The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

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Lot 130

1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S Cabriolet

  • Chassis no. 180.030.7511296
  • Engine no. 180.924.7500391

Sold for $148,500

120 hp, 2,195 cc OHC six-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission with Hydrak hydraulic clutch, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

  • Elegant open-air transportation
  • Unusual, factory-delivered black-on-black color scheme
  • Late-1957 model with desirable high-compression head and Hydrak clutch

The 220S debuted at Frankfurt in 1956 as the top of a new line of cars. It used the company’s envelope-style “ponton” body and shared a strong family resemblance to the sporty 190SL and mighty 300SL. Unlike those specialty two-seaters, however, the 220S was hand-built to carry passengers in luxury on a daily basis.

This highline model added new features from its type W180 predecessors, including a twin Solex carbureted, 2,195-cubic centimeter straight-six producing “more power than you need.” As of August 1957, that was 120 horsepower SAE for U.S.-spec models, with 8.7:1 compression. Additionally, Don Davis’ lovely Cabriolet was optioned with a Fichtel and Sachs Hydrak transmission, which also became available that August. This system retained a four-speed transmission but eliminated a clutch, using a vacuum servo and torque converter instead.

Mercedes built just 1,066 Cabriolets in 1957, accounting for only 6.5 percent of production. This Cabriolet was coachbuilt to impeccable standards, and cost 75% more than a comparable 220S Sedan, so befitting its station, it has trim and rear lamps that echo the 300 series, as well as unique sheet metal that looks good with the fully collapsible roof either up or down.

A history file extending back almost 50 years accompanies this car, documenting a lifetime of careful maintenance and infrequent changes of ownership. The original factory build card indicates that this car was optioned in black with a black top, where Cabriolets were almost always in contrasting colors.

As appealing as this Mercedes-Benz is mechanically, it is the complete package of styling, drivetrain, and interior fitments, which makes the 220S the standard by which all other six-cylinder European cars of the fifties are judged. As long as people continue to have the need to cover long distances in style, speed, and comfort, a 220S Cabriolet will have a home.

Titled as 1958.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more