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    Mercedes-Benz W114/W115s in for the long haul

    VALUE 2012 £5500
    VALUE NOW £7250

    / #Mercedes-Benz-W114 / #Mercedes-Benz-W115 / #Paul-Bracq / #Mercedes-Benz-OM615 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #million-mile-engine / #Mercedes-Benz-240D-3.0-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-240D-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-240D /

    Have you noticed how cool those boxy Seventies W114/5 Mercs look now? Paul Bracq’s timeless three-box design has suddenly blossomed into a gorgeous classic icon. See one in the metal and it’s lost all those European taxi and middleclass diesel plodder associations and metamorphosed into a close and stylish relative of the R107 SL. The perpendicular lines are so similar, the family resemblance so obvious that I’m surprised we hadn’t seen it before. I remember trying to crowbar my father into buying a 220D in 1971. I told him how the OM615 was nicknamed the ‘million-mile engine’. But he thought they were too suburban and bought a Daimler Sovereign instead. I was right about the longevity though. A Greek taxi driver donated his 4.6-million-kilometre #Mercedes-Benz-220D-W115 to MB’s Museum – the highest-mileage Benz ever.

    Launched in 1968, the six-cylinder W114s and four-cylinder W115s carried on to 1976 with nearly two million built. The 250/280CE two-doors have mushroomed in value but the standard saloons haven’t. A private seller in Safron Walden has a rhd 1973 220 petrol auto in light blue with 80k miles for £8000 while M&M Automotive has a rhd ’1972 220 petrol manual in cream with 11k miles for £9450. Find a cherished or restored car at around £10k and you’ll be paying a tiny fraction of what it would cost to restore one. Even pricier cars are worth considering – the ’1973 220 petrol auto with Edward Hall Classic Mercedes in Buckinghamshire doesn’t feel too expensive at £14,500. These are cool, simple and uncomplicated cars that epitomise the Seventies but have yet to be fully appreciated.
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    In the year of the departure, three German sedans set completely new accents. The Audi 100 emancipated itself from DKW and immediately became a star of the middle class. With the six-cylinder Type 2500 BMW celebrated its comeback in the luxury cars, and Mercedes said goodbye to the bestseller dash-eight of Blechbarock and swing axle.

    / #Audi-100-F104 , 1968–1976 / BMW-2500 3.3 Li, Typ E3, 1968–1976 / Mercedes-Benz W115, 1968–1976

    / #Mercedes-Benz-220D-W115 / #1970 / #1970-Mercedes-Benz-220D-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-220D / #Mercedes-Benz-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-W114 / #Mercedes-Benz

    / #BMW-2500-Typ-E3 / #BMW-2500-E3 / #BMW-2500 / #BMW-E3 / #BMW / #1971 / #1971-BMW-2500-E3

    / #Audi-100LS-Typ-F104 / #Audi-100LS-F104 / #Audi-100LS-C1 / #Audi-100-C1 / #Audi-100 / #Audi / #Audi-Typ-F104 / #1974-Audi-100LS-Typ-F104 / #1974-Audi-100 / #1974
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    WE CATCH UP WITH PART 2 OF THE HOOLIGAN BUILD AS JACO GOES ON THE PROWL THROUGH THE STREETS OF PRETORIA.

    Carrying on with Jaco Swart’s #Mercedes-Benz-W115 build, the Speed and Sound team paid the Hooligan workshop a visit a few weeks back where we found the 6-cylinder purring away on idle. Jaco stepped out of his office, greeted us with a smile and a dyno sheet in the one hand. "Check, here's the power reading we got from MRD, not too bad for a stock 2J motor eh?" quipped Jaco as walked to the car with a swagger. Admittedly, yes, the car looked way better than last time we saw it, and we could see his 20-day project was a huge success.

    Sporting a new set of 19” #RHE replica wheels, and custom lowered springs all round, the old German banger now has a certain suspicious look about it which says "some- thing's-cooking good-looking".

    Jaco grabs the keys and asks "We're going for a drive: care to join us?" No sooner had we agreed too when Herman and Johan opened the heavy doors and jumped in. Herman is the mastermind behind the fabrication work, creating all the magic in the engine bay with his meticulous attention to detail. Johan shared the passion too, helping with the overall build of the car, while Jaco on the other hand poured four-finger-high Brandewyn and Cokes during those late nights in the workshop.

    As the 2J lump roared and hissed through the streets of Pretoria, Jaco hangs his arm out the window and waxes lyrical about SMART Customs who prepared the body and resprayed the car perfectly. It shows as the setting sun gleams off the spotless chassis.

    "The motor is just perfect, and is a true reflection of the capability of a 2JZ motor” says Jaco. “With a stock bottom end, show me another motor that can produce 479hp on the wheels?"

    I guess we can't argue with that: MRD's Johan Minnaar tuned the car for reliability too, and with almost 600Nm to boot, the car is a dream to drive. As I said earlier, the engine's bottom end is standard, with the only major additions being the hefty #Borg-Warner-S366 / #Borg-Warner turbo-charger and all of Herman's shiny bits.

