Party in the front, business at the back
Mercedes-Benz made waves late last year when it revealed its luxury X-Class bakkie. But did you know that the company has dabbled in the luxury bakkie market before?
Mercedes-Benz doesn’t build bakkies, right? Won’t the X-Class be the company’s first foray into the segment? Well, no, not entirely. When you think about it, you realise that the brand has occasionally created vehicles with a load bay before. For instance, bakkie versions of the G-Class have been made sporadically over the years – including the epic G63 AMG 6×6. Go back to the days of the Mercedes-Benz 170, and you’ll also find that the company offered a version of the car with a load bed that certainly looked a whole lot like a bakkie.
But no previous Merc bakkie is more interesting than the Stroke 8/W115 pick-up. Mercedes-Benz released the Stroke 8 vehicles in 1968. These were a range of luxury vehicles that either sported a six-cylinder engine (the W114), or a four-cylinder mill (the W115). In the vast majority of markets, the W115 was available only as either a coupé or a sedan, but this wasn’t the case in South America. Realising that there was significant demand for a practical (but luxurious) vehicle with a load area, Mercedes-Benz chopped the W115 in half and turned it into a bakkie.
The cabin was identical to the regular W115, boasting all the technology and luxury this included. In the early 1970s, when this pick-up was built, that meant a radio, automatic gearbox and plush leather seats. Behind the cabin, though, was a massive load bin that made it a very practical vehicle.
Sure, it wasn’t the biggest or most powerful bakkie, but it was undoubtedly the most luxurious. It would take decades before manufacturers again considered creating a luxury bakkie.
The vehicle was built in Argentina, and only produced from 1972 to 1976, but it quickly developed a devoted following, receiving the affectionate nickname “La pick-up”.
This particular example was imported to Germany by the Stuttgart SSB railway company, which used it to carry equipment between railway points. Only a handful of these bakkies ever made it to Europe, so it’s quite a unique find. It’s been lovingly restored, and was on display at the Artipelag Cultural Centre near Stockholm when Mercedes-Benz unveiled its X-Class there late last year. Even though everyone was there to see the company’s brand-new double cab, the W115 was a massive hit. Everyone crowded around to see this original X-Class.
Under its bonnet is a OM615 engine, which is a 2.2-litre (2 197cc) oilburner that, when new, offered 45kW of power and 126Nm of torque. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but back in the ‘70s, that was ample. Moreover, La pick-up, wasn’t just about practicality. It was also about luxury. Like the upcoming X-Class, it was about doing your business in style. Merc’s new double cab has some big shoes to fill…
Model: W115 Pick-Up (La pick-up)
Country of origin: Argentina
Years available: 1972 to 1976
Body style: LCV/Pick-up
Engine: OM61 220D
Capacity: 2 197cc
Text: GG van Rooyen