Mercedes-Benz, during its chrome-bumper era, could never be accused of making changes for change’s sake.
Instead, it tended to make a careful plan and stick with it.
The Ponton of 1953, the first modern, unitary-bodied Mercedes passenger car, was the genesis of a post-war concept that would carry the marque through to the ’70s.
It was nothing more than a beautifully engineered and built three-box, five-seat, overhead-cam-engined saloon car with swing-axle rear suspension that, across a typical nine-year production cycle, was expected to serve as a diesel taxi workhorse while also, in its six-cylinder form, cutting the mustard as luxury transport.
So if the 1959 Fintail range was little more than a safer, more fashionable Ponton, then the W108 – and its various extrapolations – was really just a tidied-up Fintail with a variety of six-cylinder and V8 engine options.
Certain glamour models such as the 300SL and 300 Adenauers fell outside of this mainstream engineering rationalism, but even the pretty Pagoda SL series was really just a prudent development of Fintail technology.