Taras WOLF retro DESIGN REVIEW. 25th November 2019
A retro review looks at products that are at least over ten years old from a present-day WOLF design perspective. While the technology and fashion of the period influence design, and are taken into consideration, great design ideas will transcend their eras to be timeless.
Interesting and factual information may be provided, but our review aims to deliver insight from the perspective of a designer’s mind and eyes.
Green Coupe among the green
The 250CE was a coupe variant of Mercedes first generation E-class. Designated by code as the W114, these coupes were produced from 1968 to 1976 with a significant facelift in 1973. The coupe in this review is a pre-facelift model, most notably different externally by its smaller front grill, double bumpers and corrugated rear lights.
Price and Availability.
Approx. 67,000 coupes were delivered Worldwide which is not a large number, even at that time. As a sports car they were overshadowed by the W113 Pagoda models, so a lot have ended up at wreckers. Fortunately, they were very well built, so the remaining cars that escaped wrecking are now finding good homes. At the time of this review, good W114 coupes start from $35,000 (Aust) and can extend well past $50,000 for near mint examples. Low mileage original examples are particularly sought after as these cars are not only collectable but still very practical and modern to drive.
The W114 sedans are an iconic post war Mercedes model that was well regarded for engineering that could literally drive endlessly. They were amongst the first cars to drive beyond a Million miles. From our research they were the model that began the mercedes tradition of a midlife facelift.
First impression/ Delight
The W114 cars have always been relatively “Boxy”, especially the sedan variants. The coupes however were much more graceful due to a longer boot lid and lower roof line. The word that comes to mind as a first impression is “Pretty”. It’s not sporty, aggressive or sexy, but will still turn heads with it’s bright front face and abundance of chrome trimmings.
Happy to meet.
Sorry to part.
Exterior Design Review
As a coupe it will always be in the shadows of other convertible cars but the W114 had no convertible variants. After the W111 and W113 models the114 coupe was the only sports Mercedes alternative and most adorable one too. The W114 coupe was unique in that it had no “B” pillar. With all its windows lowered it was a Pillarless coupe, and rather elegant sight to behold.
As with most Mercedes cars each detail is well considered and appear together as one language- the Mercedes language of practical engineering and beautiful design. While significantly sleeker than its sedan counterpart this car is still relatively boxy. All sides remain quite flat and vertical so from that perspective feels more like a 50s car than a 60s one.
From the front the W114 has the obvious large Mercedes grill with star on top. With large vertical head lights (not quite oval, not quite square), the car looks spritely and happy to meet you. The car in this review has original green tinted glass that is seriously retro and compliments the exteriors metallic green paint to perfection.
Perfectly placed chrome, detailed to be flush and streamlined.
Interior Design Review
The word “Pretty” continues inside with its parchment MB-Tex contrasting beautifully against the Cyprus green exterior. Most surfaces are considered from the perspective of crash safety so there are many padded curved forms and rounded edges. This 250CE has the earlier steering wheel and gear knob, which adds more chrome and class to the relatively simple dashboard and console design. Genuine wood veneer panels with chrome trimmings give a sense of luxury without being ostentatious. We particularly love the Zebrano wood veneer in this car that is quite a rare option to find.
Surrounded by a lot of glass with very vertical/flat surroundings, it’s you’re in a small room, rather than a car. The interior is spacious, with an abundance of natural sunlight. The W114 was the first Mercedes to feature a center console that divides the space between the front driver and passengers leg space.
This was considered Mercedes new generation of vehicle and was perhaps the beginning of the engineering style Mercedes are reputable for. These cars are very durable and testimony to this is a Taxi in the Mercedes Museum with 4.6 Million Kilometres on the odometer. Everything was designed to work and last, rather than be replaced or discarded. The exterior is well built but the anodized trimmings around the windows are soft and damage easily. Despite thicker than average steel those flat external surfaces are also vulnerable to dints.
Most of these cars had MB-Tex seats and door panels (a durable Mercedes vinyl), and most will remain in good original condition. It’s actually quite rare to find seats and door panels that have been completely wrecked or replaced. Blue MB-Tex seems to be the least tolerant to UV light, and over the last 3 decades we’ve never seen a blue dashboard without a crack in it.
Function – Experience.
This was and still is a very practical, functional and reliable car. They are simple to use and easy to service or repair. Built in a pre-electronic era most things can be repaired or replaced from an abundance of spare parts available through wreckers or Mercedes directly.
With automatic transmission and power steering these cars can drive around all day in comfort and style. The rear is spacious and with some extra cushions it’s almost a small lounge room on wheels. All that glass makes for excellent visibility, rare in today’s modern cars so reliant on cameras.
A fully optioned car will also have the benefit of electric windows, sunroof and cassette tape/radio.
An abundance of chrome trimmings with genuine wood veneer promised this car to be collectible and classic from the get go.
Desirability – Collectability or Value for money
The coupes have always been more desirable than their sedan counterparts due to smarter looks and smaller build numbers. While the sedans were being sent to scrap yards most coupes continued to fascinate and stay in use. Ironically this has created a situation whereby we now see more coupes driving around than sedans. The sedans risk extinction with remaining good example now appreciating faster than ever before.
The 280CE coupe is the top dog of all W114 models with the largest engine. We expect this car to remain the most sought after for many years to come. As a classic Mercedes they were underrated for many years and have only recently gained recognition as a great classic car. Good examples can be found and often there is little required to bring them back to looking crisp and original. Best of all is that they can still be found for a bargain but you do need to know what you are looking at, otherwise your bargain will be a money pit.
Although it’s a coupe it’s not a sports car. It does not look, sound, or feel sporty, but that won’t stop heads from turning. These are pretty cars, especially ones with metallic paint so you will definitely draw lots attention. There’s not much difference in price between the 250 and 280 models so go for the bigger engine if you can. Having said that, these cars are all about feeling so a really nice original car with beautiful colour combo, as in the example in this review, should take priority over engine size. A metallic paint car will look a lot less boxy than a no metallic car, and a sunroof is a big plus if your car comes with one.
WORD OF THE WOLF
In our opinion the W114 dated quite quickly after its launch in 1968. In a time of Disco fever, its simple lines were boring. Man had been to space so a boxy room on wheels was only suited to a practical a family person who prioritised getting from A with safety and efficiency. For a long time, the W114 looked like just an old car rather than a cool classic.
After half century since after its debut the W114 is most certainly a classic Mercedes in every sense of the word. All that simple geometry and chrome has now added to the cars retro cool looks and desirability. The W114 is more fascinating now than when new, and seems to be getting better with age. While we love the coupe, don’t underestimate the sedans that have been a real sleeper for many years. An original low mile example in either coupe or sedan is a solid investment and excellent entry car into classic Mercedes collecting.
Green with respect
WOLF DESIGN EXCELLENCE SCORE = 7.3
The information in this review is intended for informational or educational purposes to provide readers an understanding of how something may be seen from a certain design perspective. In this case it is from the view point of WOLF DESIGNS. As design is subjective this review should only be considered as an independent opinion. Information further to being of an opinion is provided to the best of our knowledge based on our own research at the time of doing the review. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies and reserve the right to change or update any content as appropriate.
The final responsibility of the design resides with the original manufacturer.