With its roots going back before World War II, the 170 (W136) was the car that helped Mercedes-Benz return to regular production and aid in the company’s recovery after the devastation it suffered at the hands of allied bombers. As its name implies, the 170 utilized a 1.7 liter (1697cc), side valve four cylinder engine. The initial production run was actually before the war from 1936-1939. Following the hostilities, and with no ability to design and re-tool a new car, the 170 resumed production. Postwar examples were built between 1947 and 1953 resulting in about 155,000 total units during both production runs. Initially the 170 was a mid-range and modestly equipped car that made up the bulk of passenger car production. The chassis was also used as a basis for small trucks, ambulances and taxi cabs. But soon there was sufficient demand for a more upmarket version and the 170S was born for the 1949 model year. The S was very slightly larger than the standard 170, featured a leather interior and a full length folding canvas roof panel. For 1950, the engine was upgraded to 1,767cc and mated to an all-synchromesh 4-speed manual transmission. Suspension was also upgraded to telescopic dampers and a widened rear track with brakes getting upgraded as well. The 170S had gone from a humble post-war workhorse to a luxurious mid-sized car that served as a worthy understudy to the large and expensive 300S and Adenauer sedans.
This handsome 1950 170S is simply resplendent in black paint over a tan leather interior. A comprehensive restoration was performed over a 3 year period. As would be expected of a restoration of this quality, the body lines and panel fit are beautiful– a difficult task to get right on these cars. Inside and out, the chrome and bright work is outstanding, including the prominent radiator shell. As part of the extensive restoration, the sidevalve 4-cylinder engine was rebuilt and now runs strong and characteristically smooth. Engine bay detailing is largely correct, though not fussy or overdone, perfect for a car that begs to be driven. Correct, tan colored German leather is warm and inviting, offset by oatmeal square weave carpets bound in matching leather. The dash, door caps and window surrounds are finished in show-quality burl wood. This example is fitted with the floor shifter, making it more pleasant to drive than the column-shift version. While the cabin is pleasingly cozy, it can be brightened up by opening the full length canvas sunroof; restored using the correct texture German canvas. Between the beautiful paintwork, appealing and luxurious interior and strong running, rebuilt drivetrain, this Mercedes-Benz 170S strikes a perfect balance between show quality and exceptional driver. Correctly restored to near-concours levels to be enjoyed on the show field or touring, this charming 170S is a rare site on our roads, and would surely be welcome anywhere you take it.
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