Mercedes-Benz W 108

Mercedes -Benz 280 SE ( 1972)

The Mercedes -Benz W 108 was a luxury-class model Mercedes- Benz and from mid- 1965 until the fall of 1972 in production.

The W 108 series always had conventional steel suspension, while the 300 SEL models were designated with air suspension as W 109. The facelift in the spring of 1968 brought the transition from mechanical to electronic fuel injection.

The production of the successful series ended in November 1972. Functioned as his successor, the " S-Class " models of the W 116 series

Model history


In August 1965 it was presented with the 250 S, 250 SE and 300 SE, a new generation of the upper class who should be the successor of the tail fin types W 111 (220 Sb, 220 SEb ) and W 112 (300 SE). All three models had in common was a designed by Paul Bracq body, the line of leadership, leaning on the coupe the series W 111. With these models, the tradition began that the upper class coupe specifies a new style of the brand Mercedes.

In terms of its technical concept, the new types were similar to their predecessors. Were new except the body ( the distinctive tail fins of the predecessor series W 111 were only slightly indicated ), the two 2.5 -liter engines, the one from the 2.2 -liter unit M 180 by drilling and increase in stroke had developed. With these modifications, however, this engine concept was paired cast cylinder at the end; the later 2.8 liter versions were given a uniform cylinder spacing and proved to as much more stable and also more economical.


The W 108 series had at launch in the summer of 1965 on all four wheels disc brakes, which was an advanced detail in comparison to most other contemporary automobiles.

As of January 1968, a revised version of the model was offered. The changes observed inter alia in the engine range, the interior and the design of the steering column.

In the automatic versions, the dial-up operation changed on the middle lever: the parking position P was initially behind, from 1968 they came as common practice forward. The steering wheel selector lever of the automatic was available as an option rarely chosen because it was felt to be outdated. However, gear shift levers were the prerequisite to be able to go forward with three people or two passengers. To this end, a little seat cushion is placed in the tray between the seats and the center armrest folded up with padded bottom, so that two people can take a seat on the front passenger seat temporarily widened.

However, this kind of " bench " usage gradually disappeared in the 1970s. The buckling of two passenger was not possible; to drive without a seat belt was incompatible with the idea of ​​the best security possible, the Daimler -Benz always propagated. Versions with steering wheel control levers and seat cushions may be to run today with three people in front.

The petrol engine of the 250 S had 96 kW (130 hp), the injection engine of the 250 SE develops 110 kW ( 150 hp), the all-aluminum engine of the 300 SE 125 kW ( 170 hp).

Unlike its predecessor, the new 300 SE was not equipped ( with a short wheelbase without "L") with air suspension. For this was how the two 2.5 - liter models, a hydropneumatic compensating spring in the middle above the joint of the single-joint swing axle as standard, which keeps the level of the body constant. In the previous series of the so-called tail fins this hydropneumatic compensating spring was only in the "Universal" mentioned combi models and the 230 S standard equipment.

When W 108 wheel base could be chosen between short and long. The offered from 1966 W 109 is always the long version (SEL). In other words, the short wheelbase it could not buy with air suspension. Feature of the W 109 is the standard air suspension, not the longer wheelbase. In addition, there are detailed differences in the motors ( suspension for the compressor ) in the interior, in the basic equipment and the doors.

The production of the model 250 SE ended with the beginning of the year 1968. As the successor to the 280 S and 280 SE were introduced in January, which differed only in the engine and equipment details of their predecessors. The newly developed 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine in the carburettor version (S ) 103 kW ( 140 hp ) and fuel injection (SE ) 118 kW (160 hp). The production of the model 300 SE was discontinued in late 1967, while the Type 250 S was further built until 1969.

From the appearance of the W 108 series in the summer of 1965 to the end of production in the fall of 1972, the injector saloons (250 SE, 280 SE, 300 SE, 3.5er ) were also donors of the same technology for the coupes and convertibles of the W 111 (motors, transmissions, axles, suspension, brakes, steering, instruments and many others).

Rear view

As of March 1971, there was a 280 SE 3.5 and 280 SEL 3.5. Newly constructed drive unit which had been offered as early as 1969 in the W 109 (Model 300 SEL 3.5), a Mercedes -Benz M 116, a V8 engine with a displacement of 3.5 liters, 147 kW ( 200 hp ) and a first time was at Mercedes used electronic fuel injection (Bosch D- Jetronic). The 280 SE with six-cylinder engine was still available, while the 280 SEL was taken for the eight- cylinder model from the program.

