The magnificent W108 and W109

The Mercedes-Benz W108 and W109, styled by noted automobile designer Paul Bracq, were built in Stuttgart in what was then West Germany, from 1965 until 1972. Although production ended in 1972, some vehicles were marketed and sold as 1973 model year versions in North America. They were typically late-production vehicles, and some didn’t arrive in North America until 1973.

If you are looking to buy a w108 or 109, make sure to check out the w108/w109 Buyer’s Guide, and learn a little about the range of options and extras that you’ll find on these cars.

The 108 and 109 Chassis Mercedes Benz vehicles are the last truly hand-built S-Class Mercedes vehicles (aside from some current AMG models). Starting with the 116-chassis, production was moved from a team, responsible for the entire vehicle from inception to the final touches, to an assembly line for efficiency. This allowed Mercedes to produce more vehicles in the same amount of time. The 108 and 109 vehicles were also the last vehicles with the infamous “Mercedes look” – stacked headlamps (on NA versions), curvy hoodlines, and a very large front grille. To this day, many people can still recognize a 108 or a 109′s lines as distinctively Mercedes, even if they were not even born when the model was still in production.

“108 at Dusk” ©Otis Blank

The two major chassis variations of this body style – 108 and 109 – referred to the vehicle’s suspension system. 109 vehicles were mostly air-suspension vehicles (with a few early exceptions), and 108 vehicles had coil springs on all 4 wheels. The smallest engine available was the 2.5L inline 6 in the 250S and 250SE models, and the largest was the 6.3L V8 in the legendary 300SEL 6.3. The variations were S, SE and SEL: Saloon, Saloon Einspritz, and Saloon Einspritz Lang. The S versions were carbureted, the SE versions fuel injected, and SEL versions fuel injected with longer wheelbases. All 108 and 109 vehicles had overhead cam engines.

The 250 -  The 250S came with a m108 engine – a 2.5L cast-iron block with twin carbs. Production ran from 1965 to 1968.
The 250SE came with a cast-iron, Bosch mechanically fuel-injected 2.5L m129 engine. Production ran from 1965 to 1968.
The 280 – The 280S came with a twin-carbed 2.8L cast-iron block m130 engine. Production ran from 1968 to 1972.
The 280SE came with an m130 engine that used a Bosch mechanical fuel injection.
The 300 - The early 300SEL – made from 1965 to 1967 – had an aluminum-block m189 engine and air suspension. Later 300SELs (1968 and onward) used either the 2.8L fuel-injected m130, or one of 3 V8 engines – the 3.5, 4.5, or 6.3. The 3.5 Available in the 108 and 109 chassis designation, the 3.5 was available as the 280SE 3.5, 280SEL 3.5, and 300SEL 3.5. Only the latter was available in North America, and only for one year (1971). It was built from 1970 until 1972.
The 4.5 Available in the 108 and 109 chassis designation, the 4.5L V8 was the North American equivalent of the 3.5L V8 for the “Rest of the world”. It was built from 1971-1972 as the 280SE 4.5, 280SEL 4.5, and 300SEL 4.5 The 300SEL 6.3 A legend in its own right, the M100-powered 6.3 produced, by conservative estimates, 300HP. It was $10,000 US in 1969. With 434 ft/lbs of torque, it had a 6.5-second 0-60 time (which made it the fastest production sedan in the world for quite some time). Only 6526 were made in its production run from 1967 to 1972 – yet it has the largest fanbase of any 108 or 109 – or perhaps any MB, in fact.