Buyers Guide Economy Class – The W115 220, 220D, 230, 240D & 300D U.S. Market Sedans • 1967-1976

Richard Simonds, Data Daniel Stahl
W115 12_0.jpgPositioned at the affordable end of the popular ‘New Generation’ series, these no-nonsense Mercedes-Benz models majored in safety, reliability, and economy


Buyers Guide

Economy Class – The W115 220, 220D, 230, 240D & 300D U.S. Market Sedans • 1967-1976

Article Richard Simonds

Data Tables Daniel Stahl

Images Daimler Archives


First introduced in late 1967 to anchor the affordable end of the New Generation range, the W115 200 and 220 sedans were quickly recognized as an excellent value proposition by the car-buying public. These carefully designed and well-built sedans benefited from the same thoroughly engineered approach to quality and safety that made the more luxurious W114 series so popular.

Substantially the same as their more expensive siblings, the W115 models were equipped with simple, durable interiors and more economical 4-cylinder gasoline and 4- and 5-cylinder diesel engines than their 6-cylinder gasoline W114 counterparts (for more on the W114 series, see The Star March-April 2020).  As such, the W115s appealed to astute family buyers and became the overwhelming choice for European taxi drivers – especially the diesel 200D and 220D. Above the New Generation series sat the luxurious Mercedes-Benz W108 and W109 with their unique chassis and body styles – the equivalent of today’s S-Class.

The New Generation series stressed safety over performance.  All models came standard with a collapsible steering column, padded steering-wheel hub, padded instrument panel with deformable soft knobs, a soft ignition key, and breakaway rearview mirror.  The W114-W115 were the first serially produced Mercedes-Benz passenger car ranges to offer a new semi-trailing arm axle, which improved handling by limiting camber changes when cornering and braking at the same time. Standard four-wheel disc brakes with power assist added safety with excellent stopping distances. 

In keeping with its more utilitarian brief, the W115 had a limited options list, including an automatic transmission, power steering, and a sunroof. Both the W114 and W115 had a single headlamp in each squared-off fender rather than the stacked headlights and rounded sheet metal of the W108/W109 vehicles.


The engines in the W115 models were similar to their predecessors in the W110 series, but with minor mechanical improvements and new engine numbers. As a response to the widespread fuel shortages of the international crisis that began in 1973, Mercedes-Benz lowered the compression ratio of gasoline engines to 8.0:1 to allow the use of regular fuel. However, this modification affected mileage and performance. Only the larger displacement W115 gasoline- and diesel-engined models were sold in the United States. The W115’s standard 4-speed manual transmission was paired with a clutch of a new design with a diaphragm spring replacing the nine pressure springs of the previous design. The W115s shared the 108.3-inch wheelbase of the W114 sedans, except for the eight-seat long-wheelbase commercial passenger version that was introduced in 1968 (see Starry Eyed, page 104).

 Reasons to buy a W115

“Built like a tank” is the phrase often used to describe the W115s; abundant safety features make them durable (if they haven’t been exposed to salt).

Reliability is a major attraction of automobiles from this era; Mercedes-Benz used top-quality components.

The newly designed suspension improved handling, steering and stopping, making W115s fine road cars.

Safety was prioritized, making the W115 a superb family car rather than a high-performance sports sedan. It is a great choice for a first-time driver.

Styling is similar across the full price range; a W114/W115 looked much like a top-end Mercedes-Benz.

These models are in the collectible-classic range but are affordable and comparatively reasonable to maintain.

The 200, 220, and 230 can use unleaded gasoline without additives; the 200D, 220D, 240D and 300D are able to use contemporary diesel fuel.

Reasons not to buy a W115

Rust can be a deal breaker for any classic car, especially for a sedan without the price advantage of a coupe or sports model; structural rust is the biggest threat, but any rust is a red flag.

Lack of maintenance (regular fluid changes – gas, oil, lubrication, coolant, brake system) is a deal-breaker for any classic Mercedes-Benz, but particularly a sedan with insufficient value to justify a major investment in time and money; get maintenance records for as far back as possible.

Engine condition (compression, oil leaks, coolant leaks, fuel system carburetors or injection) should be tested and found to be acceptable without repair, or the cost to fix will exceed the value; an engine rebuild is in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, carburetors around $300-plus each if someone can be found to rebuild them, fuel injection system $3,000-plus.

Acceleration is leisurely by modern standards, though W115s will keep up with traffic. Engines buzz at highway speeds because of gearing used in the 1960s and 1970s; the short-stroke engines are able to handle this and are quite durable, but to contemporary ears, the engines sound like they need overdrive gearing.

Fuel economy is likely to be in the 12–18 miles per gallon range using premium gasoline and in the 24–30 miles per gallon range with the diesel engines.


Chassis and exterior: Rust – structural components, subframe mounts for the engine and rear suspension, floors, fenders, trunk, back window and wheel wells are the places to check; structural rust in these unit-bodies means you should walk away (or buy it as a parts car for another restoration). Missing body parts, including exterior and interior trim are much less likely to be available from Daimler AG or after-market suppliers, so hunt for a complete car. Rubber seals around windows and doors can be replaced, but the process is labor-intensive; cheap ones are unlikely to fit properly. From 1974, all U.S. W115s (as well as other models) were equipped with 5-mph extended crash-protection bumpers.

Interior: Interior components such as rubber mats, carpeting, dash covering, headliner and trim elements can be replaced or refinished, but at a cost that may not be justified. Heaters, fans, fan-motor bushings and switches can be sourced, but are time-consuming to replace because of inaccessible locations under the dash, in the console, and in the doors. Five-digit odometers don’t indicate if they’ve traveled 100,000, 200,000, or more miles unless you have complete service records from new. Interiors on the 1972 to 1976 models were not as high in quality as in earlier cars. Check for cracked and glazed upholstery and the condition of carpeting and door panels. Regular care of upholstery can make a huge difference for any model; MB-Tex is more durable than leather but still requires periodic application of vinyl conditioner.

