This Finny is a 1965 220b 4-door sedan named Klaus. We have been on & off tour together since 1984. I believe Iâ€™m the 2nd owner. I rescued Klaus for a reasonable price as a birthday present to myself from a prominent hometown attorney family. I used to walk the backstreets & alleys on my way to high school. Parked off an alleyway I saw this car that was so gothic & gaudy. It looked like the cars that the bad guys in the early James Bond movies always drove. It was a Mercedes Benz. When I got older, I was gonna get a Mercedes Benz like this. A couple years passed. The car was still setting there. I bought it. I was very lucky to have a father who was a â€śDoctor of Motorsâ€ť, arguably one of the best auto mechanics in the region during his time. He was a mechanical, electrical & welding wizard who specialized in European imports, was a Ferrari mechanic for a privateer racing team during the late 1950s â€“ early 1960s, and was proprietor of his own small business. He resuscitated the neglected engine & provided its new lease on life. I thankfully learned most of my automotive skills & patience from him.
The car is powered by the timeless M180.940 straight six cylinder, dual Solex 34 PJCB carbureted engine. 1965 was the last production year of this W111.010/ M180.940 model. It has the latest & greatest versions of its modelâ€™s brake system, subframe, axles, etc., but none of the overly electrical or hydro/pneumatic issues of its successors or more advanced coupe brethren. The 220b was the pedestrian version of the W111...your basic entry-level sedan, taxi or fleet car. Produced from August 1959 â€“ August 1965, most were driven into the ground or to the crusher. Production numbers were 69,000-ish, with slightly less than 5000 produced during the final year (Klausâ€™ year). It appears these Finny or Heckflosse Benzes are now encountering a surge in collector interest. I do know that drivable versions are now quite scarce on the open road (especially from the looks on other driverâ€™s faces as Klaus passes them on the motorwayâ€¦â€ťWhat the Hell was That!â€ť)
Over the past decade, my job had me living out of a suitcase travelling about America & Europe. During that time I stockpiled a mass of new OEM replacement parts. I finally created the opportunity for a major R&R. The drivetrain (engine, 4-speed automatic transmission & rear end) are all original. The engine was overhauled by my father mid 1980s. The Solex carbs were then rebuilt & bench-tested by Apple Hydraulics. The past 3 summers have been active. The original radiator was refurbished. All coolant hoses are new. All ignition components are new. I replaced the original Bosch distributor with an electronic 123Ignition this past year (probably the most impressive upgrade to driving pleasure). The driveshaft has new u-joints & rebalance. Most rubber wear & suspension components have been replaced. Bilstein shocks all around. New rear springs & Gillette Bear P185/80 R13 M/S tires. We upgraded from Girling to ATE front disc brake calipers years ago.
The seats are original & in better than average condition compared to the battered examples I usually see in ebay. It has a Becker Europa radio, but Iâ€™ve had a Blaupunkt Washington with matching 10disc CD changer in the car since the 1990s. I modestly upgraded the sound system 2 years ago with an EQ & Blaupunkt matched component speakers front & back. I'd like to strip & refinish about 2/3 of the dashboard veneer. I searched long & hard for the flip down armrestâ€¦great shape, great condition, wrong color (but I can live with that
). I have new front & rear window seals I hope to install during the off-season. Any non-original interior features I add are usually made from MB items.
Whatever mood I am in, when I climb into Klaus I feel like a million bucks. That timeless vintage smell of the interior. The spaciousness & visibility of the concert hall-like seating area (I have not experienced a car with more head or leg room). The speedometer with its vertical thermometer-like calibrations. The sound & way the doors (even after 45 years) still seal shut.
The ride is luxo-barge smooth, yet it can corner like a sports car. Itâ€™s a great town car or tour car. Zero to 60mph times are not in this carâ€™s vocabulary (with a whopping 105hp @5200rpm), but Klaus can drive forever at 75mph & can hit 100mph if need be. I added an air snorkel connection to the airbox intake similar to the W111 fuel injected models. At 80mph, the result is almost like a low boost blower kicking in. Best of all, the front end approaching a slow markâ€™s rear view mirror does wonders in moving them out of the passing lane.
For whatever reason, the car has been getting more looks & thumbs up this year than I have ever experienced. It's now end of season & Klaus is garaged until next Spring. I have a few more R&R projects to complete over the winter so the car will be good to go for another 45 years. Ride on!