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Five decades of Mercedes-Benz W114/115 “Stroke 8s”

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The car many of us think of when we picture a Mercedes-Benz Stroke 8: a yellow, diesel-powered 240D (of the W115 range). This one is a 1974 with the five-cylinder 3-liter engine. Photos courtesy of Daimler AG.

It’s been 50 years since the 1968 introduction of the Mercedes-Benz W114 and W115 series automobiles that ushered in the company’s first all-new, postwar, passenger-car chassis.

This series is probably best known these days, however, for its ironclad durability. A W115 currently holds the high-mileage record for a Mercedes-Benz automobile: Greek taxi driver Gregarious Sachinidis piled 2.85-million miles on his 1976 240D before the car was retired to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

1976 Mercedes-Benz 240 D

The world-record holder: Gregorios Sachinidis and his 1976 Mercedes-Benz 240 D covered more than 4.6-million kilometres (or 2.85-million miles).

Mercedes cognoscenti refer to this series as “Stroke 8” or (“Strich Acht” in German) as a nod to the /8 that was part of the model designation on the data tag. The 114/115 numerical designations help identify the types of engines used in the cars: The 114s had six cylinders, while the 115s ran four and five cylinders.

Over its production run, the 114’s gasoline six-cylinders ranged in displacement from 2.3-2.8 liters (230, 250, 280 sedans; 250C and 280C coupes). The coupes–which have a C after their model number–were all six-cylinder powered and part of the 114 range. An “E” suffix denoted the rare fuel-injection option on coupes and sedans. Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection first appeared on the 250 CE model–the first time it was ever used in a Mercedes-Benz production car.

1968 Mercedes-Benz 230

A 1968 Mercedes-Benz 230 with Bilux (twin-filament) headlamps. U.S.-bound cars were equipped with less glamorous conventional, round sealed beam lights over amber turn-signal lenses.

The more utilitarian 115s, meanwhile, were powered by gas and diesel inline four-cylinder engines, displacing between 2.0 and 2.4 liters (200/200D, 220/220D, 230.4, 240D). In 1973, a diesel inline five cylinder was also offered in the W115.

Transmission options included four-speed manuals and automatics for all body styles except the inline-five diesels, which were automatic only. A five-speed manual was a rare option on coupes and few made it to the U.S., so a five-speed coupe with fuel injection would be a very desirable car today.

Mercedes-Benz 114 series coupe

The Stroke 8 coupes brought sporty elegance to the line. All were powered by gasoline sixes and models included the 250C, 250CE, 280C, and 280CE. (E denotes fuel injection.)

Stroke 8s rode on unequal length A arms with coils and ball joints up front, which replaced earlier kingpin arrangements. The rear, too, was independent: A subframe bolted to the body served as the attachment point for the differential as well as the pivot points for the rear trailing arms. The Stroke 8s also boasted modern four-wheel disc brakes.

By the end of its run in 1976, more than 1.9-million 115/114 sedans and 67,000 114 coupes were built. (A subtle styling change was made to the front end in 1974, and 5-mph bumpers appeared on U.S.-market cars that same year.) These cars are still plentiful almost everywhere but the challenge is finding one that has been properly maintained over its entire lifespan and kept in rust-free condition.

Mercedes-Benz Series 114

A first-generation anti-lock braking system was tested on 1970 Mercedes-Benz Stroke 8 coupés, pictured here on the test track in Untertürkheim. ABS wouldn’t make its production premiere until 1978, on the W 116 S-Class.

A really interesting find today would be a Stroke 8 professional car assembled by one of the European coachbuilders like Binz, Miesen, Pollman, or Rappold. Variations included ambulances, station wagons, pickups, hearses, and limousines.

Binz pickup Binz station wagon Miesen ambnulance 1974 Mercedes-Benz 240 D 3.0 Mercedes-Benz 250 Mercedes-Benz 280 E/280 CE Mercedes-Benz 280 CE Frankfurt International Motor Show in 1973. Mercedes-Benz 230.6 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 CE Mercedes-Benz 280 E with D-Jetronic injection system 1967 Mercedes-Benz 200 D 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 Mercedes-Benz 250 1967 Mercedes-Benz 200 D taxi Mercedes-Benz 114 series Mercedes-Benz 114 series Mercedes-Benz 200 Mercedes-Benz 220