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1953 Mercedes 180 (W 120)

Indeed, the old 170 is still sold, but its prewar construction is outdated. In the meantime, the war destructions are repaired in the factory to such a degree that, after the new designing of the 300, it is time for the bigger series now. There is a totally new outline for a car, which makes much better use of the space in the interior. The design is named 'pontoon form'; its fenders are integrated into the front and the car rather resembles a rectangular box. It is typical for almost all constructions after the Second World War.

By the same token Mercedes ceases the division between chassis and bodywork, known also from the 170. Now there is a partially self-supporting construction, which helps in making the car substantially lighter. Nevertheless, leftovers of the old frame still remain under the car, but now welded together with the construction. Now, it only adds partly to the stability, likewise for the roof. The strengthened rocker panels are more than before supposed to add to the stiffness of the whole car.

There is a new sub frame manufactured from two sheet steel halves, welded together, for the complete drive. The sub frame is silenced against the body by one rubber mounting in front and two rubber mountings in the rear, providing for good damping and easy disassembling. In spite of the partially self-supporting car body, it has clearly more glass surfaces. Looked at completely from the front bottom, the differences with the old 170 are quite limited. But from all other angles clear differences can be revealed.

There is clearly more interior space and much more boot space, which is just limited by one and later two possible, vertical spare tyres. The feeling or emotion caused by the full noise with which the doors close becomes slowly its trademark. This applies particularly to the safety locks introduced in the course of the series with which a rounded off cone reaches in a ring and also holds if the door is shifted, e.g., in the case of an accident. Almost as proverbially becomes the metal sheet of this vehicle series due to its longevity, a feature that is not shared by all its successors.

Although the widespread safety thinking starts only with the direct successor model, this Mercedes already features besides its stability a windscreen from laminated glass. Thus, the risk of hurting anybody due to the rupture of the glass is almost not present. For comfort, the wind noises are reduced, and the upholstery is comfortable, but not too softy, and there are separate heating regulations for both sides. The dash board (picture 2) vanishes after this model, being unpretentious, but nevertheless noble in shape. How seldom the driver makes use of the turn signal at that time indicates its positioning. The driver has to turn the horn ring in the steering wheel into the direction that should be indicated. You might throw an even more precise look at the instrument cluster.

While exhibiting such a high degree of modernity in the car body, other areas stick with established parts. The 180 starts off with the slightly modified engine of the 170. It is still equipped with side valves and a simpler crank shaft bearing. Because of the lower air resistance the road performances improve somewhat. In 1957 two steps ahead are carried out at the same time. With the takeover of the 190 SL-drive, not only the valves move into the cylinder head, but the camshaft as well. Indeed, the two dual carburetors and the sharper valve timing are exclusive to the SL, not necessarily a disadvantage for the power of passing through.

The diesel engine is important for successful sales figures. (See the data completely below). It is available only half a year after the start of the series in its modernized form. Actually, the engine exists since 1936 in its third generation, which calls for negative feelings even today with some people. These people especially remember the cold starting of this engine; it remains in their ears and noses. Indeed, the 180 manages to dampen the oscillations originating from the engine quiet well with its special engine bearing. Yet, this engine established also a positive image: that of a long-lasting and humble draught horse. No difference in the torque with low revs, but little upwards possibilities. Presumably, quite a few Diesel buyers purchase this Mercedes, even if they cannot really afford it. Amongst them are the taxi companies. One should not forget that there are few competitors in this class, Germans even less.

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