Buyers Guide 1967-1976 W114 Sedans and Coupes – 230, 250, and 280 models

Richard Simonds











The 1967-1976 “New Generation” 230, 250, and 280 W114 Sedans and Coupes
Published in The Star March-April 2014

Article Richard Simonds
Images courtesy Daimler Archives

The sedans and coupes built on the W114 chassis from 1967 to 1976 are now considered by enthusiasts to be among the affordable Mercedes-Benz classics. In fact, the 250C coupe was featured in The Star article “Buying a Classic on a Budget” (May-June 2013, pp. 58-62). This article offers detail and specifications that we always provide in a Buyers Guide for the full line of W114 chassis models that were imported by Daimler-Benz for sale in North America.    
We have omitted the W114 models that were sold only in Europe, including the 1968-1972 250C and 250CE coupes with the M114 engine, the 1971-1976 280CE coupe with the M110 engine, and the 1973-1976 230/6 sedan with the M114 engine that was built for European markets in response to demands for better fuel efficiency after the 1973 fuel crisis. It appears that the few models in this range came to the United States as gray-market cars.


With the introduction of the 1968 230 sedan on the completely new W114 chassis in September 1967, Mercedes-Benz began using the term “New Generation” to refer to these cars as well as the previously introduced and more expensive W108s and W109s with which they shared the same body profile and styling cues. With the introduction of the W115 at a lower price point a month later, for the first time Mercedes-Benz had models across the price range, from taxi cab to luxury car with recognizably similar styling. The W114 series is also known as the “/8” (pronounced slash 8 in the U.S., stroke 8 in the U.K., and strich acht in Germany) from the suffix on their VIN number indicating the official first model year. The emphasis on the truly new-generation W114s was safety over performance. They came with a collapsible steering column, padded steering wheel hub, padded instrument panel with softer knobs, a soft ignition key, breakaway rear mirror, and seatback locks. The biggest chassis improvement on the W114 was the addition of a semi-trailing arm on the rear suspension, which improved handling by limiting camber changes when cornering and braking at the same time.

The W114 chassis offered a new hydro-pneumatic leveling device, an automatic transmission, power steering, a sun roof, leather, and air-conditioning as options. One feature of the W114 and W115 models is that they had a single headlamp in each fender rather than stacked headlamps that appeared in the top-end cars. The fenders above the headlamps were more squared as compared with the rounded tops of the W108/W109 series. Yet the body profiles looked very much the same.

The engines were mostly the same as on the finback models (W111s) of the same era. The 230 used the M180 engine, the 250 had the M114 and M130 engines, and the 280 featured the M110 twin-cam engine. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard and came with a newly designed clutch with a diaphragm spring rather than nine pressure springs. Most cars in the American market were outfitted with automatic transmissions. All had four-wheel disc brakes with power assist. Both sedans and coupes ran on a 108.3-inch wheelbase, though in October 1968 a long-wheelbase version available on special order was introduced that seated eight passengers on a 133.86-inch wheelbase.

The 250C and 280C coupes had a more sedan-like body (squarer top with a pillarless style) compared with the W111 coupes. Further, they were far less expensive than the 280SE and 280SE 3.5 coupes, yet they allowed an owner an opportunity to have a Mercedes-Benz coupe – some with a sunroof. There were no convertibles offered in the W114 or W115 chassis.

The most collectible of the W114 vehicles are the coupes, though they are virtually identical to the sedans in terms of mechanical features and drivability. (A coupe always trumps a sedan within the Mercedes collector community with very few exceptions: The 280SE 6.3, the 600 Grand Limousines, and the 450SEL 6.9 are three of them.)