    The management system of choice is Dicktator, and with the fuelling being supplied by 1600cc Bosch fuel injectors, an 044 fuel pump and a modified OEM fuel cell, the engine purrs ever so slightly and roars ever so violently.

    Jaco hesitated a tad when snapper CJ asked him to do a burn out. In a blink of an eye, Herman and Johan were out the car before it even stopped, urging Jaco to gooi it!

    “Look, the driveshafts and diff are still standard, so I'm not too sure if they'll take the punishment?" explains Jaco, oblivious to the fact that Herman had already spilt water on the road to help the burn-out process. With a wry smile, Jaco dumps the clutch and in seconds, the sky is filled with smoke as both Herman and Johan disappear in the haze. It's so undescribingly funny, to watch an unsuspecting 1976 family sedan, perform a mother of a burn out. One can only stand back, point and laugh at the Hooligan #Mercedes-Benz .

    Back at the workshop, the hefty Mercedes stops in front of Kabelo, the other Hooligan member who grabs a lappie and begins wiping the sticky rubber off the fenders and rear bumper. The smile on his face says it all, testament to how an old car - if built right - can be just as appealing as any million-rand supercar.


    TECH SPECS #1976 #Mercedes-Benz-W115-2JZ-GTE

    DRIVER Jaco Swart
    Engine: #2JZ-GTE . / #Toyota / #Toyota-2JZ-GTE / #Toyota-2JZ / #Toyota-JZ /
    Exhaust: Custom turbo manifold.
    Fueling: 1600 injectors, ftf fuel pressure reg, #Bosch-044 pump / #Bosch
    Intake: Custom Intake, 90mm throttles.
    Exterior: Resprayed by #SmartCustoms
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    A blooming blue.

    This platform would set benchmarks for future mid sized #Mercedes . W114 coupes are not usually considered worthy of comprehensive restoration, but this immaculate 250C bucks that trend.

    In the early 1960s, while production of the W110 Pintails was just commencing, plans were already coming together for the W114/115 saloons that would replace them. The designers and engineers at Mercedes-Benz, under the leadership of Fritz Nallinger, Mercedes’ chief engineer, started with a clean sheet of paper, the #Mercedes-Benz-W114 and #Mercedes-Benz-W115 cars given the first post-war Mercedes-Benz platform that, excluding its drivetrain components, borrowed little from the Pintails that preceded them. This platform would set benchmarks for future mid sized Mercedes, cars later referred to as the E-Classes.

    The technical structure of the forthcoming vehicles was determined by Karl Wilfert, head of car body development. One of the primary considerations was that the replacements for the Pintail models would sport more compact dimensions overall, yet provide increased passenger space owing to the use of a contemporary unit body structure. In terms of styling, the design would be simple, elegant and timeless. By 1964, the basic parameters of the upcoming W114/115s were locked in place. Like the Pintails they would replace, four- and six-cylinder engines would be offered and as expected, a diesel motors would be crucial part of the line up. In base form, the four-cylinder oil burner would become ubiquitous in European cities as a virtually indestructible taxi.

    By 1965, three years prior to the introduction of the W114 and W115 saloons, the decision was made internally to minimise the distinction between the four- and six cylinder models, but the four-cylinder versions would ultimately get their own model designation – W115. Also in 1965, Hans Scherenberg took over project management as chief engineer when Nallinger went into retirement.

    MAKE OR BREAK

    Since the W114/115 cars were mainstream models expected to sell in greater numbers than the Pintails, the decision was made early on that, in addition to the four-door saloon, a two-door coupe, a long-wheelbase limo and an estate were also put into development. The station wagon variant was especially 4 significant as, prior to this, Mercedes-Benz had not hinted at a factory built estate, leaving that market to outside suppliers like Binz. Sadly, however, the estate variant didn’t make it into production, the first factory built Mercedes-Benz estate being the S123 that debuted in 1977.

    While the vast majority of W114 models produced would be the saloon, the coupe was still an important part of the line up. Like other W114s, the car’s elegant shape was penned by the legendary Paul Bracq, and the pillarless look - a design popular in America at the time - pointed to the car’s importance in the US market. The C-pillars, much thicker than the ones found on the mainstream four-door models, gave the car a far more luxurious look and feel.

    In anticipation of their launch in 1968, production facilities for the new model series were set up in Sindelfingen. The W114/115 cars were one of the most extensively tested new Mercedes launched up to that time. Prior to the market launch proper, 1,100 pre production vehicles of the two series were produced to facilitate testing, such was the importance Mercedes-Benz management placed on the model.

