Choice of the material for, and design of, my Interior (67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 81)

Mercedes-Benz type 219 interior, © Daimler AG

Interior of a Mercedes-Benz type 219, © Daimler AG
This is a younger 219, my 219 did not have these door panels or sun visors, see the other articles for my original panels.

The choice of material

Despite looking for a cloth interior over several years and having been in contact with dozens of saddlers and restoration material suppliers over the world, I couldn't find what I was looking for, either it looked too old (170/220) or too new (60ies). You can see cloth samples from my original seats below. The codes for my interior was:

  • Stoff (St) G1 = Farbe Grüngrau (cloth on seats green gray)
  • Kunstleder (Kl) G1 = Farbe Hellgrau (vinyl light grey)
  • Himmel G1 = Farbe Grau (cloth in ceiling/dome gray)

Since the USD exchange rate was favorable in 2008, I went for a leather interior from GAHHGAHH, color code 1079 Red. First I ordered just the driver's seat to verify that everything looked ok and after that I ordered the rest as well as a couple of hides.

In 2015 I saw and article in the German Club Mercedes-Benz InteressengemeinschaftMercedes-Benz Interessengemeinschaft's quarterly magazine "Ponton-Kurier", about a company in Holland that wove fabric by hand according to your pattern, as much as you need, Corrien MaasCorrien Maas. Expensive? Qualitative? Worth it? No idea, check them out and come back with your experience! That could probably have been the answer to my search, had I known about this company earlier (if they existed at that time…?!).

And I really want to point out, as I've said before, some of old parts do really look ugly below. The car look "OK" on the inside when I started the restoration. But now, when you see the pictures of the different parts dismantled and having been stored in moist attics, barns etc this is how they look.

A side note here since we're talking about Mercedes, leather interior and my color code 1079, Red (or Rot if you use the original language). This color is often called Roser red (you will also find a couple of other color suffixes, like black). That is, to my knowledge, a bit stupid since red is red and Roser is Roser. Red is a color and Roser is a company that made leather for Mercedes-Benz. They produced it in other colors than red... The special thing about Roser is their dying technique. There are several descriptions of this but you can for example read Gerry's article About Roser leatherAbout Roser leather. My leather comes from GAHH and is their "1079 Roser red". I've never double checked with them if I should have ordered a Roser-Roser-Roser red in order to get it surface dyed. My seats and separate hides are definitively not surface dyed but vat-dyed. But I'm rather happy anyway :). But if I'm correct on this one, that the GAHH leather is actually not using Roser's technique, surface dyed, the patina the leather will have when I'm dead will not be as beautiful as it should be.

  • Original unbleached Ponton cloth (St) G1=color green grey
  • Sun bleached cloth

Reasoning behind my choices of interior detailing

I wouldn’t have had any issues with the interior if I had gone with a cloth interior as the car had from the beginning. But since I changed my “simple” 219 to leather, not a common option on neither this type, nor the 180/190, I had problems finding reference objects for the several questions that popped up. Two issues are however worth to mention:

  • How to cover the B-pillar
  • How should the windlace look like
  • (plus the story around the straps, which is covered in Sun visors, straps)

B-pillar

The cover of the B-pillar was not such a difficult problem to solve since I found pictures of cars, I know are original for certain (I would like to thank mr Kuster from the Ponton list and Ponton Manufaktur Hanna for some of them).

What was interesting is that the 180/190/219 with vinyl/leather had the B-pillar covered with leather or vinyl (and cloth – or the same vinyl as the dome if a “vinyl car”), not up to the bottom of the bakelite window frame but seemingly slightly below. On the 220a/S/SE the leather is in line with the wooden window frame. There is of course a margin for error here since it depends on how exact the mounting of the cover and the window frame is, add a vertical door adjustment and you can have a couple of more millimeters difference.

See the first three pictures in the gallery below, which shows one 190b -61 and two a 219 -57, all three with bakelite windows frames. In all three pictures it is more or less clear that the joint on the B-pillar is below the bakelite window frame. The fourth picture shows a 220S -57, with an unrestored leather interior, where you can see how the markings of the wooden window frame lines up with the joint between leather and cloth on the B-pillar. The last two pictures show how the seam between the leather and the cloth is made. Note the fold of the leather on the cover's rear side!

  • The B-pillar cover of a Ponton 190b -61 and its joint between cloth and leather
  • The B-pillar cover of a Mercedes Ponton 219 -59 and its joint between cloth and leather
  • The B-pillar cover of a MB Ponton 219 -57 and its joint between cloth and leather
  • The B-pillar cover of a Mercedes Ponton 220S -57 and its joint between cloth and leather
  • A detail of the cloth/leather joint on a cover for a 219 -57 Ponton
  • A detail of the cloth/leather joint on the rear side of a cover for a 219 -57 Ponton. Note the leather fold

So why this difference, the gap between the joint and different types of window frames? I had some Ponton friends measuring the height of the leather on their cars, from the bottom of the B-pillar cover up to the join. The measurements were almost the same, independently if a 180/190/219 or 220a/S/SE. What however differs is the height of the window frames; the wooden window frame is ~1,5cm higher than the bakelite ditto, more or less the measured difference between the upper edge of the leather on the B-pillar and the bottom of the 180/190/219 bakelite window frame. So, if my theory is correct, the answer to this question is that Mercedes-Benz, probably due to save some money, had the same B-pillar cover on all Ponton models, whether equipped with bakelite or wood. Please let me know if you have different experiences and/or are of different opinion!

