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  • Mercedes-Benz W 115.
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    Fascination Mercedes-Benz “Stroke 8”.

    Elegant yet clear lines.

Breakthrough in the upper medium class.

The upper and luxury class models of Mercedes-Benz have always been something very special, but the breakthrough in the upper medium class only came with the “Stroke 8” in 1968. This is now a true classic in Europe and the USA, and on the African continent it is an automotive legend.

The model series from the E-Class ancestral line impressed with its clear design idiom and a design distinctive from that in the luxury segment. The success of the “Stroke 8”, as fans later nicknamed this vehicle generation thanks to the suffix “/8” in the model designation, was overwhelming: for the first time, more than one million units of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle family were sold. Alongside the saloons, they also include coupés, saloons with a long wheelbase and chassis for special bodies.

No surprise that the 2,000,000th Mercedes-Benz passenger car of the postwar period was a “Stroke 8”.

No surprise that the 2,000,000th Mercedes-Benz passenger car of the postwar period was a “Stroke 8”.

The classic design of the Mercedes-Benz W 114 remains a showpiece to this day. The time of opulent American influences had come to an end by the late 1960s.

The classic design of the Mercedes-Benz W 114 remains a showpiece to this day. The time of opulent American influences had come to an end by the late 1960s.

The definitive of an indestructible taxi.

In our latitudes, the series W 114/W 115 Mercedes-Benz became the definitive, indestructible taxi. At the end of the 1960s, plenty of space, great comfort and, to put it mildly, a restrained engine output not only made the “Stroke 8” a common sight on the roads in an ivory paint finish. To this day, no taxi has epitomised the taxi more than the “Stroke 8”. Alternatives were also available, however, and not every W 115 was powered by a 60 hp pre-chamber diesel engine. In the USA it tended to cruise the highways in luxurious versions, and as a coupé it still delights the eye to this day.

A real rarity.

Even though most “Stroke 8”s conquered first Europe and then the African continent as modestly powered taxis, thanks to their indestructible longevity; this precursor to the E-Class was not only on the roads as the humble 200 D, scarcely more powerful 220 D or more spirited 240 D – after the model facelift in 1973 it also sported a three-litre, five-cylinder engine. Especially in the USA, the more powerful 250, 280 and particularly the 280 E proved very popular. The top model of the Mercedes-Benz 280 E is now a real rarity, and quite simply the perfect way to enjoy a “Stroke 8”. The two “Stroke 8” top models launched in 1972 have a twin bumper at the front and a rear bumper extending forward to the wheel arch.

In Germany most of the “Stroke 8” models sold were the 200, 200 D and 220 D, but there was also the top model, the Mercedes-Benz 280 E, with 136 kW/185 hp.

In Germany most of the “Stroke 8” models sold were the 200, 200 D and 220 D, but there was also the top model, the Mercedes-Benz 280 E, with 136 kW/185 hp.

The development focus for the “Stroke 8” was not only on comfort and efficiency, but also on safety. In this respect the precursor to today’s Mercedes-Benz E-Class set new standards in its time.

The development focus for the “Stroke 8” was not only on comfort and efficiency, but also on safety. In this respect the precursor to today’s Mercedes-Benz E-Class set new standards in its time.

Taking the “Stroke 8” into the hearts.

It is not only teachers, for example, financing their studies with endless, tedious and sleep-deprived night shifts as taxi drivers, who took the “Stroke 8” into their hearts. Most of them did their rounds almost around the clock in careworn, high-mileage veterans with a less than charismatic ivory paint finish, which were technically completely imperturbable and comparatively inexpensive to repair. When the “Stroke 8” is mentioned, many taxi-drivers still fall silent and quietly remember their days as students, or their first petting sessions in their father’s family car. The Mercedes-Benz W 114 (six-cylinder) and W 115 (four- and five-cylinder) series-produced from 1968 to 1976 was the first high-volume model by Mercedes-Benz.

A real revolution.

With sales of just under two million units, the Stuttgart-based company sold more “Stroke 8”s than all other Mercedes-Benz models put together previously. The example with the highest documented mileage is a Greek 240 D taxi which notched up an unbelievable 4.6 million kilometres between 1976 and 2004, and easily earned its place in the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Unsurprisingly, the two millionth Mercedes-Benz passenger car since 1946 was a 220 D from the W 115 series, which left the production line in Sindelfingen on 9 May, 1968. The design was a real revolution when it premiered in January 1968.

