Stork wing with a fish tail: test drive Mercedes 230 S W111

“Stork wing with a fish tail? What does the coat of arms of cadet Biegler? “- Asks the cultural, awareness of world literature reader. Indeed, the imperial royal officer Adolf Biegler from “Adventures of the Good Soldier Schweik” is really nothing to do. Just stork – a symbol of loyalty, including loyalty to tradition, a symbol of strength, reliability and comfort. Do not you think all this is very suitable vehicles Mercedes? And what have the fish tail – I’ll tell you.

E today seems to us that the brand Mercedes since birth due to it took place on the road Olympus, from the height of its position in spite of the attempts of competitors to approach the status of his unattainable standard of respectability and comfort. To mark has become a visible symbol of success, and the stars of rock ‘n’ roll began to offer prayers to the scene c facing the dear, kind God asking them to buy Mercedes-Benz, it took decades for the German hard work. And an important milestone on this way was the car with factory code W111, nicknamed “fish tail», Heckflosse.

When all is lost

To understand the W111 for the development of the brand, you need to rewind the tape to the time in 1945. Germany defeated and lies in ruins. Its industry is in a state of coma. The position of the company Daimler-Benz other than desperate not name: the factory in Stuttgart, destroyed by 70%, plant Zindelfingere 85%, factory trucks in Gaggenau completely destroyed, as well as plant diesel engines Berlin-Marienfeld. The disposal of the company there was only little affected small factory Benz in Mannheim. As a result, the board has to be written in its resolution:

«Daimler-Benz no longer exists due to the lack of physical production capacity.”


This is the starting position with the company began its ascent.


Almost ten years Mercedes cars produced is actually still the pre-war design, gathering strength for a breakthrough. The situation did not change nor innovative, but expensive and limited-edition coupe 300SL, the Gullwing famous, nor practically custom-made “Adenauer” jig assembly.

the era of “pontoons” Then came. “Round” body type “monocoque” models W105, W121, W128 and W180, have preserved the classic lines and contours of the wheel arches, perfectly fit into the mainstream car fifties. With these machines Daimler-Benz began an active attack on the world market: cars were delivered in 136 countries and have been produced in an amount of over half a million pieces! But most importantly – the concern was able to gain experience and build “industrial muscle.”

And yet, in spite of occurring everywhere “car boom”, the competitive pressure on the market was just horrible. Global concerns, first of all – the US, annually produces more and more new models are constantly raising the bar of comfort, speed and stylistic originality. Mercedes needed a breakthrough, something innovative that can leave astern all competitors attempt. The vehicle had to keep the tradition of Mercedes – because the main purchasing brand audience was rather conservative.

The plot of Directors

That is against this background and in the beginning of 1956 and held a working meeting, gathered the chief engineer and a member of the board of directors of concern Rudolf Ulenhautom. Apart from him, the meeting was attended by the head of the body design department Carl Vilfert and chief minder Daimler-Benz Josef Müller. The theme of the meeting can be formulated as follows: “What will happen after the pontoons?” It was then that the project was designated form, received the code «W111». One of the main objectives was to increase the size and scope of a passenger compartment and the boot.

No sooner said than done. The German is known to be a serious man, and nothing does not like to shoot the breeze. Compared with the “pontoons” cabin length has increased by 12.5, and the width of 5 cm. In this case the boot capacity has been increased by almost 50%! And then it was time to join in the work of Bela Baren, the chief guru of the group on security issues. By the time he had already patented in 1952 by the passive safety system in which a car was to consist of three contiguous zones. In the middle – a tough capsule that provides geometric integrity and eliminates the penetration of the interior of the body other elements on impact. But the adjacent front and rear area should have to absorb and dissipate impact energy by deformation of special items.

The first experiments carried out on the ‘pontoon »W120, showed promise of this approach, but in order for the system to become truly effective, it must initially be laid in the construction. That’s the car in which the deformation zones have become organic parts of the body the power structure, and has become W111.