Drawing explaining the theory behind the gap between the cloth/leather joint and the bakelite window frame on a Mercedes Ponton

Drawing explaining the theory behind the gap between the cloth/leather joint and the bakelite window frame

During the assembly I did the opposite from what I just spent many man-days to research… For me the gap between the leather and the bakelite window frame looks odd so I took the decision (and my car’s interior isn’t original anyway) to set the border between the leather and the cloth on the B-pillar cover in line with the bakelite window frame. If I change my mind in the future, it’s easy to change since I have a lot of leather and cloth saved.

Do also see the article "Centre pillars" for the final result!

Windlace

Many years ago, one of my trusted “Ponton professors” said that the windlace of my early -57, leather converted 219 should be cloth (same as the dome cloth) above the bottom of the window frame and leather beneath, i.e. the same design as the B-pillar! When I had a saddler install the Webasto sliding roof and the dome, they also had to do the windlaces. At that time I didn’t have the energy to go for this cloth/leather combination and had them install cloth-only windlaces. When I came closer to final assembly of the car, 2017, I realized they had installed the windlaces wrong. Too thick along the B-pillar, not allowing its cover to be mounted correctly and, above all, they hadn’t installed windlaces along the A-pillar. How I had missed that I don’t know.

Another drawing showing the theory behind the gap between the cloth/leather joint and the bakelite window frame on a Mercedes Ponton

Another drawing explaining the theory behind the gap between the cloth/leather joint and the bakelite window frame, here with the door card shown

When the windlaces had to be re-done anyway, I started to think about the cloth/leather combination again. I started to look at the pictures I had at hand in order to find evidence for this combination. At a first glance all windlaces had only one material, cloth or vinyl (leather in some cases?!). None had a combination of two materials. Research time!

Contacts with several very well reputed saddlers, restorers, material suppliers and “Ponton professors” in Europe and in the US didn’t make me wiser. Almost all had different opinions about what was “original” when it came to the interior. (On the other hand, many of them are probably correct, but they have seen only a subset of the Pontons delivered and they changed a lot over the years when it comes to details. But that doesn’t mean that their “correct” is correct for all Pontons.)

What about pictures? Often when you find pictures of “original cars” it turns out that some things have been replaced/repaired over the years, especially regarding the interior. Restorations were done also during the 70ies (if not earlier) and they can look original with good patina today, 50 years later. Make sure that the pictures you want to base a decision on, really show an original car, at least when it comes to the detail you are researching. How do you know that, or at least get a very high probability of it? I suppose the only thing you can base it on is a known history of the car; service records, old pictures and the previous owners (who may have forgotten things as my father…), together with your own experience, knowledge and gut-feeling.

Drawings I made for the saddler's planning of the fitting of new windlaces in a cloth/leather combination in my Mercedes 219 of the Ponton type

Drawings I made for the saddler's planning of the fitting of new windlaces in a cloth/leather combination

Anyway, I decided I had enough, very Ponton-knowledgeable people supporting the originality of the cloth/leather combination as described. Going through my picture collection again, now more meticulously, I also found two cars with this setup. Based on the complete picture series covering the interiors as a whole as well as detail pictures, they seemed to be original. It was two 220S from 1956 with low VIN-numbers, and one with only two owners and low mileage at the time the pictures were taken. The first two pictures below clearly show the leather and cloth combination along the A-pillar. The third shows the list along the C-pillar where the leather is still in place, but where the fabric seems to have fallen off. The last two pictures is from the other car, where you can see remnants of cloth on the A-pillar in the first pic, and remnants of leather in the second.

  • The windlace along the A-pillar of an early 220S -56
  • Another pic of the windlace along the A-pillar of an early 220S -56
  • The windlace along the B-pillar of an early 220S -56
  • Fragments of cloth on windlace on upper part of A-pillar belonging to a 220S -56 ponton
  • Fragments of leather on windlace on lower part of A-pillar belonging to a 220S -56 ponton

So, I gave the saddler a Go to install the cloth/leather combination. This was done with the border between leather and cloth in line with the bakelite window frame, as on the B-pillar.

No, I’m still not +100% sure about the existence of the combination and I don’t know if it is correct on a 219, or more precisely on a 219 early 1957, a 1956 model in many details. But again, the car is not original with a leather interior anyway and that makes me allow myself a certain amount of freedom. For me it also makes sense, the windlaces now matches the B-pillar and having leather under the window frame, where shoes etc easily touches the windlace, makes it more durable.

Why don’t all leather Ponton have this, to me and many others, more logical design of the windlaces. My theory about the B-pillar is probably also valid on this item. Both the production of the cloth/leather windlace itself as well as the fitting and adjustment of it along the assembly line, get more complicated and inefficient. It wouldn’t be the first, and last, time the red pencil of the finance department was used in model maintenance in order to abolish elaborate details. Based on the very few pictures I have with this, my guess is that the design was used only during a very short period before it was taken off the production line. If it existed at all...

The result of this will be visible in the Interior assembly-article. Stay tuned!!!!

Windlace at the C-pillar

One small, maybe unnecessary, note I would like to add. The large picture you see below is by many considered to be the only way a windlace of a Ponton can look like, zig-zag, and also the only way it should be mounted along the dog-leg of the C-pillar. There are several different types of cloth, leather and vinyl, for the windlace. My 219 had a different cloth as you can see in the small, inserted image.

My Ponton also had the two parts of the rear windlace to meet differently along the dog-leg, with the bottom part laying behind the upper part. At the end I decided to mount my windlace with the bottom part being in front, as it “should”. Looks better and one less question to answer during Ponton meetings in the future :-)…

The typical zig-zag, or snake, pattern of a Ponton windlace and how the two parts of the windlace meet along the dog-leg

The "typical" zig-zag/snake pattern of a Ponton windlace. The picture also shows how the two parts of the windlace meet along the dog-leg. Inserted is also a picture showing my original windlace