Reasons to buy a W114


  • “Built like a tank” is often used to describe them; abundant safety features make them particularly durable (if they haven’t been exposed to salt)
  • Reliability is a major feature of cars from this era; Mercedes-Benz used top-quality components
  • Handling, steering, stopping, improved suspension designs made them fine road machines
  • Safety was a priority over performance and this makes them superb family conveyances rather than a car you would take to the track
  • The styling of these 1960s-1970s models is similar across the full price range, so that a W114 looked much like a top-end Mercedes-Benz
  • These are in the collectible classic range that can be affordable and comparatively reasonable to maintain
  • All models can run on unleaded gasoline without additives

Reasons not to buy a W114

  • Despite improved protection on the W114, rust can be a deal breaker on a sedan that will never have the value a high-end coupe or a sports model; structural rust is the biggest threat, but any rust is a red flag
  • Lack of maintenance (e.g. regular fluid changes – gas, oil, lubrication, coolant, brake system) is another deal breaker on a sedan that doesn’t justify a major investment of time and money to rebuild major components; get maintenance records from as far back as possible
  • Engine condition (compression, oil or coolant leaks, fuel system carburetors or injection) should be examined, tested, and found working or the cost to fix will exceed the value; an engine rebuild is in the $8,000 to $12,000 range, carburetors around $300-plus  each, and a fuel-injection system can cost more than $2,000
  • Acceleration is leisurely by modern standards, though a W114 will keep up with traffic
  • The engine is buzzy at high speeds because of gearing typical of the period; the short-stroke engines are able to handle this and are quite durable, but for potential purchasers used to contemporary cars, the engines sound like they need overdrive gearing
  • Fuel economy is likely to be 12–18 mpg using premium gasoline



  • Rust, rust, rust: Structural components, sub-frame mounts for the engine and rear suspension, floors, fenders, trunk, back window, wheel wells are the places to check. Structural rust in the unit-body can make the car unrestorable
  •  Engine condition, particularly oil consumption, leaking coolant and condition of the fuel system can indicate major problems that will be expensive to repair
  • Suspension wear: Especially check for regular lubrication on all suspension components as dry lubricant can become like cement and literally break lower control arms
  • Suspension bushings get dry and allow clunking sounds and poor handling; replacements are likely to be required
  • Carburetors may need to be rebuilt as over-heating can warp carburetor bodies and poor adjustments can lead to drivability problems. With a good service manual and some care, the job can be managed by a non-professional
  • Carburetors and carburetor kits are becoming more difficult to source, but are still available
  • Rubber seals around windows and doors can be replaced, but the work is labor-intensive
  • Heaters, fans, fan-motor bushings, and switches can be sourced, but can be very time-consuming to replace because of  difficult accessibility of items under the dash
  • Maintenance of these cars can be managed by someone with a basic knowledge of adjusting valves, replacing points, plugs, and condensers, changing oil and filters, and performing basic transmission services; this makes them good candidates for the do-It-yourself owner
  • Missing body parts including exterior and interior trim are less likely to be available from Daimler AG or after-market suppliers, so look for a complete car
  • Interior pieces, such as carpeting, dash covering, headliner, and wood trim can be purchased or refinished, but at a cost that may not be justified by the value of the car
  • Odometers (with only five digits) won’t indicate true total mileage. The car may have 100,000, 200,000, or more miles; only complete service records can confirm the real number
  • Sedans in particular can reach a point where they are just “old cars” if maintenance has been missed or deferred; some of this will be obvious by the condition of the car, but  good service records are the only real insurance against hidden problems that can surface over time

W114 Buying Tips

  • Try to find the cleanest vehicle in the best condition you can, preferably with service records from new or at least from the last 10-plus years
  • Emissions controls on 1975 and 1976 models make them far more challenging to drive smoothly and maintain in good running condition; if well sorted, the car may be okay. This is one of the exceptions to buying the last few years in a model’s history – models with California emissions are the most frustrating
  • Always drive the car to check operation, engine condition, transmission operation, bearing noises in transmission, differential, and axles, handling, braking, and controls such as heater, wipers, window regulators, window channels, etc. – all the things you will have to live with while you own it
  • Interiors on the 1972 to 1976 models were not as high quality as in the earlier years, so check for cracking and glazing of the upholstery, condition of the carpeting, and door panels; regular care of the upholstery can make a huge difference in condition regardless of year model
  • Check for rubber seals around doors and windows and assume replacement may be needed
  • The 280E sedan is desirable because it had fuel injection to better manage emissions controls
  • The 280C coupe had the extended, crash-protection bumpers starting in 1974 and received alloy wheels, replacing the older steel wheels with painted wheels



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