Mercedes-Benz Pontons
and US Forces in Germany

This six page pamphlet was offered to US servicemen in Germany.  It was in the collection of Jim Portteus of Linton, Indiana because his father bought a 1959 Type 220S sedan while stationed there.


Hartwig Mueller, a Mercedes-Benz salesman in Bremerhaven, Germany from 1956 until 1964, recalls some of the details of the Sindelfingen-based Daimler-Benz  factory offering the US forces special deals on new cars.  He writes about it here:

US servicemen coming to Bremerhaven were mostly officers.  I don't remember one NCO (non-commissioned officer). Mostly younger people, Ensigns, 2nd or 1st Lieutenants, Captains, Majors and very few higher ranking officers. My customer with the highest rank was a Captain US Navy, in this case Cyril K. Wildman, from Monmouth Beach, N.J.  He ordered, within four years, three new Mercedes (Type 220a, 220S and 220Sb).  I remember fabulous dinner-evenings on board the big US Troup-Transporters "USS Darby", "Maurice Rose", "Patch", "Buckner", "Randall."


Within five years the model mix was 40 % Type 220a and exactly the same rate for the Type 220 S/SE. The rest were Type 180, 180 a, 219, 190, one 190 Diesel (sold to Lt. Dr. Magidson, as I remember), and 190 SL.

Our American friends - together with the order form - had to make a down payment of US $ 250 by check.  Mostly, as I remember, "Bank of America" and "Chase Manhattan" forms.  They had to wait a maximum of three months for their vehicles.  At that time, German customers - for some popular models - had to wait up to 28 months after placing their orders. The delivery time for the 190 SL, I remember, for German customers took about a year.  The waiting time for the Type 220a or 220S/SE was exactly 19 months. German customers were not forced to give any down payment.  So, there came many bad letters to the Stuttgart-Untertuerkheim Hauptverwaltung from Germans who had heard about the "privilege" of US servicemen.


The cars came in US equipment (sealed beam headlights and a two-plated windscreen) plus, of course, instruments in US miles. Price: DM 172,--.  About 99 % of our American friends ordered AC (air conditioning) and the famous Becker Mexico radio.  AC in Germany at that time was almost unknown. No American could understand this. A lot of people - in addition - ordered a can of original paint with the car. Not to forget reclining seats and leather upholstery. Oh yes, whitewall tires, too.  I also remember that to the U.S. equipment, there belonged red instead amber blinker lights at the rear. And as an accessory, most U.S. people ordered the white steering wheel. A lot of our American customers picked up their car in Sindelfingen to drive it to Bremerhaven for transporting it to the U.S.



The freight for a Type 219 sedan (Bremerhaven to N.Y.) was $198.  For a 220S, it was $203 at that time.  Insurance 1,5 % of list price. These sums are from 1959. The Armed Forces price for a Type 190 was DM (German Marks) 8.978,-- and for a 190 Diesel DM 9.452,50.  The exchange rate for 1 U.S. Dollar was DM 4.20 at that time. 

- Hartwig Mueller / September 28, 2003


Created September 27, 2003 / Jeff Miller
Thanks to Jim Portteus and Hartwig Mueller

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