Mercedes-Benz W114 is First Produced
The Mercedes-Benz W114 (and similar W115) are smaller sedans and coupes first introduced within the 1968 Mercedes-Benz model line up.
The 1968 W114/W115, the S-Class cars, and the 280SL were all marketed as the 'New Generation Models'. In fact the W114/W115 were the only truly new cars in the 'New Generation' lineup. The W108 chassis models (280S, 280SE and 280SEL) and the long wheel-base W109 chassis models (the 300SEL) having been first introduced in 1965 The W113 280SL was also an earlier design, which in 230SL form dated from 1963. Even though most of the 1968 New Generation models were not new, all bore the 'Stroke-8' "/8" suffix on their ID plates. However Stroke-8 (/8) is often used as shorthand for the W114/W115 models.
The presence of the W114/W115 chassis within the New Generation Models is significant within the model history of Mercedes-Benz, as it was the first post-war Mercedes-Benz production car to use a newly engineered chassis, not derived in any way from preceding models. The new chassis format of semi-trailing rear arms and ball-joint front end, first displayed in the W114/W115 chassis would be used in all new Mercedes passenger car models until the development of the multi-link rear suspensions of the 1980s. The W108/109 S-Class chassis of the 280S/8, 280SE/8 and 300SEL/8 (and W113 280SL Pagoda) would be the last of the low-pivot swing axle and king pin/double wishbone front ends. The next S-Class -the W116 chassis- having the same engineering of the W114/115. The improvement in handling and remarkable comfort would also make its way into the R107 SL-Class Roadster of 1971.
The W114 chassis used straight-6 engines and were sold under the "230", "250", and "280" model names. The W115 used straight-4 and straight-5 engines and were sold as the "200", "220", "230", and "240". The W114/W115 models replaced the W110 Fintail models beginning in 1968, and were themselves replaced by the W123 series after 1976.
The Mercedes-Benz W114/W115 was the upmarket executive mid-sized saloon model for Mercedes being somewhat smaller than the S-Class cars. Though not a particularly small car they are often referred to as the "Compact" model. Mercedes also launched its first 5-cylinder diesel engine OM617 in this chassis. This car had a distinctive appeal owing to its beautiful, classic (modern for the time) design and the superb level of integrity and refinement offered. In design terms, it followed heavily in the direction set by the W108/109 S-class, which was launched in 1965 and heralded the new design idiom. The car was designed by famous French auto designer Paul Bracq who was chief designer at Mercedes-Benz for models from 1957 to 1967, a period that included models such as the Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 and the beautiful Pagoda coupé. Bracq was also responsible for BMW designs (1970–74) and Peugeot designs (1974–96).
The W114 was given a major facelift in 1973 - which included some exterior refinements such as a lower bonnet-line and a lower wider grill and lower placed headlamps, and no more old-fashioned quarter front windows and also two big rear view mirrors. The changes bringing the W114 more in line with the styling of the other models in the range, specifically the new in 1972 W116 S-Class. In the interior inertia reel belts were introduced, a new-generation padded steering wheel was added with a modern 4-hole design and quite a few other minor changes took place.
A coupé variant of this model was introduced in 1969 with a 'C' designated after the model number. Where the saloon would just have '280E' written on the boot lid, the coupé would have '280CE'. The exclusivity of the coupé was reflected by a longer boot hood, and the 250C was fitted with a 2.8 litre 6-cylinder engine, whereas the saloon was fitted with the 2.5. It is considered by some to be one of the finest classics of the 60's and 70's, although this is not reflected in the prices of these cars which is generally less than its more popular contemporaries the Mercedes SL R107/C107 roadster and coupe (1971–1989), and a fraction of price commanded by the Pagoda models (1963–1971). While a 'hard-top' unlike the fully convertible SL, the pillarless design allowed all the windows could be wound completely away for "summer motoring". Only 67,048 coupés were made from 1969 to 1976 against 1.852,008 saloons. Of these 24,669 were "280C", "280CE" (top of the range) and 42,379 "250C" and "250CE".
Like its saloon variant this car also boasted advanced technological innovations. 1969 saw the introduction of the Bosch D-jetronic fully electronic fuel injection system into the 250CE. This was the first ever production Mercedes-Benz to use this system.
Other innovations in the W114/W115 models include a center console (a first in a Mercedes sedan), ribbed taillights in 1974. All coupe models used the 6-cylinder engine (and thus were W114s) and were designated with a "C" in the model name.
An interesting fact that should be added is that a Mercedes-Benz 220 D "pick-up" on the W115 chassis was built briefly in Argentina in 1970s.
The W114/W115 was introduced in North America in 1968, but with fewer engine choices than elsewhere. These models from the start had unique headlights, utilizing a sealed beam lamp instead of the H4 type used in the European models. Bumpers changed frequently and there were at least three different bumpers used over the production run in NA. For 1974 the bumpers grew significantly due to new DOT requirements. Many agree that these 'tacked-on' bumpers significantly detracted from the lines and the shape of the /8, though this wasn't the only model line that was affected during this era.
Today in America, many W114/W115s are still around, but the vast majority are those equipped with the nearly bullet-proof OM616 4-cylinder or the OM617 5-cylinder. North American 240Ds were offered with a 4-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, whereas all 5-cylinder 300D models were equipped with the 4-speed automatic without a manual option.