Enter the small “Tailfin:” 110 series (1961 to 1968)
- The “Universal” variant is forerunner of the station wagon
- A special long-wheelbase version provides seating for eight
- Mercedes-Benz launches its “tailfin” with six-cylinder engine in 1959
For the luxury class of Mercedes-Benz, the tailfin age had already dawned in 1959 with the 220, 220 S and 220 SE models of the 111 series. This new body shape with its cheeky take on the tailfin motif of American car designs, also conquered the intermediate class in August 1961. At first Mercedes-Benz offered two four-cylinder models, the 190 and 190 D of the 110 series. They superseded the “Ponton” models with the same designations.
The modular principle of the shared body was applied with particular thoroughness by Mercedes-Benz in the small and large versions of the tailfin era: The difference in wheelbase – 17 centimetres in the “Ponton” –was now reduced to all of five centimetres (2.70 metres in the W 110 and 2.75 metres in the W 111). Upper mid-range and luxury class vehicles were distinguished by the look of their front ends. From the windscreen to the rear end, however, both model series shared a body in which mainly trim elements made for differences. Along with this largely identical body, the two model series were linked by their common suspension.
The advantages of the shared body to Mercedes-Benz were mainly of an economic nature, because it permitted cost reduction for development, production and stocking of spare parts. Moreover, owing to the largely identical body, the driver of an intermediate class model could appreciate the full benefits of the spaciousness of the interior and boot. But an even stronger assimilation between the two model series also involved drawbacks: On the one hand, the four-cylinder models were 23 centimetres longer overall than the predecessor models, despite the fact that parking space was already getting scarce and called for more compact mid-size cars. On the other, many a luxury class customer wished for greater distance from the models of the smaller series.
But on closer inspection it really was not possible to confuse the two model series: conspicuous features of the 190 included round headlamps, a shorter front end, and direction indicators that had been adopted from the “Ponton” models and which sat on the ends of the front and rear wings. Connoisseurs also immediately noticed the disappearance of familiar items from the six-cylinders, such as the breathers in the C-pillars, including the trim elements that accompanied them, and the chrome corners above the front bumper.
The engineering of the new 190 model also borrowed heavily from the 220: the front and rear suspension and the brake system were adopted unchanged from the big brother. The frame-floor system also came from the six-cylinder models and was adjusted to the shorter front end of the four-cylinder and its shorter wheelbase. And together with the 220 the 190 and 190 D got a dual-circuit brake system with brake booster and front disc brakes in August 1963.
Two-litre diesel in the 190 D
The new diesel model 190 D actually should have been called the 200 D. Its OM 621 III prechamber engine had the cylinder bore enlarged to give it just about ten cubic centimetres more displacement than its predecessor. It also featured a modified camshaft and retuned injection pump along with an optimised intake manifold. Owing to these changes the engine now developed 40 kW (55 hp) – 3.7 kW (5 hp) more than its predecessor.
The Mercedes-Benz engineers did less reengineering on the petrol engine of the sister model. It continued to produce 59 kW (80 hp), but ran more smoothly. From August 1962 onwards the Stuttgart company offered the 190 with a four-speed automatic transmission as an optional extra; as of July 1963 this option was also available for the diesel model. For both cars the additional price for the comfortable extra was DM 1400 – the same as for the six-cylinder models.