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The Mercedes-Benz W111 was a chassis code given to its top-range vehicles, including 4-door sedans, produced from 1959 to 1968, and 2-door coupes and cabriolets from 1961 to 1971. The W111, was initially attributed only to 6-cylinder cars with 2.2 litre engines. The luxury version with big-block 3 litre engines were given the chassis code W112. The entry-level vehicles with 4 cylinder engines were called W110. All three versions W110, W111, and W112, in both 2 and 4 door bodies, were built on an identical chassis. Mercedes-Benz emerged from World War II as an automaker in the early 1950s with the expensive 300 Adenauers and the 300SL roadsters that gained it fame, but it was the simple unibody Pontons that were the volume models. However, in both their construction and design, the Pontons were archaic, based on 1940s models of U.S. sedans.Work on replacing these cars began in 1956, and the design focused on passenger comfort and safety. The basic Ponton cabin was widened and squared off, with larger glass area improving driver visibility. A milestone in car design were front and rear crumple zones that would absorb kinetic energy from impact. The automaker also patented retractable seatbelts. (The death toll in the new generation cars would be more than half of the pontons.The exterior was designed for the European and North American markets. The body was modern and featured a characteristic tailfins that gave gave the models their nickname — the fintail (German: Heckflosse).
Series production of the 4-door sedan began in August 1959, and the car was premiered at the Frankfurt Auto Show in autumn. Initially the series consisted of three models the 220b, 220Sb, and the 220SEb. These replaced the 219 W105, the 220S W180 and the 220SE W128 Ponton sedans respectively. Powering the three cars was an identical 2195 cc straight-6 engine, carried over from the previous generation, producing 95 hp (71 kW) at 4800 rpm, and capable of accelerating the heavy car to 160 km/h (155 if fitted with optional automatic gearbox). The engine of the 220Sb with twin carburettors, produced 110 hp (82 kW) at 5000 rpm and raised the top speed to 165 km/h (103 mph) (160 km/h (99 mph)) and improved the 0-100 km/h acceleration to 15 seconds (16 on the 220b). The top range 220SEb featured Bosch fuel injection producing 120 hp (89 kW) at 4800 rpm, with top speed of 172 km/h (107 mph) (168 km/h (104 mph) for auto) and a 0-100 km/h in 14 seconds.
In 1961, the fintail range was filled with three new models, a simplified 4-cylinder W110, an identical, but fitted with a big-block 3 litre engine W112, and a 2-door coupe/cabriolet of the W111/W112 (see below). Though never attributed as part of the fintail family, the Mercedes-Benz W113 Pagoda roadster was designed as an identical modernisation of the 190SL Ponton, and came about in 1963.
In summer 1965, production was terminated in launch of the new Mercedes-Benz W108 sedan. A total production of each was: 220b - 69,691, 220Sb - 161,119, and 220SEb - 65,886. Earlier in May, Mercedes-Benz gave its budget-range W110 cars a major facelift and in doing so opted to continue producing the W111 as a new model 230S. Previously the W110 was separate in terms of marketing and was classed as a 4 instead of 6-cylinder, 1965 turned that around. Despite their visual differences the cars were practically identical in terms of chassis and drivetrain. In 1965 the W110 was equipped with a six-cylinder engine, creating the model 230. The 230S, became a flagship model of the Mercedes mid-range cars (predecessors to today's E-class).
The 230S was visually identical to the 220S, with a modernised 2306 cm³ M180 engine with twin Zenith carburettors producing 120 horsepower (89 kW) at 5400 rpm. Top speed 176 km/h (109 mph) (174 km/h (108 mph) on auto), acceleration 13 seconds (15 on auto). In this final configuration a total of 41,107 cars were built through January 1968 when the last of 4-door fintails left the production line. Between 1959 and 1968 a total of 337,803 W111s were built.
Specifications. Body : length/width/height/wheelbase – cm (in) : 488/180/145/275 (191.9/70.7/56.9/108.3); weight : 1520 kg (3355 lb).
Engine. Front-mounted inline 6 cylinders 2996 cc (183 ci), automatic 4-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive. Maximum power : 169 bhp at5000 rpm; maximum torque : 251 Nm @ 3800 rpm. Top speed : 200 km/h (124 mph).