While many German manufacturers are synonymous with luxury, none of them do it quite as well as Mercedes-Benz. Proof of such can easily be seen when you examine the Mercedes’ killer W108 chassis.
The W108 chassis was built from 1965 until late 1972, giving a home to the 200 & 300-series Mercedes. The W108 had major implications for Mercedes-Benz and their subsequent success. Even when the car was in production it wasn’t hailed as a hero. But this chassis is easily considered the one that saved Mercedes from the clutches of demise and made them a household name. Every S-class we have known and loved comes from this car and this car alone.
The W108 offered unique styling mixed with something Mercedes would thrive on for generations, rock solid reliability. The W108’s had a knack for ticking well past the competition, making them some of the most reliable cars still to this date. Over-engineered and undervalued, a combination the world loves. That led to sales approaching 400,000 worldwide. Over less than 10-years, that’s not too bad. The lineup spanned from the 250 up to a long wheel base 300, with every model sharing the same experience. Styling was hit or miss as it gets, but now it’s become an icon. The W108’s design is getting more and more traction as it grows older, showcasing new isn’t always better.
And while the styling is winning the battle, the fact that so many W108’s are still running is definitely winning the war. Even more impressive is once you look deeper into what a W108 is all about. In today’s world, 2017, the W108 still offers comfort that will greatly parallel if not surpass modern day luxury. The W108’s interior is exceptionally made. The 108 comes with leather seats that look more impressive than a modern S-class. The wood detailing inside the cab is incredibly tasteful, something that has been copied ever since. But more than aesthetics is how well the W108 was constructed. The doors shut tightly, giving you that reassuring thud we have now come to expect. The cabin was insulated to a level that matches modern cars, resulting in an incredibly quiet driving experience. Even more so when you remember these cars were built in the mid to late 60’s.
While the interior is to die for, the exterior is just as impressive. The W108’s are the epitome of pure class. The body lines make a statement without being too bold. Even in its heyday, the W108 looked like nothing else on the road, and that stands even truer today. It has become like a fine wine, getting better with age. Then you have the mechanical aspect. Throughout the varying engine configurations, one thing rings true for all of them, they were incredibly resilient for their age.
The W108 came in 10 different configurations, all focused mainly on the engine size & type. The selection was quite vast, jumping from a 2.5-litre inline 6-cylinder all the way to an AMG 6.3-liter V8. Even with that each and every engine was built to a quality unmatched by most cars today, resulting in many W108’s running well over 300,000 miles. With 300hp coming from the biggest engine option, the Merc was the first modern sports luxury sedan, something we have copied ever since.
There is no arguing how incredible the W108/109 chassis was back in the late 60’s. Yet it seems like this wasn’t acknowledged until recent. It puzzles me that it has taken 50-years to realize one of the truly greatest cars has already been built. Incredibly if you don’t mind a 4 door sedan you can own one of these machines for less than a new Toyota Corolla, and that is absolutely amazing.