The Mercedes-Benz W120 and W121 "Ponton" cars were produced from 1953 through 1962. They were sold under the "180" and "190" model names. The Ponton models were replaced by the W110 "Fintail" models beginning in 1961. The 180 was the first 'small' Mercedes, it can be thought as the C-class of that era. Mercedes-Benz would return to this market segment in 1982 with the 190E. The W121 190 was the E-class of the time. All the 'Ponton' generation models looked very similar in appearance, one could not clearly identify even a 220SE from a 180, only after seeing its larger size and chrome touches was it possible to identify it as a different model. This was the only generation in which all models looked incredibly similar, though the 300 was exclusive.
The form and body of the car changed little during its production run. However, in 1957, a year after the introduction of the 190 sedan the Mercedes star at the front of the car was made detachable: reports at the time indicated that this was either to pander to the requirements of certain export markets, notably Switzerland or to reduce the risk of pedestrian injury in the event of an accident.
A roadster variant, the R121, better known as the 190SL, was produced from 1955 to 1963.