    As these new cars would be introduced for the 1968 model year, they were often referred to as the ‘Stroke 8’ Mercedes. Previewed to journalists at a pre launch event in Sicily, the W114/115 saloons made their official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968 as full production was ramping up in Sindelfingen. The W114/115s were the first Mercedes to have a rear axle with semi trailing arm. This so-called, diagonal swing-axle design was equipped with, among other things, auxiliary rubber springs and a torsion bar stabiliser as standard. Compared to the Pintails, the new axle afforded distinct improvements in handling characteristics without sacrificing ride comfort.

    GENEVA DEBUT

    The W114 coupe joined the line up in October 1968, in 250C and 250CE (fuel injected) forms. There was no four-cylinder version because the coupe was positioned as a luxury carat the top of the W114 model range. Indeed, this was the first time Mercedes-Benz offered a coupe model as an exclusive variant in the intermediate class, its status reaffirmed by the 280C an 280CE models, presented in April 1972, which boasted Mercedes’ punchy M110 straight-six, in 158bhp and 182bhp forms respectively.

    In the years after their introduction in 1968, the Stroke 8 cars were used by #Daimler-Benz Research as the basis for vehicles in its Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESP) programme, including the ESP 05 (1971) and the ESF 13 (1972). These were the cars in which technologies such as anti lock brakes and airbags were tested, paving the way for their introduction on mainstream Mercedes in the coming years.

    HOLDING ITS OWN

    The three-owner, 57,000-mile, Medium Blue 250C featured here is currently offered for sale by Classic Showcase in Oceanside, California. Built in 1972, it is one of 8,824 2.5-litre 250Cs made by Mercedes-Benz (total W114 coupe production exceeded 67,000), and we first encountered this carat the Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance in Palm Springs in February 2014. Even though it was parked next to a 300SL Roadster on the show field, it still caught our eye, and Classic Showcase’s Tom Krefetz told us this was an exceptional example of a rare W114 coupe.

    Its first two owners were related and the second owner had the car restored as a tribute to his brother-in-law. Clearly, no expense was spared. “It’s difficult to imagine performing such a comprehensive restoration on a #Mercedes-Benz-250C ,” said Tom. “But the work was performed by master craftsman Eduardo Palermini and is flawless. The restoration was completed at Classic Showcase and includes the fitting of a NOS exhaust system.

    “Everything works including the factory installed air conditioning, power windows and the #Becker Europa AM/FM stereo radio,” continued Tom. “Looking at the underside of the car, you can see that it has been prepared to the highest concours standards. While it’s safe to say that I would have had second thoughts about restoring this model to this level, it will make a Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, especially one who seeks the best 250C in the world, very, very happy.”

    This was confirmed when we drove with shop supervisor Brian Boyce on the way to our final photoshoot location. With California’s notorious potholes unavoidable, we confirmed the car’s revolutionary unibody construction remains as tight as ever, which is remarkable for a car now more than 40 years old. While not a speed demon, we had no doubt that the #Mercedes-Benz would still sprint from 0-62mph within a heartbeat of the official 12.9 seconds, and reach its top speed of 109mph.

    As enthusiasts interested in the preservation of all cars of the marque, we are very pleased to see that this Mercedes-Benz coupe was deemed fit by its previous owner to be restored to this level, for future generations to enjoy.
    Thank you to Classic Showcase for the loan of the W114 250C.

    Documentary

    Searching YouTube, you are never quite sure what you will find. During our hunt for information for this feature, we were able to locate a video that documented the launch of the W114 and W115 Mercedes, including the coupe. This video illustrates just how much Mercedes-Benz had riding on these cars, especially in export markets like North America and the UK, just as it had on each succeeding generation of the E-Class, plus the latest 212- and 207-series cars.
    To view the video, search ‘Mercedes-Benz Fascination W114 #W115 Stroke Eight Documentary’ on YouTube - it’s well worth a watch!

    Rubberon bumper, and reflector for US. The full size spare is on show in the boot area. Legroom in the rear is at a slight premium.

    The car’s revolutionary unibody structure remains as tight as ever, which is remarkable for a car now more than 40 years old

    The coupe model joined the line up in October 1968, in 250C and 250CE forms. #Becker-Europa AM/FM radio, four -speed auto. Hub caps in Medium Blue like the body.

    Safe yet very beautiful - the cabin is a dream.
    M114 unit with two carbs and an automatic choke.
    The attention to detail is truly extraordinary.

    TECH DATA
    The #Mercedes-Benz-250C-W114
    Engine #M114 2.496cc 6-cyl inline
    Power 128bhp @ 5.400rpm
    Torque 147lb ft @ 3.600rpm
    Transmission 4 speed auto. RWD
    Weight 1.375kg
    0-62mph 12.9sec
    Top speed 109mph
    Fuel consumption 24.1mpg
    Years produced #1968 - #1972

    OVERVIEW
    Solid In feel and performance, the 250C looked up to the fuel injected 250CE, and later 280C and 280CE.
    Figures for a 1972 250C as pictured – the 250C #W114 continued in 2.8-litre form until 1976: fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h. 68mph) plus 10 per cent.
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