Those interested can find on the Internet the old commercials in 1959 or 1960, which captures the moment of crash tests W111. Today, these tests seem somewhat naive, because the disposal of designers Mercedes had no special stands or waste methods or sensors stuffed dummies. But then, in 1959, the car, the owner takes care of security and acting on the principle of “self dies, and a host of Requirement,” was an absolute novelty.

Mercedes-Benz W111
Year of release:
body versions:
sedan, coupe, convertible
2.2 L-3.5 L
Total production:
370,807 copies

New, but old

But before the creators of W111 was another daunting task: to develop innovative, even futuristic design that could survive, not aging, at least age 10. But at the same time it should not cause irritation in respectable businessmen wealthy lawyers and respectable doctors – in short, have not the poorest, which concern and guided.

And then, when the fall of 1959 at the Frankfurt Motor Show stand fell concealing veil novelty, Europe car gasped. It seems to us today W111 veteran, a retired and retired, to walk in pleasant places with the same old men, remembering the days of former glory. But then it was like a flash, like a breath of fresh air.

Mercedes 230 S W111
2.2 liters, 120 liters. from.

I do not casually wrote “almost” and “apparent”. German stylists perfectly know that if you hold at least one horizontal line on the body on the line, the car visually sag. But such “archaic” piece is separated from the headlight body parts grille, remained in place. The elegantly contoured wheel arches with the edges slightly protruding beyond the outer body. Bent panoramic windows. Dual lights arranged vertically and covered with a common transparent dome as a prestigious roadster Mercedes 300SL. And – almost straight, clean lines, and seemingly flat surface!

To some it may seem strange, because already in 1955 300SL was a broad horizontal cladding c single cross bar (very popular solution in those days), bearing instead of the American “bullets” brand three-beam star. Why not formalize the front part of the new items in the same vein? But no, recognition and historical unity of style seemed more important German designer directly following the fashion. Well, the “icing on the cake”: neat, stretching along the rear wings fins, for which the car and got his nickname.

A Vilfert against!

I must say that the chief stylist of the project, Carl Vilfertu, this detail did not like it. According to the memoirs, he had to agree to it only after long persuasion and serious pressure sales professionals. The fact that it is precisely in these years, the concern planned intervention in the US, the largest and most capacious automobile market of the world.

But there at the time reigns born genius Harley Earl “Aerospace Design”, and the Big Three stylists competed in who will make the crowning rear wings, fins keels higher than those of competitors. Some models of these fins ascend above the trunk lid almost half a meter …

In general, Vilferta convinced that can not be without fins. Nevertheless, he always had the idea to remove this item, which ultimately was done – first when starting a two-door version, which had a hand in the famous Paul Marriage, and then at the end of the sixties restyling. Fins are first turned into a small rounded nodules, and then, as the representative of the evolution of Mercedes cars, and completely disappeared.

It turned out to be at the level of design and interior. Visitors at the Frankfurt Motor Show hit and finished with soft panel materials and a combination of leather and wood, and a combination of devices, control panel reminiscent of expensive radio Telefunken, the vertical belt scale speedometer. But the shape of the steering wheel, with the emblem in the center of the soft leather “polubublika” and more signal frame, became the hallmark of Mercedes for decades.

It seemed innovative and individual seats instead of a single front of the sofa, and pockets in the doors, and retractable seat belts. And such detail as front “panes” that can be opened by a predetermined angle by rotating the ribbed kruglyashi door? A gracefully curved door handles? A tailgate opening button with a special hook a finger? In fact, the interior of the W111 and now does not look very much outdated.

Three sixes

Test drives / Single
Test drive Mercedes-Benz W108: All tested before we

It’s amazing, already in 1965, skeptical journalists spoke about the 108th appearance as old-fashioned and too conservative. Well, actually, if you put a number W108 W112 with its predecessor, it will be …

38004 3 44

Yet, opening the massive door and taking place in a wide and soft driver’s seat with little or no lateral support, you feel a sense of time traveler. One would like to imagine himself some character. So who present themselves? Mafiosi from Italian or French action movie? It is no secret, elite European underworld reliability and comfort of new Mercedes cars like no less than the business elite. No, I’d better introduce myself Soviet spy Ladeynikovym of “Dead season”.

