Cohort Sighting: Did Mercedes Copy the 1958 Rambler For Their W111 “Grosser Flossen”?

Mercedes W111 and Rambler

In addition to some other shots from Cuba posted at the Cohort, this one by ptfour caught my (and his) because of the obvious similarities between the Rambler and Mercedes.  Of course, we’re undoubtedly not the first to notice the similarities, and I specifically  alluded them in my 1959 Rambler CC (which I did not run during already crowded AMC Week). But this shot shows even more clearly the basic architectural similarities between them, even though the Rambler’s gaudiness is (naturally) toned down a bit for German consumption.

CC 137 188 800 crop-vert

Here’s the comparison shot from that CC. The ’58 Rambler appeared in the fall of 1957, and the W111 220S/SE had its premiere in August 1959, almost exactly two years earlier.

Rambler 1956

Of course, the ’58 Rambler was just an evolution of the 1956, which in terms of its smaller rear fins is almost more like the Mercedes. And it wasn’t just design: the two cars (1958 Rambler and W 111) are almost identical in dimensions: both have 108″ wheelbase, and are less than an in apart in overall length (191″). I can’t readily find the track and height dimensions for the Rambler, but I suspect they’re very close too.

Mercedes W110 and Rambler

Obviously, Mercedes didn’t start totally from scratch with the W111/110, as its wheelbase was similarly sized to its “Ponton” predecessor. But when it came to “styling” the W111, which was under the purview of Karl Wilfert, the W111 was a totally new direction for Mercedes. And although there undoubtedly were other influences at the time, there’s little doubt in my mind that the Rambler played a role, likely quite a significant one. The Rambler, with its space-efficient boxy body, was rather unusual for America at the time, but it was the very model of a European modern full-size sedan.