Debuting at the 1959 Frankfurt Auto Show, the 220 S saloon was part of a trio of six-cylinder (W111) models sporting a contemporary body style. These cars boasted unitary construction bodies, all-around independent suspension (with a single-pivot swing axle at the rear), and robust servo-assisted drum brakes.
Considerable effort went into enhancing passenger comfort and safety. The cabin was expanded, and the windows enlarged for improved visibility. The incorporation of front and rear crumple zones marked a significant advancement in automotive safety technology. This design aimed to cater to both European and North American markets. The sleek body showcased tail fins, a fashionable styling feature of the time, earning the models the nickname “Heckflosse” (Fintail).
Powered by an upgraded (110bhp DIN, 124bhp SAE in the USA) version of its predecessor’s 2,195cc overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine, the 220 S could achieve a top speed of approximately 165km/h (102.5mph). Fuel-injected SE versions eventually followed. Notably, the coupé and cabriolet variants lacked the saloon’s now-dated tail fins, and front disc brakes became standard on the 220 S in April 1962. Production of this model ceased in 1965.