Buyers Guide: A Safe Bet – The W114 230, 250 & 280 Sedans & Coupes • 1967– 1976

Richard Simonds, Data Daniel Stahl
W114 02.jpgThe handsome mid-market models of the Mercedes-Benz ’New Generation’
range reset the standards for safety, ergonomics, handling and reliability


Buyers Guide: A Safe Bet – The W114 230, 250 & 280 Sedans & Coupes • 1967– 1976

The handsome mid-market models of the Mercedes-Benz ’New Generation’
range reset the standards for safety, ergonomics, handling and reliability

Article Richards Simonds Data Tables Daniel Stahl

Images Daimler Archives


The W114 sedans and coupes can be a smart choice for the Mercedes-Benz enthusiast looking for an affordable classic. This article updates the March-April 2014 Buyers Guide for U.S.-market W114 models. (For the 250C coupe, see the May-June 2013 issue of The Star, pp. 58–62, “Buying a Classic on a Budget.”) Not included are European models, such as the 1968–1972 250C and 250CE coupes (M114 engine) and the 1971–1976 280CE (M110 engine), or the 1973-1976 230/6 with the more frugal M114 engine, released in response to the 1973 global fuel crisis. The few of these models that came to the United States were doubtless bought on the gray market.

Launched in September 1967, the 230 sedan anchored the mid-priced range of the New Generation series; the less-costly W115 was introduced three months later. While all New Generation cars has similar bodies, they offered buyers both basic (W115), and mid-range (W114) models and prices. Above the New Generation sat the luxurious W108 and W109 models with their unique chassis and body styles – the equivalent of today’s S-Class.

 The New Generation range 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, breakaway rear mirror and seatback locks. The W114 was the first serially produced Mercedes-Benz passenger car built with a new carefully researched semi-trailing arm axle, which improved handling by limiting camber changes when cornering and braking at the same time. 


The W114 range offered new hydropneumatic leveling, an automatic transmission and power steering, as well as a sunroof, leather and air-conditioning as options. Both the W114 and W115 models had a single headlamp in each squared-off fender rather than the stacked headlights and rounded sheet metal of the W108/W109 vehicles. The W115 New Generation models will be the subject of a dedicated Buyers Guide to appear in the May-June 2020 issue of The Star.



Engines used in the W114 range were mostly the same as offered on the W111 Finbacks of the same era. The W114 230 used the M180 engine, the 250 was supplied with either the M114 or M130 unit, and 280 models came with the M110 twin-cam engine.  The standard 4-speed manual transmission was paired with a newly designed clutch with a diaphragm spring replacing the nine pressure springs of the previous clutch. Most American- market W114s came with automatic transmissions. All had 4-wheel disc brakes with power assist. All sedans and coupes ran on a 108.3-inch wheelbase except for the 133.86-inch long-wheelbase eight passenger 230 sedan, available in October 1968. 

The 250C and 280C coupes had a more sedan-like body with a squared-off pillarless roof compared with the W111. These mid-range coupes offered a far less costly way to own a sporty Mercedes-Benz coupe – which could even be optioned with a sunroof – than the 280SE and 280SE 3.5 two-door models. No W114 or W115 convertibles were offered. Although virtually identical to the sedans for mechanical features and drivability, the coupes are the most collectible W114 vehicles. A coupe trumps a sedan in the collector market with very few exceptions, such as the 300SEL 6.3, the 600 Grand Limousine  and the 450SEL 6.9 sedan.


Reasons to buy a W114

“Built like a tank” is the phrase often used to describe the W114s; abundant safety features make them very 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 upgraded suspension improved handling, steering and stopping, making W114s fine road machines.

Safety was prioritized over performance, making W114s superb family cars rather than a sport sedan to take to the track; it also makes them a great choice for a first-time driver.

The styling of these models from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s is similar across the full price range; a W114/W115 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

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 also 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 going 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, 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 W114s will keep up with traffic. Highway speeds will generate engine buzz because of gearing used in the period; 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 mpg range using premium gasoline.



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. w114s (as well as other models) were equipped with 5-mph extended crash-protection bumpers. Also in 1974, alloy wheels replaced steel wheels with painted wheel covers on the 280C Coupe.

Interior: Components such as carpeting, dash covering, headliner and wood trim 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 W114 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 W114s 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.



W114 280 1972-1976



PRODUCTION BEGINS:                                                         

1967    July                 250 Sedan • M114 I-6 engine                                

1967    September      230 Sedan • M180 I-6 engine                   

1969    July                 250C Coupe • M130 I-6 engine (U.S.)                    

1970    March             250 Sedan • M130 I-6 engine                                

1971    October          280 Sedan • M110 I-6 engine                    

1971    December      280C Coupe • M110 I-6 engine      


1972    May                 250 Sedan • M114 I-6 engine

1976    June                250C Coupe • M130 I-6 engine (U.S.)

1976    August            280C Coupe • M110 I-6 engine

1976    July                 250 Sedan • M130 I-6 engine


1976    September     280 Sedan • M110 I-6 engine

1976    November      230 Sedan • M180 I-6 engine



Production Totals

230 Sedan                                                                  221,783

250 Sedan (Type I: 1967-1972 • 2.5L I-6)                     78,303

250C Coupe                                                                 11,768

250 Sedan (Type II: 1970-1976 • 2.8L I-6)                    34,061

280 Sedan                                                                    44,537

280C Coupe                                                                 13,151

TOTAL                                                                        403,603


Specifications: Mercedes-Benz W114 Sedans & Coupes • U.S Market Models • 1967-1976


230 Sedan      1967-1976       114.015           2.3L I-6 OHC 180.954 135      145     

250 Sedan 1    1967-1972       114.010           2.5L I-6 OHC 114.920 146      181     

250C Coupe    1969-1976       114.023           2.8L I-6 OHC 130.923 157      181     

250 Sedan 2   1970-1976       114.011           2.8L I-6 OHC 130.923 157      181     

280 Sedan      1972-1976       114.060           2.8L I-6DOHC 110.921            130 to 120 3   150 to 143     

280C Coupe    1972-1976       114.073           2.8L I-6 DOHC 110.921           130 to 120 3   150 to 143 3  

1 250 Sedan Type I 1967-1972 with 2.5L I-6 engine. 

2 250 Sedan Type II 1970-1976 with 2.8L I-6 engine.

3 Horsepower and torque figures given in SAE Net.


Specifications: Mercedes-Benz W114 Sedans & Coupes • U.S Market Models • 1967-1976


230 Sedan      1967-1976       4M-4A 4.08             14 sec 102      21

250 Sedan      1967-1972       4M-4A 4.08             13 sec 112      18

250C Coupe   1969-1976       4M-4A 3.92/3.69     13 sec 112      18 

250 Sedan      1970-1976       4M-4A 3.92             12 sec 118      18

280 Sedan      1972-1976       4M-4A 3.69             13 sec 118      18

280C Coupe            1972-1976          4M-4A 3.69                       13 sec 118      18




W114 230 1967-1976


W114 250C 1969-1976


The W114 range was created with an emphasis on safety, combining unibody construction with crumple zones and a passenger safety cell 



a collapsible steering column


available headlight-cleaning system


as well as seats with head and neck restraints


3-point seatbelts


New front (6) and rear (7) suspension greatly improved handling.



The high-quality interior was carefully designed to set a new standard for safety and ergonomics.


An improved 4-spoke safety steering wheel (10) became standard in 1972.