M ercedes Ponton Diesel are cars for life. Originality fanatics and concours fetishists turn their heads shaking their heads when they see the elderly pontoon trio. The chrome has pimples, the paint is dull in places, and the Bakelite steering wheels bear the marks of hundreds of thousands of kilometers. They appear enterprising like sprightly pensioners, the traces of an eventful life are written on their faces. One is even missing, what a sacrilege, the star on the front. Instead, a silversmith created a three-dimensional auricle plastic. The man in the 190 D is a doctor, an ear, nose and throat specialist.
The Mercedes Ponton is more Haflinger than a capricious thoroughbred
They only stand in the garage at night. And when a fine salt mist covers the windshield on a sunny winter's day, you trust in homemade underbody protection based on used oil. Nevertheless, Thilo Kreiser, Dr. Wolfgang Weizsäcker and Martin Heynhold their pontoons longer and more intensely than some marriages last. Everyday use fits the pontoon diesel. He is more of a Haflinger than a capricious thoroughbred.
The meeting of the Diesel triad happened informally and spontaneously, on a Saturday in golden October. Even before that, one noticed that dark pontoon Mercedes are more noticeable in Stuttgart's city traffic than camouflaged Mercedes Erlkönige. Start at eleven o'clock in Fellbach in front of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, the destination will be the Langenburg Auto Museum in Hohenlohe, 120 kilometers later, stress-free. Return at your own pace. The Motor Klassik editor is a passenger in the role of a jumper.
A Mercedes pontoon comes from Stuttgart's oldest taxi driver
The three people from Stuttgart live in and with their old pontoon diesels. The cars bear fine traces of customization. Mechanical engineer Thilo Kreiser, 44, has been driving the early pontoon with a narrow radiator grille since 1981, when he bought it from Stuttgart's oldest taxi driver, 88-year-old Georg Ohngemach, covering over 400,000 kilometers. The professional chauffeur acquired the former symbol of the economic miracle in 1956 for 9,875 marks.
A year earlier, the power of the oil engine 636 from the 170 increased from 40 to 43 hp. After all, the diesel already had overhead valves, the side-controlled oneGasoline is just a touch more spirited. Like the previous owner, Thilo Kreiser is striving for records. In spring 2002 he drove the 180 D from Stuttgart to Tehran and back, 16,000 kilometers without a breakdown in just one month. The pontoon driver as a marathon man - he prefers long distances to performance. Consumption 6.9 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers - and without a single repair.
Thilos 180 D is lovingly smacked, behind the foldable speaker cover of the former steam radio slumbers a Becker Mexico cassette from a W116. And a few centimeters below a handwheel comes to light, which the tinkerer and technician with artistic ambitions is particularly proud of: “I get a few more horsepower out with my steam wheel. When fully turned up, it increases the amount of fuel injected and I can turn up the gears. ”The otherwise soothing“ Klonk, klonk! ”Of the OM 636 turns into an angry rattle, 3,700 tours suddenly sound like 6,000.
The Mercedes Ponton is an ideal touring car
Status symbols mean nothing to the doctor Dr Wolfgang Weizsäcker, 56. He does without the “from” in the name and the star on the radiator. Instead of a Rolex, he wears an unadorned multifunctional watch and practices in Africa for months - he is something like a doctor without borders. Doing sports and sculpting is his balance, and he retires to the south of France or Spain with his 190 D. He describes the pontoon, built in 1959 with a wide radiator, as the ideal touring car. 'I know it sounds strange, but it exudes a tremendous serenity and gives you the feeling of arriving safely and relaxed after thousands of kilometers. You don't care about the hectic traffic. ”The eye falls on the Wiking pontoon model above the BMW Bavaria radio.
While he is saying this, we drive at a constant 100 km /h on the B 14 to Backnang, the car stoically absorbs the kilometers. It should be half a million by now. The OHC engine, type OM 621, runs more smoothly than the old log splitter from the Unimog, its successor with five-bearing crankshafts was in service in the W123 until 1985. In 1982 Weizsäcker bought the pontoon from a student; it is his only car. It works, he doesn't need anything else. The wide decorative strip around the window belt line distinguishes it from the simpler 180 as well as the triangular windows in the front doors.
The folding roof of the Mercedes Ponton is fascinating
On the Kocherbrücke I change to the blue one, it is not only the most beautiful of the three diesels because of the friendly color. Although the sun surrounds itself with a fine veil of cloud, the view through the large folding roof in the 180 D, built in 1961, already with a wide radiator, but still with the old OM 636 oil engine, which goes better with the legend than the OHC engine .
Michael Heynhold, 48, isMotor vehicle master and owner of an independent workshop in Stuttgart. Unlike the other two pontoon enthusiasts, who found a good copy quite early on, Heynhold was looking for a challenge. He had been working on the 180 D, built in 1961, for a long time; the large folding roof particularly appealed to him. When the previous owner finally sold the car in 1992, it had been outdoors for two years.
The Mercedes Ponton is very economical
“I'm out made a real car from a ruin after years of work. The engine also had to be overhauled, the parts cost alone amounted to 5,000 marks, ”says Heynhold, while the diagonal tires whistle in the tight corners of the Jagst valley. Despite previous reservations, his wife Uta also took the diesel to her heart: “It's not my dream car,” she admits. “But at least it's a real old-timer that doesn't cost a lot to maintain.” How true. Arrived at the destination in Langenburg, Prince Philipp, who connects distant childhood memories with the pontoon, personally measures the consumption of Thilo's taxi. Just eight liters of diesel flow from the moped pump into the 56-liter tank in the rear - and we were on our way quickly.