanning a price range that brought their sedan line from basic, but solidly built runabouts all the way up to super-luxury limos, Mercedes offered three different chassis codes in the mid-sixties, with the popular WIII code indicating those two- and four-door chassis fitted with the venerable 2.2 litre six cylinder (W110 indicates four cylinder-powered cars, while W112s received the 3.0L inline six).
This specific car, a W111 220Sb, represents the middle of the W111 lineup. Thanks to the dual carburettors, it boasted 15 more horsepower than the base 220b, bringing the total to 110, but still rallied 10 horsepower less under the hood than the rare Bosch fuel injection-equipped 220SEb. Good for a top speed of 103 miles per hour, it was no slouch out on the Autobahn, but it’s considerable mass and long gearing conspired against it under acceleration, and the 220Sb struggled with a lethargic 15-second 0-60 time. However, when you’re in the interior of a car like this, replete with possibly the most interesting gauge arrangement ever, you may appreciate the slower pace the big Benz requires. And as the most popular of the W111s, the 220Sb is a relatively common collector’s vehicle, and still boasts a pretty staunch enthusiast base. However, that doesn’t make it the easiest vehicle to own, with parts prices and availability requiring both a serious level of commitment to source and purchase. But, this is a unique vehicle offered at a great price, and given their continued rarity, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re on the cusp of becoming very, very desirable automobiles indeed. And although it may be testing slightly below Aircare requirements, the popularity and robustness of the 2.2L six cylinder ensures that any mechanical issues should be easily rectified. And hey, who knows how much longer we’ll even have Aircare for, anyway!