Mercedes-Benz 180 Pioneered The Idea Of Camouflaged Prototypes

hace 8 meses, 3 semanas - 4 septiembre 2023, Carbuzz
Mercedes-Benz 180 Pioneered The Idea Of Camouflaged Prototypes
The W120 is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The Mercedes-Benz 180 or the W120 is more than just the predecessor of the modern E-Class; it's also a pioneer in the practice of carmakers employing camouflage on their upcoming vehicles. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Mercedes is looking back on its brilliant backstory. The W120 is said to be the first car to be featured in a spy photo, as its prototype version appeared in the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport in 1952.

The German magazine published the W120 spy photos in a special column called Erlkonig, a term taken from a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe entitled Der Erlkonige. The publication changed the poem's first line from "Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?" to "Who drives there so fast through rain and wind?" referring to the Mercedes-Benz 180 W120.

Since then, carmakers have wrapped their prototype vehicles in camouflage to hide their new designs. The art of car camouflage was deemed necessary to confuse journalists and not allow competing car brands to have a sneak peek at the design and new technology equipped on the prototype model.

The said practice is still evident in the modern automotive industry as car brands put effort into wrapping up their upcoming vehicle to prevent spy shot photographers from leaking their new designs.

The Mercedes-Benz 180 was introduced in 1953, and it features a pontoon-type body, a design that has fully integrated fenders and a rectangular construction. This design language gives the vehicle lower air resistance, less wind noise, lower weight, and a more spacious cabin.

The W120/121 "Ponton" model series was manufactured from 1953-1962, with 443,000 examples. It has either a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline or a diesel engine, producing 52 horsepower and 40 hp, respectively.

The most successful variant was the 180 D, with 150,000 vehicles produced. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz built 117,192 units of the 180 equipped with a gasoline engine.

An example of the Mercedes-Benz 180 D finished in black exterior paint is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. This example was built in 1955, and it comes with special equipment that includes the exterior mirror on the left and a set of fog lamps. Thankfully, it no longer needs to be camouflaged, and we can enjoy its beauty in all its classic glory.

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