ROAD TESTING THE MERCEDES BENZ 220 SE SALOON 1961

ROAD TESTING THE MERCEDES BENZ 220 SE SALOON 1961

BY JOHN B. BALL – ILLUSTRATED BRISTOL NEWS.

THE NEW STYLED larger Mercedes 220 SE was first seen in this country at the 1959 Motor Show. It was, however, some time after this before we began to see this vehicle on the home market, and despite the fact that greater production has considerably cut down the waiting period, there is still a very great demand for this German de luxe car.

The 220 SE is the only production car in the world which offers fuel injection. To the uninformed, this really means that the carburettors are completely replaced by a fuel pump which injects petrol into the combustion chamber. The main advantage of this, of course, is that the injection timing is always perfect, and varies in relation to the speed of the engine. This not only gives perfectly smooth running, but also increases the brake horsepower of the engine, and gives a better and more balanced fuel consumption.

The exterior line of this Mercedes is dignified and elegant, and although it gives an impression of power and speed, could not under any circumstances be called ‘rakish’. It is six inches longer than its predecessor, and with an overall length of over 16 ft. must certainly be classed as a ‘big’ car. Upon entering the saloon, one must be impressed by the amount of passenger space available. In the front, two semi-bucket type seats give maximum comfort to the driver and passenger, whilst a broad armrest will fold away and with the insertion of a cushion, a third person can be taken as an occasional passenger. In the rear, three fully grown people could be accommodated in complete comfort without any crowding.

The leather upholstered seats are firmly comfortable, and the standard of trim and saloon fittings is extremely high. At the front, however, I was not at all impressed by the dashboard and facia. Although at first glance it looked extremely attractive, having a padded leather head and foot, the centre itself is almost completely dominated by the heater and demister controls.

The most important instruments are enclosed in what I consider to be a particularly cluttered cowl, which is seen through the steering wheel, but even this view is broken by the inner horn ring. This, I feel, is a particularly bad mistake, for in the normal driving position I found that I could not take a full reading of my instruments without close scrutiny, which, of course, must surely be a very bad point. The foot controls and hand-brake are nicely placed, as are the hand instruments and indicator controls. Mercedes have, in the past, no doubt due to their racing successes, been accredited with excellent performances, and in the acceleration field the 220 SE is no exception.

I found it was possible to go from a standing start to 50 m.p.h. in as little as six seconds, and a standing start to 60 m.p.h. (using only three gears) in 10.2 seconds. Maximum speed, which on the test was 115 m.p.h., whilst a high speed run down the Ml showed an average of 104 m.p.h. all this from a mere 2.2 litre engine giving ~ fuel consumption of 22-26 miles per gallon.

This Saloon interior just shows how much comfort and luxury can be found in this Mercedes.

This Mercedes is at its happiest when cruising at fairly high speeds. The engine,I would say, was not exactly soundless, although the noise was not unpleasant, and certainly gave the driver a feeling that there was plenty of power under the bonnet. Having happily and easily obtained these higher speeds, I then began to wonder about the safety factor, and the stopping of this rather large and heavy vehicle. I found that the Ate type servo-assisted drum brakes were excellent and completely without fault, and it is interesting to note that the Germans, at least, are not convinced that disc brakes are the final answer. In this particular instance, I must completely agree with them. If the most noteworthy thing about the Mercedes is its acceleration, then the second most outstanding point is its road-holding and cornering ability.

After getting used to this car I found that the car will almost corner as fast as one dare drive it into them! There is absolutely no tyre squeal whatsoever, and the suspension, which incidentally is rather softer than on the previous model, tends to cause the body to heel over slightly. This induces a certain amount of under-steer, which is a particularly pleasing feature when cornering fast, and after having done quite a bit of this type of motoring I then began to realise how this Mercedes won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1960. Luggage space in this German car takes on almost American proportions, for the huge boot is sufficient to take 5 or 6 passengers’ personal luggage, and still leave plenty of room to spare!

To sum up, this fuel injection Mercedes is dignified, elegant, and has an extremely good performance. It is comfortable, is well finished, and will do most of the things that are ever likely to be asked of a car of this size—but then so it should, for it isn’t exactly cheap.

Specification Engine: 6 Cylinders—Fuel Injection Capacity—2, 195 c.c. Body: Length 16’ 2” Width 5’ 10” Weight 29! cwts. Petrol consumption 22-25 mpg. Price: £2,909. 3. 1 including tax.

THE 1961 MOTOR SHOW LONDON

LAST YEAR’S MOTOR SHOW was a Complete flop in almost every department. Firstly, the public attendance figures were well down, and secondly the number of orders both for the overseas and home markets were greatly reduced from those of the previous show. The reason for this, of course, was the lack of new models that the public, and indeed the overseas buyers badly wanted to see. At this time, the British motor manufacturers had a completely sleepy and complacent attitude, and with the impression in mind that another colour or a bit more chrome would attract the public, largely the same models that the public had seen during the previous year were put on view. With the almost complete collapse of the second-hand market at home, plus the credit restrictions, the state of affairs in the motor industry that we had seen in this country for so long had gradually changed.

No longer do we have to put down our name and wait for an indeterminate period before our dealer brightly tells us ‘it’s arrived!’ We now find that the motor retailer has got to go out and sell the cars, and indeed 90of the production cars on the home market are at present available ‘off the shelf’. With this air of competition having been introduced, our designers have really come into their own, and recently over the past twelve months have produced some delightful motor cars. This is, of course, the only way that the British manufacturers can keep their heads above water in the face of ever-increasing continental competition, and I feel more than ever before that during the past twelve months British cars have put themselves way ahead, but that does not exclude some of the more specialised and usually larger-sized foreign cars that are still selling well in this country.

It was with this air of competition in mind that I reviewed the British and foreign stands at Earl’s Court.

Posted by brizzle born and bred on 2007-12-16 10:15:11

Tagged: , 1961 , mercedes 220 se , mercedes benz , motorcar , motor vehicle , UK , German , Bristol , UK-cars , British-cars