And here came the touch of perfection: the formal-conventional “fintails” of the W 111/W 112 were dropped, so the shape of the car gained homogeneity and refinement. The year is 1965, time for the Mercedes W 108 to show how perfection looks like.
Probably, it is the only case in the history of the Mercedes-Benz design when some styling cues were carried-on visually unaltered from a former generation (the front end of the W 111/W 112, to the W 108/W 109) and some other details were carried futher to a next generation of cars, slightly modified (the style of the rear end of the W 108/W 109, to the W 114/W 115). However, it would be wrong to consider the W 108/W 109 series as a facelift (or a back-facelift?) of the W 111/W 112, since their glasshuoses have a different design and, in fact, none of their exterior body parts are 100% identical (well, excepting the headlamps!). The Mercedes W 111 “Fintail” and the W 108 sedan series were produced in parallel for a while, between 1965 and 1968. The production of the rather slow selling W 112 ended in 1965, so the Mercedes W 108/W 109 came to take further its idea, of an upper model line.
In fact the Mercedes W 108/W 109s were somewhat longer, larger and lower than the W 111/W 112s. Also, the standard wheels for W 108 had 14 inch rims (instead of the 13 inch, for the W 111). As in the case of the Mercedes W 111 and W 112, there was a wheelbase differece between the Mercedes W 108 and W 109 (115 mm longer). Underneath the body of all these model series, the technical stuff was pretty much similar.
The Mercedes W 108 series included three versions: 250S, 250SE and 300SE, while the W 109 project code was reffering to only one: the luxurious Mercedes 300SEL, worthy successor of the previous “Fintail” Mercedes 300SE (W 112). The basic model Mercedes 250S was equipped with a straight-six engine of 2496 cmc (fed by two downdraft carburettors, 130 PS at 5400 rpm). The Mercedes 250 SE had under its bonnet an upgraded variant of this engine, fed by fuel injection (150 PS at 5500 rpm).
Top of the W 108 range, the Mercedes 300SE was carrying a famous “straight-six” unit in its engine bay: the so-called M189 (fuel injection, 2996 cmc, 170 PS at 5400 rpm). Previous versions of this engine were used by the Mercedes 300 “Adenauer” limousines and the illustrious Mercedes 300 SL “Gullwing” sportscars. The same engine was used for the longer Mercedes 300SEL (W 109).
Certainly, the Mercedes W 108/W 109 were impressive masterpieces in terms of styling and proportions (the very best of what Paul Bracq did for Mercedes-Benz?), but they began the commercial career counting on rather old engines…
Things changed in 1967, when dedicated versions of the new M130 engine (2778 cmc) became available for the W 108/ W 109. So, the Mercedes 280S (downdraft carburettors, 140 PS) and 280SE (fuel injection, 160 PS) came to replace the 250SE and 300SE. At the higher level of the Mercedes W 109, the 300SEL received the same 160 PS type of engine, as the 280SE. Also, the Mercedes 280SEL was introduced – in fact, this was a 300SEL without the self-levelling pneumatic suspension of the rear axle.
The Mercedes W 108/W 109 debuted in 1965 with great styling, then got new “straight-six” engines in 1967 and, a bit later, their V8-engined versions came to definitely clarify the top status of Mercedes-Benz among the luxury car brands! The engine displacement (liters) of these cars is written after the model indicative. The M116 (3,5 litres) and M117 (4,5 litres) V8 engines were developed mainly for some other Mercedes models, while the majestic SOHC V8 (6,3 litres) came from the top-luxury limousines Mercedes 600.
Putting them under the bonnet of the Mercedes W 108/W 109, this was a kind of collateral aspect, but this ensured a place of honor for these automobiles in the history of Mercedes-Benz. The 280SE 3.5 (compression ratio 9,5:1, SOHC, feeded by Bosch D-Jetronic injection, 200 PS at 6800 rpm) was presented in 1970 and the 280SE 4.5 (compression ratio 8,5:1, SOHC, fed by Bosch D-Jetronic injection, 230 PS) came in 1971 and was aimed mainly at the American market.
The Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 was the idea of the engineer Erich Waxenberger, who was trying to make a better use of the remarkable engine (Bosch fuel injection, 250 PS) designed for the Mercedes 600/W 100. The Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 was able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in only 6,5 s! Was this car really a good idea? Let de figures tell the essential about it: 6500 examples of the Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 were built, while the production of the Mercedes 600/W 100 reached only 2700 automobiles.
And our today’s theme is not over yet! The engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhart Melcher (former Daimler-Benz employees) decided in 1967 to establish AMG Motorenbau & Entwicklungsgesellschaft. One of the “things” they worked on was the Mercedes 300SEL 6.3. Transforming this heavy limousine into an irrezistible sportscar was one of their most impressive achievements ever.
AMG deeply altered the big V8 engine, so it came to a displacement of 6,8 litres (6834 cmc). Its power reached to 420 PS. Nicknamed the Red Pig, the Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 AMG (0-100 km/h in 4,2 s, maximum speed of 265 km/h) had an astonishing, but brief competitional career.
The frequent refuelling, the limted availability of proper tires and the contemporary changes in the motorsport rules braked it’s ascension. Only five Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 AMG were ever assembled.
From the refined-seductive luxury model, to the hurricane-like racer, the Mercedes W 108/W 109 had it all. No surprise that nowadays it is one of the most sought-after Mercedes sedans, generously appreciated by the connaisseurs and the collectors.
|Mercedes W 108/W 109 - 1965 to 1967|
|Engine configuration||L6 petrol||L6 petrol||L6 petrol||L6 petrol|
|Engine capacity (cmc)||2496||2496||2996||2996|
|Maximum power (PS/rpm)||140/5400||160/5500||170/5400||170/5400|
|Maximum torque (Nm/rpm)||195/4000||216/4200||275/4000||118/2400|
|Unladen weight (kg)||1440||1480||1275||1526|
|0-100 km/h (s)||12,8||11,8||11,2||12,2|
|Maximum speed (km/h)||180||190||200||195|
|Mercedes W 108/W 109 - after 1967|
|Model||280S||280SE||280SEL||280SE 3.5||280SE 4.5||300SEL 6.3|
|Engine configuration||L6 petrol||L6 petrol||L6 petrol||V8 petrol||V8 petrol||V8 petrol|
|Engine capacity (cmc)||2778||2778||2778||3499||4520||6332|
|Maximum power (PS/rpm)||140/5200||160/5500||160/5500||200/5800||198/4500||250/4000|
|Maximum torque (Nm/rpm)||235/3600||245/4250||245/4250||292/4000||365/3000||500/2800|
|Unladen weight (kg)||1470||1480||1525||1525||1675||1780|
|0-100 km/h (s)||12,5||10,5||10,8||9,0||11,0||6,5|
|Maximum speed (km/h)||185||196||190||209||200||221|