By the way, in the film, he went on the same Heckflosse with a label 230 S. This means that under its hood was a 120-strong row “Six”, and it was the car released after 1965. Before as a power unit used in-line six-cylinder engine of 2.2 liters. The cars start configuration 220 b it was equipped with a carburetor and developed 95 l. from. Distinctive features of Model 220 b was a small amount of chromium, a simple plug on the hubs and doors without pockets.

“High Version”, 220 Sb, equipped with 110-horsepower engine with two carburetors and could accelerate to 165 km / h. But the most expensive and luxurious option, 220 SEB, sported a Bosch injection system, 120 “horses” under the hood and a top speed of 172 km / h. Later, in 1969, came the most powerful and fastest version, the SE 350, equipped with a 3. 5-liter V8 rated at 200 hp. from. This “beast” could already be accelerated to speeds exceeding 200 km / h, even with the automatic transmission, “eat” at least 5 kilometers “maximum speed” and the second acceleration.

I – Boehringer!

But back to the “off season” … rook ending of the film acts in the guise of a successful businessman of an average hand. That’s right, they were the main consumers of Heckflosse. But here ends a series of dramatic events, the identification of the former concentration camp inmate actor Savushkin (in the film he plays a brilliant Rolan Bykov) discovers Nazi war criminal, Professor Hass, but it captures the West German intelligence agent.

Ladeynikovu Savushkina manages to save and send documents to their homeland. He rams the car German agent. Naturally, security is helping him stay alive. And here I sit with a broken leg, although quite alive (unlike resident BND) about broken W111 and calmly utter rolled on the scene the head of the local counter-intelligence (by the way, he moves to coupe Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing): «I ask to write that resistance during the arrest, I did not have …. ”

Or hell with them, these made-up stories? Maybe introduce ourselves Walter Shock, the Mercedes driver in the Rally World Championship in 1960? Whether or not Walter Shock – it’s too cool. He was already titled athlete, and in 1960 won for Mercedes all that is possible – and the Monte Carlo Rally and the Acropolis, and Tulip and Alloberges and Rally Poland, and in Geneva and in the “Viking Rally”, he finished second , won the title of European Champion.

It is better to introduce himself to his teammate Eugene Boehringer, who was then still a rookie, but also made very well, anyway, on the Monte Carlo Rally, he was second. Resolved, I Boehringer, the more that Eugene, as I liked to cook, and finished a career, became the owner of the hotel and the chef in his own restaurant. Five, four, three, two, one, start!

With some difficulty mastering the science shift using lever on the steering column (another tribute to the requirements of the US market). Surprisingly, after half a century after the car off the line, the box works quite well, although where the first, where the second and third, how to include a reverse gear, I understood immediately.

Rotate … God, how they hunted on this cruise ship? The suspension is very soft and comfortable, on the hills machine swings as the pillows and in the corners heels as soon as the yacht in close-hauled.

And this is not the effect of a ripe old age: in the same commercials, about which I have already mentioned, there are pictures of sea trials W111, including on the ground. All can be seen – and buildup, and banks … But the course of the car is smooth to firm. And the wheel … “donut” – a huge, solid. The steering is very long, I think, five revolutions from lock to lock.

No, let’s forget it. I’ll use myself and Mercedes S 230 1967 Release it for the purpose for which these days and used Oldtimer: for a leisurely stroll through beautiful forest path. I will enjoy the good weather and smooth travel. And – to envy the owner of this remarkable car. After all, he may at any time take it out of the garage and go for a walk, imagining himself anyone: Ladeynikovym even though Boehringer, though the Lord God, to fulfill the dream of Janis Joplin.

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