U.S. versions

First exclusively for the North American market had been developed in parallel with the 3.5-liter V8 engine in an enlarged engine capacity variant with 4.5 liter, which from May 1971 in the export models 280 SE 4.5, 280 SEL 4.5 and 300 SEL 4.5 ( W 109) was delivered. This was necessary to deal with a lower compression to meet the U.S. emission regulations and the then part still niederoktanischen fuel in the United States. The performance of the 4.5-liter engines were USA with 146 kW ( 198 hp) just under the level of the European engines with 3.5 liters.

One difference is in the automatic transmission of the 4.5 - liter versions for the U.S.: they already comply with the more modern type with torque converter - but a three- speed automatic.

Automatic cars for the European market using the gear in contrast to the U.S. versions, although a four-speed version, but do not have a torque converter. Engine and transmission are connected with them with a Föttinger or fluid coupling, which has only pump and turbine.

All three V8 engines, the "smaller" types 3.5 and 4.5 liter as well as the big 6.3-liter V8 engine (in W 109), were also in the successor model W 116 used with torque converter. The eight-cylinder engine received a three-speed, the six-cylinder engine, a four speed transmission.

From mechanics to electronics

The mechanical six-plunger injection pump broke in construction starts, the previous bit more simply constructed with two injection pumps and flow dividers from the temple, which were difficult to adjust and clean often attracted attention with their high consumption. Allen gasoline injection systems was, in contrast to the simpler diesel injection pumps, a complex control cam ("space cam" ) own to containing programmed the metered amount of fuel into two independently adjustable axes ( longitudinal displacement and rotation, according to speed and load ( accelerator pedal position ) ( fuel consumption map ). This steely, copy milled room cams quickly earned the nickname " potato ".

The fine mechanical requirements of these Bosch systems led in the 1960s to the so far most complex maintenance and repair work on automobiles. These systems were then with their production costs, peculiarities and defects, the initial impetus for the introduction of simpler design electronic systems at the transition in the 1970s.

The eight-cylinder 3.5 and 4.5 liter displacement were the first production cars from Daimler -Benz an electronic injection, Bosch D -Jetronic.


  • S and SE sedan with conventional suspension (steel coil springs )
  • SEL sedan - Long version with 10 cm enlarged wheelbase and steel suspension

Models: 250 S, 250 SE, 280 S, 280 SE, 280 SEL, 300 SE, 280 SE 3.5, 280 SEL 3.5 and 280 SEL 4.5 (U.S. Version)

Engines and propulsion

  • 250 S and 280 S have two Zenith carburetor; the engines deliver 96 and 103 kW ( 130 and 140 hp).
  • E denotes injection engines:

Vehicles with six-cylinder engine were supplied as standard with four-speed manual transmission. As an optional extra, there was a four-speed automatic transmission, and from 1969 a five-speed manual transmission, a very rare option ordered. Had the eight-cylinder models are equipped a four -speed automatic transmission with hydraulic clutch (ie no torque converter ) installed, or, on request and at a nominal charge, the quite rare georderte four-speed manual transmission. Only the supplied exclusively in the U.S. from 1971 4.5 models he had a three-speed automatic transmission with torque converter, the 116 was also used in the follow-up type W.

Optional was a limited slip differential.

Model Overview and Specifications

Sizes and options

There were factory only four-door sedans in two wheelbases. Chance to have been converted into convertible or four-door sedans Landaulet also.

Many S- classes in this series have been converted into advanced Used stage end of the 1980s on economical diesel engines. The mechanics of the tail fin models could this be installed quite easily.

There were numerous optional extras available:

  • Power windows twice or four times
  • Headrests twofold or fourfold
  • Central
  • Power steering, starting in 1968 as standard
  • Automatic, the 280 SE / L 3.5, 4.5 (USA) as standard
  • Five-speed gearbox ( six-cylinder )
  • Air conditioning
  • Electric sunroof
  • Forged Fuchs alloy wheels ( " baroque wheel " )
  • Tinted sun protection glazing, with later models may have a standard
  • Towbar with fixed or removable ball head
  • Halogen headlights (double lights ), while 6.3 and from 1969 series
  • Headlight wiper washer system (from April 1972)
  • Searchlight
  • Tropical chassis
  • Right exterior mirror
  • Reading lamps in the rear, standard on the 300 SEL 6.3
  • Radlaufchrom

Furthermore, Daimler -Benz fulfilled a surcharge even unusual customer requests.

Export models

U.S. export vehicles come standard " environmentally friendly" than the other vehicles. Were achieved the stringent California licensing requirements with lower compression and corresponding underachievement, an exhaust gas control and closed tank vent.

In the U.S., the limousines according to the American legislation with two stacked round headlights ( sealed beam) were offered. For European vehicles one-piece, vertical headlights were the rule in two variants.

From 1969 visually similar dual headlights were also offered for the European market. Since many older cars were rebuilt to modern appearing double headlights, now the single long headlights are rare and sought after.