Engine: Power unit condition, especially oil consumption, leaking coolant and the condition of the fuel system can indicate problems that will be expensive to repair. Emissions controls on 1975 and 1976 models make them far more challenging to drive smoothly and to keep running well; if well-sorted, they may be acceptable. This is an exception to the general rule of buying the last few years in a model’s history. Models with California emissions equipment are the most frustrating to sort out.

Fuel system (carburetors or fuel injection): Rebuilding carburetors requires skill and may need to be done as over-heating can warp carburetor bodies and poor adjustments can lead to drivability problems. A close reading of service manuals and a willingness to tackle any job can keep your baby running smoothly for years to come. Carburetors and carburetor kits are becoming more difficult to source but are still available.

Suspension linkages: Look for suspension wear and evidence of regular lubrication of components; dry lubricant can become rigid and literally break lower control arms. Suspension bushings get dry and lead to clunking noises and poor handling; this is not expensive to replace, but it needs to be considered.

History: Maintaining a W115 can be a reasonable task for those with basic mechanical knowledge. The need to adjust valves, replace points, plugs and condensers, change oil and filters, and carry out basic transmission service makes W115s good candidates for the do-it-yourself owner. Sedans especially reach a point where they are just “old cars” and may have lots of missed or deferred maintenance; some of this will show in condition, but a multitude of risks can remain hidden.


Find the cleanest vehicle in the best condition possible, with service records from new – or at least from the last 10-plus years. Always drive the car to check engine condition and transmission operation, listening for bearing noises in transmission, differential and axles, checking handling, braking and controls such as heater, wipers, window regulators and window channels. These are all things you will have to live with when you own it.

Fifty-two years after the model range was first introduced, many W115s are still going strong. They are not fast, but are comfortable, safe and reliable vehicles in modern traffic. As such, a W115 can make an excellent and affordable choice as a vintage Mercedes-Benz for both the enthusiast and the new driver. In fact, the entire W115 range might be considered the very definition of the term “affordable classic.”


Global W115 Chronology

1968    January         

W115 range is presented in Germany comprising models 200, 200D, 220, 220D

1968    January         

W115 models 220 and 220D go on sale in the U.S.

1968    December     

Eight-seat, long-wheelbase model introduced for taxi, airport, and transportation services

1972    April  

Interior revisions include new seat vinyl and new gear-shift lever

1973    March

Interior revisions include new padded steering wheel

1973    September   

Major exterior updates; 240D replaces 220D in U.S.; four-cylinder 230 replaces 220

1974    July    

240D 3.0 introduced in Europe; 300D for sale in the U.S. with high trim level: a/c, power windows

1976    November-December         

End of production of 220D, 240D, 300D, 230


Global Production

200 Sedan      288,785

200D Sedan   339,927

220 Sedan     128,732

220D Sedan  420,070

230 Sedan      87,785

240D Sedan  131,319

300D Sedan    53,690

TOTAL        1,450,308


Specifications: Mercedes-Benz W115 Sedans • U.S Market Models • 1967-1976

MODEL            YEARS         CHASSIS                   ENGINE                 HORSEPOWER       TORQUE          

220 Sedan      1967-1972       115.010          2.2L I-4 OHC  115.920            116/110          142/127         

220D Sedan   1967-1972       115.110           2.2L I-4 OHC  615.912                 65                  96       

220 Sedan           1973           115.010           2.2L I-4 OHC  115.920                 85                 124     

220D Sedan         1973           115.110           2.2L I-4 OHC  615.912                 57                  88      

230 Sedan      1973-1976       115.017           2.3L I-4 OHC  115.951            95/93/85         128/125/122  

240D Sedan    1973-1976       115.117           2.4L I-4 OHC  616.916                 62                 97       

300D Sedan    1974-1976       115.114           3.0L I-5 OHC  617.910                  77                 115   


Specifications: Mercedes-Benz W115 Sedans • U.S Market Models • 1967-1976



220 Sedan      4M-4A        4.08/3.92       14 sec         104              19 

220D Sedan   4M-4A            3.92            28 sec           84              28

220 Sedan      4M-4A       4.08/3.92        14 sec         104              19 

220D Sedan   4M-4A          3.92              28 sec           84              28

230 Sedan            4A        3.69/3.92        14 sec         106              20

240D Sedan   4M-4A          3.69               25 sec          86              25

300D Sedan          4A         3.46               21 sec          92               22

Note I: The horsepower and torque figures of models produced before 1973 were given in SAE Gross ratings, measured without ancillary components, while models produced from 1973 were given in SAE Net ratings, measured with all standard ancillary components in normal operation.

Note II: W115 200 and 200D models are not listed; the lowest-powered sedans in the W115 range, these vehicles were not officially imported into the United States by Mercedes-Benz.



W115 240D 1973-1976


W115 220 • 1967-1973


W115 240D • 1973-1976


W115 220D • 1967-1973


The W115 was engineered for safety and durability, combining unibody construction with a passenger safety cell and conical pin safety door locks.

The W115 included head and neck restraints and 3-point seatbelts.


The W115 included improved soft touch controls and anti-glare instruments and a safety steering wheel


The multi-function control stalk was an additional feature of the W115.


The re-profiled front roof pillars of the W115 kept the side windows clean.


Beginning in 1974, the W115 offered the world’s first five-cylinder diesel engine.


The spartan interior of the W115 allowed it to be placed at the entry level of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, including commercial and taxi use.


The new rear suspension of the W115 improved handling.