Daimler-Benz AG first presented the new six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 220, 220 S and 220 SE models in the fashionable fintail design at a press event on 11 August 1959. These were the first production passenger cars to feature safety bodies – having both a passenger cell with maximum stability (“rigid passenger compartment”) and front and rear crumple zones.
These were designed to significantly reduce the impact of a collision on passengers and thus the consequences of an accident. Designed by Daimler-Benz engineer Béla Barényi, this concept found widespread acceptance and became an industry-wide standard in safety technology. The safety body also helped protect other road users – a stated development goal at Mercedes-Benz – since it absorbed some of the impact energy that would otherwise be transmitted to those with less protection on the road.