A Tribute to Mercedes Benz Luxury Coupes From 1952 to 1991

by : Dwyane Thomas

The Mercedes luxury coupes embodies forty years of design and styling that has made Mercedes Benz to become one of the most renowned luxury brand in the world.

The story of Mercedes luxury coupes started in the year 1950 in West Germany years later after the Second World War. During that time the traffic density in Germany was very low with only 19 cars per 1000 habitants. Despite the depressing post war situation in Germany Mercedes Benz was able to shine through and was able to launched the 300 S Coupe in the W 188 model series which was presented at the Paris Motor Show in autumn of 1951. And then a year later in the summer of 1952 the 300 S Coupe entered series of production.

The 300 S Coupe demonstrated Mercedes Benz outstanding engineering expertise and its entrepreneurial spirit. The S Coupe was equipped with 150 hp six-cylinder engine and capable of reaching 175km/h.

In 1955 Mercedes Benz presented a revised model of the 300 S, the 300 Sc Coupe which is equipped with an injection pump that resulted to its 128kW/175hp output. The new 300 Sc Coupe was also made even more comfortable with the addition of a single-joint swing axle derived from the Saloon model. Between the years 1951 to 1955 only 314 of the W 188 series coupes were produced.

The year 1956 an economic recovery in Germany had developed which was recorded in history as an "economic miracle". For the past four years starting 1952, car ownership in Germany has doubled to 40 per 1000 inhabitants.

It was also in the year 1956 when the first transatlantic telephone cable went into service making it possible to call New York or San Francisco from the comfort of one's home. This year was also the start of the global revolution in telecommunications. Mercedes Benz presented the 220 S Coupe in the W 180 series also on this same year. The 220 S is a two door coupe with flowing roofline and prominent, curved rear window. And just like the 300 S Coupe the 220 S also displayed powerful and elegant contours that is typical of a Mercedes vehicle.

The large bumpers and fog lamps of the 220 S characterized the front end but its most striking feature was the three-fold division of the passenger cell, front end and rear end which has led to the "Pontoon Mercedes" nickname given to the 220 S. The 220 S is the very first coupe ever produced by Mercedes-Benz to possess a self-supporting body which was welded to the frame floor.

The "Pontoon Mercedes" models were given a 74kW/100hp engine which was increased later to 78kW/106 hp. Its front wheel location was also enhanced to provide better riding comfort. The same thing was done with the single-joint swing axle with its low pivot point. And at an addition of 450 Marks, an automatic, hydraulic clutch called "Hydrak" is added.

The interior was also luxurious and included polished exotic wood trim, leather upholstery and an auxiliary fan which are for heating and ventilation system. The "Pontoon Mercedes" was a blend of "Modern technology and purposeful elegance". As answer to the demands of customers, Mercedes-Benz offered a petrol injection system in the 220 SE W 128 series at an extra cost amounting to 1900 Marks from 1958. Only 2081 220 S and 220 SE coupes were produced. And today the "Pontoon" Coupes have become one of the most sought after collectors' items.

1961 is the year when Mercedes Benz has started to attract enormous international attention. This is also the very same year when the GDR sent a construction team to build the wall that would separate the East and West Berlin. This has marked the political division which has lasted for 28 years.

Despite the political strife in Berlin Mercedes-Benz was able to launch another coupe, the 220 SEb coupe in the W 111 series which was presented at the opening ceremony for the new Museum at the plant in Stuttgart-Unterturkheim on February 24. The new coupe as expected has once again demonstrated the creativity and unerring sense of style that Mercedes vehicles are known for.

The 220 SEb is a four-seater coupe provided with plenty of room for long trips. It has adopted the engine and suspension plus the safety body from the four-door Saloon. It is powered by a six-cylinder engine that delivers 120 hp, enough for high average speeds on long journeys. The 220 SEb was the first series production car made by Mercedes Benz to feature disc brakes at the front. A padded steering wheel, three-point seat belts and new wedge-pin door locks were also added.

Then came the year 1981 which is the era of global communication, it was during this year that Mercedes Benz launched its 380 SEC Coupe and 500 SEC Coupe in the C 126 model series. With the production of these new coupes the designers and engineers of Mercedes Benz has once again turned to the S-Class as their basis. The 380 and 500 SEC were given slightly bigger dimensions.

The 380 SEC and 500 SEC coupes were also given the V8 engines which have been revised to achieve reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions as part of the Mercedes Benz Energy concept. The output of the 380 SEC Coupe was 150 kW/204hp while the 500 SEC Coupe delivers 170kW/231 hp. And according to a motoring magazine: "The feeling of spaciousness and visibility are quite excellent, the SEC appears to drive itself."

The SEC coupes were also given improved camshafts with altered timing, air-bathed injection valves and electronic idling speed control. The SEC coupes also share the same safety features as those of the S-class Saloons.

One of the most interesting interior features of the SEC coupes was the electrically operated belt feeders which were designed to bring the seat belts into the filed vision on all four seats while those of the driver and the front passenger were made easily accessible. Newer types of Mercedes Coupes produced today are equipped with even more advance equipments and parts such as the which helps in reducing harmful emissions.