50 Years ago, the E-Coupe’s Ancestor was Born – Drive Safe and Fast

Automotive

Published on November 30th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair

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50 Years ago, the E-Coupe’s Ancestor was Born

Mercedes-Benz set a benchmark for elegance 50 years ago, right in the middle of the 1968 revolution: in January 1968, the “Stroke Eight” saloons of the 115 and 114 model series set new stylistic and technical standards.

Now, the coupés of the 114 model series round off the top end of the model range of this first independent upper mid-range series by Mercedes-Benz and establish the tradition of today’s Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupés. The third “Stroke Eight” body variant to follow in December 1968 were the saloons with a long wheelbase and, later on, chassis for special-purpose bodies.

In 1968, Mercedes-Benz not only established the tradition of the E-Class coupés with those of the 114 model series, but also advanced the differentiation of the model range. After World War II, the Stuttgart-based brand initially opts to use standard bodies for passenger cars of the 180 (W 120) to 220 SE (W 128) model series. This means that many identical pressed parts can be shared, including windscreen frames, front doors and trunk ─ the basis for efficient production. The possibility of utilizing streamlined body construction techniques is applied to an even greater extent in the 110 and 111/112 model series, whereby the vehicle bodies resemble each other from the windscreen all the way back to the boot.

In 1960, Prof. Dr. Fritz Nallinger, head of development, proposed subdividing the passenger car model series into two areas. This is how the “Stroke Eight” model series family was created, named after the abbreviation “/8” for the year, it was unveiled as an independent, upper mid-range series (1968). The four-cylinder models are grouped as the 115 model series, whereas the six-cylinder variants form the 114 series and also lay the groundwork for a coupé. The contract for the development of the elegant two-door model based on the saloons was awarded on 11 December 1964. As early as 3 September 1965, Nallinger presented two coupé designs to the management board.

In 1973, Mercedes-Benz introduces the facelifted coupés of the upper mid-range series. The Stuttgart-based brand retains the 250 C, 280 C and 280 CE engines. All the more extensive are the other changes, some of which are borrowed from the SL and SLC sports cars. Here, the focus is on safety, which translates into movable outside mirrors that can be adjusted from the inside, dirt-repellent trim on the A-pillars and dirt-resistant tail lamps. As early as 1973, the coupés of the 114 model series are fitted with the four-spoke safety steering wheel from the S-Class, head restraints and automatic safety belts for the front seats as standard equipment. The simultaneously revised design includes elements of the S-Class 116 model series introduced in 1972, such as a low and wide radiator grille and a redesigned front apron.

The introduction of the 250 C and 250 CE models in late autumn 1968 marked the beginning of a success story that continues up to this day. The current E-Class coupé of the C 238 model series advances this excellent history by impressing with its wide range of models and regularly enjoying top sales numbers when it comes to new sports car registrations in Germany.

This story was adapted from a Mercedes-Benz’s press release.

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