June 25, 2024
Industry News

Hidden Treasure: Vintage 1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D

What level of lackluster performance would render a vehicle unbearable to drive? The sole new car in America with double-digit horsepower is currently the 78-horsepower Mitsubishi Mirage, which is widely criticized for being painfully slow. However, the 62-horsepower Junkyard Gem featured today was even more sluggish than the Mirage. Despite its lack of power, this vehicle was known for its exceptional reliability and met its end in a snowy Colorado car graveyard.

This particular car is a W114 (technically a W115 due to its four-cylinder engine), the precursor to the renowned W123. Produced from 1968 to 1976, the W114/W115 was a popular choice in North America.

During the mid-1970s, Mercedes-Benz set the standard for build quality, rivaled only by Toyota’s Century (a luxury vehicle handcrafted in limited quantities for Emperor Hirohito).

Amidst gasoline shortages and escalating fuel prices following the OPEC oil embargo of late 1973, a well-built sedan offering excellent fuel economy on readily available diesel fuel seemed like a prudent investment for American consumers. The U.S.-market 1975 240 D boasted a 62-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-four SOHC diesel engine.

Despite its 3,205-pound weight, the car’s power-to-weight ratio of 51.7 pounds per horsepower pales in comparison to modern vehicles like the 2024 Mirage, which accelerates like a Saturn V rocket. In comparison, a 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel with 48 horsepower felt alarmingly slow by standards of the Late Malaise Era.

The 1975 240 D was offered with a four-speed manual transmission, but this model came equipped with a four-speed automatic.

Although it was notoriously slow, the 240 D excelled in ride comfort and reliability.

With an MSRP of $10,257 for the automatic transmission and air conditioning (both included), the 1975 240 D would cost approximately $61,729 in 2024. In contrast, a 1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a 500-cubic-inch V8 was priced at just $8,601 ($51,763 after inflation), offering greater size, comfort, power, and fuel consumption than the 240 D.

Regrettably, Mercedes-Benz had not yet introduced six-digit odometers in the W114 by 1975, preventing an accurate assessment of its total mileage. However, other discarded diesel Mercedes-Benz models have been found with over half a million miles, suggesting this car may have traveled a similar distance.

With numerous 240 D models still in operation, we can anticipate encountering them in junkyards for years to come.

The W114 was a true testament to the principle of “you get what you pay for.”

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Conclusion

The Mercedes-Benz 240 D from 1975, despite its modest horsepower, was a symbol of reliability and longevity in the automotive industry. Its enduring presence on the roads showcases the enduring quality of Mercedes-Benz vehicles from that era.

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