Now here’s a classic Benz one doesn’t see every day, the 230S W111 “tailfin,” or heckflosse, built between 1959 and 1965. Even this very dramatic and very American design feature, Mercedes managed to pull off in a very understated manner. As in: okay, we’ll give you a small tailfin… but the rest of the car stays very restrained and serious. And that’s pretty much how it came out.
The W111 is not even seen at every German car or Mercedes-Benz gathering. I believe this is merely the third or fourth W111 or W112 tailfin sedan that I’ve seen in the US. These sedans were the volume, bread and butter cars of for Mercedes-Benz of the time, and even now aren’t valued especially highly even in concours condition, which is why we don’t see too many of them. Driver examples can still be found in pretty miserable cosmetic condition, and it’s of course the 280SE coupe that Mercedes collectors are after. So it was nice to see a daily driver sedan with one of the base engines for a change.
I think its safe to say that these were much more popular in markets other than North America. It seems every time a cache of classics is unearthed in some place like South Africa or Morocco, a bunch of W111 sedans will invariably be among the cars. No, we weren’t exactly early adopters when it came to large Mercedes-Benz sedans.
Engines in the coupe and sedan ranged from the 2.2 liter 220 model, to the 3.5 liter 280 SE 3.5 coupe and cabrio. The W111 sedan didn’t get the range topping engine, as that was a version called the W112, which is moderately more sought after by collectors today.
The coachbuilder Binz used to build ambulances and stations wagon based on the W111 platform, as with the preceding Ponton sedans, before M-B itself came out with the W123 station wagon. But that was much much later.
Aside from the more sunny states, I can’t imagine where else in the US one could find a W111 tailfin sedan that’s not garaged.