Solid, practical, stylish and rare – does the Mercedes W114/ W115 fit the classic bill?
‘Plenty of German taxis served as testament to their quality’
Replacing the ‘Fintail’ Mercedes was never going to be easy for Mercedes-Benz, but while these wonderful barges looked lovely, the origins of their styling was rooted firmly in the 1950s. The job of bringing them up to date fell to designer Paul Bracq, who came up with a neat design for the new model, dubbed W115 (for the four-cylinder cars) and W114 (for the six-cylinders).
Launched in 1968, the range retained the stacked headlamp styling that buyers loved but there was an all-new chassis and revised rear suspension, ditching the previous swing axles for semitrailing arms. It could be ordered as a saloon or coupé, and while the engine range would become a bit baffling – the 2.5-litre 250 model would later gain a larger 2.8 motor, but keep the 250 badge – the solidity of the engineering underpinning the W114/W115 was never in doubt. Plenty of stellar-mileage German taxis have served as testament to their robust build quality and impressive longevity, and almost two million examples had been made by the time the range was replaced by the W123 in 1976.
Not all examples stood the test of time so be wary of corrosion, but find the £10,000plus needed for a sound one and you’re in for a typically Germanic treat. That interior might be on the austere side, and equipment levels are modest unless the first buyer got busy with the options list, but it’s spacious, comfortable and extremely durable. Throw in a decent-sized boot and you’ve the recipe for an extremely practical family classic.
Don’t be put off by the perceived lack of excitement from the driving experience. B-road thrill-seekers should probably look elsewhere, but if you’re the sort of owner who appreciates the three-pointed star’s quality engineering, then you won’t be disappointed.