Since graduating from a beautiful Mexican made 1998 Beetle and a number of older Beetles, I've become hooked on the classic 70's Mercedes Benzs, both for the stalwart way they just keep on going and the classic lines of their design. I've long been an aficonado of timeless auto design; Porsche's infamous Beetle, still the longest running production vehicle ever, and with over 20million sold, people obviously love em, and the 911 evolutionary line; the Jaguar XK120, and their E-Type, both synonymous with luxury and speed; the Lotus 7, a somewhat raucous racing car that Colin Chapman thought would make a great roadcar (and he was right!); the MGA, for me, the archetype of a real British sportscar (you can keep your Heralds, Sunbeams, Midgets and Spitfires - the MGA looks and feels classy).
All these cars were in a class of their own, and so we come to the Mercedes W114/W115 200 series automobile.
The first real mass market Mercedes, made with bold new technology and new production line techniques, Mercedes made nearly 2 million during the 8 year production run of '68 - '76. For a luxury car, competing with the cheap Fords, Vauxhalls, Talbots, Triumphs, Morrises etc, this was quite a feat.
It introduced luxury to people who thought they could not afford it, and new safety technology just shy of the late 70's safety push, like all round disc brakes and full 3-point harnesses on all seats. With full independent suspension and a new design of rear axle, the car drove superbly and rivals many modern cars today, despite the 30 years that have gone by.
Get into a good example (or even an average one) and the doors still clunk like a Mercedes should, sitting square in the door frame, the switchgear is solid and lovely to touch, and the seats usually only hint at the miles the odometer reads. These cars were made in the era when cars were still built to last - most 20 year old cars barely stay together after a sharp bend, but a 30year old 200 series Benz will float round it like a nippy modern saloon, hugging the road like a sports car, with barely a nod to the forces of physics, the anti roll design being so forgiving.
I own two of these fine cars, both of 1971 vintage, one a 200, the other, my daily driver, a 220 with Webasto fabric sunroof. The 200 is in the process of restoration for sale, and it is in a lovely condition considering it has covered over 200k miles, a rare find indeed, but the 220 has suffered somewhat in the inclemental British weather, but still no worse than average, and with some continous restoration and elbow grease, she'll be ready to hit the classic shows.
The 220 pulls like a freight train from 2nd, a little clattering in first, although an engine and transmission strip down should sort that out. A little bouncy at first, but replacing the front shockers with some gas ones should do the trick. With the state of the interior being so lovely, I'm inclined to rebuild her to the same glory as she was when new, but I've also had a long term yearning to put in adjustable hydraulics in an old Benz and ride her low (but with the ability to raise the height at the classic car meets).
I'm about to fit a FuelCat fuel catalyser in the petrol tank, and claims of the manufacturers and customers testify to decreased fuel consumption, the ability to use unleaded fuel without additives and generally better engine operation. This remains to be seen, but I'm not sceptical, as the FuelCat technology has been around since WWII, and its been proven many times over. In fact, I would recommend that all classic car owners fit a FuelCat system in their motor, as it benefits not just the car, but the environment.
UPDATE: The FuelCat works great! From the moment I put it in the tank, the engine ran more lively and smooth, and although I've yet to see it give an improvement in consumption, I can categorically say that it runs on unleaded PERFECTLY without additives and without retarding the timing. I'm getting a FuelCat for every car I ever own from now on!
My ideal car would be a 240D, tax free (pre-1973), but 240D's started production in 1974, hence the only way this could happen is to replace an earlier car with a 2.4 diesel engine. Given such a thing, I would invariably run it on vegetable oil, as I dislike the polluting effects of petroleum (yes, yes, I know I own two gas-guzzling Mercs, but they're also good because they are 'recycled' cars, and will probably still be in use in 10 years time, not thrown away like modern cars are today).
However, I'm probably more likely to find a 220D, which the 240D replaced in '74, and so I have my eyes peeled for one of these, although they seem even rarer than the 240D.
The 240D has long been held in great regard, especially the W123 models which replaced the W115 in 1976. But the W115 is such a prettier shape than the W123, I would rather have the earlier model, although if I can't find a decent example, I will settle for the W123.
Anyway, that's enough chatter, lets get through some of those resources!