No sign of the exalted features reminiscent of American highway cruisers which were exhibited by the preceding model, the “Tailfin Mercedes”. The lines of the “Stroke 8” jointly designed by Paul Bracq and Friedrich Geiger were unspectacular, decidedly practical and by no means as filigree as in the W 100, W 108 or W 111 series. At the time the 4.68-metre long “Stroke 8” was a generously dimensioned executive class model with room for five occupants, a great deal of luggage and a usually modestly powered engine.

The 1970s was a more colourful era than the present day, and the range of paint finishes for the W 114/W 115 series reflected this.

The 1970s was a more colourful era than the present day, and the range of paint finishes for the W 114/W 115 series reflected this.

Real driving pleasure only to be had at the wheel.

But whether the taxi-inclined diesel models developing between 55 and a still modest 65 hp, or the petrol models 230.4, 230.6 or 250 capable of up to 130 hp – real driving pleasure was only to be had at the wheel of the top model, the 280 E, which delivered a lively 136 kW/185 hp thanks to Bosch petrol injection and two overhead camshafts. And this was particularly dynamic in its rare manual gearshift version. Unlike in most of the W 114/115 series models, the four-speed gearshift was then positioned on the centre console between the driver and front passenger. Most of the “Stroke 8”s in Europe were equipped with an automatic transmission whose gears were shifted at the steering column.

The list of optional equipment.

In their enthusiasm for the 185 hp output of the top engine variant, most customers chose freely from the list of optional equipment. Many equipped their Mercedes-Benz 280 E with features such as power steering, a Blaupunkt radio with electric aerial, tinted glass or even power windows, air conditioning, central locking, front and rear head restraints and leather seats. In the mid-70s this quickly increased the price of a Mercedes-Benz 280 E to well over 30,000 German marks. In contrast, the plain, basic model of the Mercedes-Benz 200 cost just a little over 13,000 marks.


The large window areas provided good visibility and a good view for the occupants and onlookers.

The large window areas provided good visibility and a good view for the occupants and onlookers.


The maximum speed of the top Mercedes-Benz 280 E model in the W 114 series was 200 km/h.

The maximum speed of the top Mercedes-Benz 280 E model in the W 114 series was 200 km/h.

Truly impressive.

Even by today’s standards, the six-cylinder in-line engine with a displacement of 2.8 litres was truly impressive. Featuring petrol injection, it was free-revving, powerful and, if required, allowed lazy gearshifting. The maximum speed was an impressive 200 km/h. Likewise impressive was the efficiency, as 12.5 litres of premium fuel per 100 kilometres was a superb figure in the early 1970s. At the same time, thanks to its Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection system, the 1.5-tonne saloon had a charismatic engine note matched only by the luxury Mercedes-Benz models when revving through the individual gears. Eventually the 2.8-litre engine was also installed in the cool “Stroke 8” Coupé and in the luxury S-Class, SL and SLC models. Lateral support was a concept for the far-off automotive future on the blue artificial leather seats. At least front seat occupants had the benefit of seat belts, though head restraints in the front and rear were only available as optional equipment.

As gentle as committed.

The Mercedes-Benz 280 E glided purposefully into bends like a frigate, and negotiated them as calmly as a 60 hp diesel taxi stoically absolved millions of day-to-day kilometres. The front suspension for the first time featured maintenance-free double wishbones, while a more comfortable diagonal swing axle at the rear ensured a feel-good atmosphere. When the “Stroke 8” is mentioned, it is not always an ivory-coloured 220 D that comes to mind. The top model of the Mercedes-Benz 280 E was the ultimate in perfection. But for those who wanted even more stylishness, the “million-seller” was also available with a 65-centimetre longer wheelbase, a version popular with embassies and governments as a back-up vehicle for their fleet of armoured Mercedes-Benz 600 or S-Class cars.

While those looking for more elegance were hardly likely to dream of a taxi trip when catching sight of the coupé presented in October 1968. The elegant two-door model had the same wheelbase as the saloons, but was 45 millimetres lower. The vacuum-locked backrests of the front seats were automatically released when the doors were opened, allowing good access to the bench seat in the rear.