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    Wabenzi in Africa

    OWNER: ROBERT COUCHER

    CAR: #1988-Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #1988 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126-Coupé / #V8

    I haven’t mentioned the ‘Big Block’ before. This is the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126 my father has owned for over a decade. It lives in Cape Town and on our last trip over for Christmas he lent it to my wife and I.

    I had never taken much notice of it before. I was never mad about the colour - a Broederbond racing bronze, significant because it is rumoured the car was previously cwned by General Magnus Malan, a past Minister of Defence in South Africa.

    But I have read that the W126 series, 5547cc #Mercedes-Benz-V8 560SEC was often cited as the best coupe of the 1980s. Weighing some 1750kg and pumping out about 300bhp, it promises a 0-60mph time of seven seconds and a top whack of 150mph. So I pile my wife’s ample luggage into the huge boot and we motor off in comfort. The Benz slides down the motorway in air-conditioned serenity with its typical MB wooden throttle response, woollen steering and sluggish auto-box.

    Leafing through the Big Block's fat silver- covered handbook, it seems it has a fully stamped MB service history from new and the 167,000km (104,000 miles) reading is correct. Then I read that the gearbox has two settings: ‘E’ for economy and ‘S' for standard. Surely ‘S’ is for sports...

    Next morning, on a solo mission, I fire up the 560 and switch to ‘S’ mode. The Benz pulls away in first gear (in E it moves off in second) and instantly feels a lot more alert. After allowing the big V8 to warm properly, I reach the bottom of a long mountain pass and floor it. The Wabenzi draws a deep breath and hoofs up the road with a muted roar. The steering, despite its loose straight-ahead position, becomes accurate when weighted into the comers, the handling is taut and sharp when pushed, and the big brakes more than capable of slowing the beast down for the next bend.

    Later, with my wife back on board, I slip the gearbox back into ‘E’ mode and smile in the knowledge that the Big Block can be awakened at the merest flick of that innocuous little switch.

    Above Switch to the left of the transmission selector is key to unlocking 560SECs huge potential.
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    RESTRAINED ELEGANCE ‘60s BAGGED MERC W108

    Belgian Mercedes-Benz W108 “S” No one quite does Euro box cruisers like ze Germans… or, as it turns out, the Belgians.

    RETRO RIDE MERCEDES-BENZ 280S WORDS: Midge. PHOTOS: Kev.be.

    Sometimes what you don’t modify is as important as what you do.

    What’s the key to being cool? If I knew that I wouldn’t be sitting at my desk eating pickled onion Monster Munch, I’d be supping champagne on my private yacht selling bottled ‘cool’ by the truckload!
    I guess one thing’s for sure though, some cars are just born that way, there’s no stand-alone reason why, they just are and, when it comes to modifying such elegant automotive icons, the trick is not to ruin all that inherent awesomeness by going nuts. To me, that sums up the attitude behind this jaw-dropping machine from deepest, darkest Belgium. It’s not over-blown, it’s not try-hard, it’s just effortlessly cool and ridiculously laid-back.

    Now, I’m not saying Andy here has been lazy with his mods, quite the opposite in fact, what he has done is actually done to perfection. My point is that unlike most, myself included, he knew exactly when to stop. There’s an old joke on the modifying scene that a project is never finished and, for the most part, that’s true. Modifying by nature is a fluid thing, a living, breathing process that doesn’t cease just because you’ve had your magazine photo shoot. In fact, it only really stops when you move on to another ride… and even then the new owner will probably get stuck right in.

    This retro Benz is different, what you see before you, is probably the first ‘finished’ motor we’ve ever featured. When we asked Andy ‘what’s next?’ he just looked at us blankly and said “nothing – I drive it now.” And that tells you all you need to know. Andy is clearly one of those laid-back European fellas you normally see staring thoughtfully into the distance drinking espresso and puffing on a Gauloise, and that premise just makes him cooler, without even trying, the bastard. Then again, I suppose Belgium is not a nation known for it’s reckless abandon in the first place and that translates directly to this car - there’s nothing that’s not been coolly calculated in every detail.

    So, to sum up, what we have here is the rare and beautiful situation where a motor that was devastatingly cool to start with gets a couple of retrained mods to push it straight into the stratosphere!

    As is often the case, the language barrier has made finding out the ‘why, what and when’ an interesting task. Andy’s English may be better than my Belgian (it’s called Flemish – Sander) but, even so, getting the finer details of the spec has been something of a challenge. Take that slick solid-colour paint job for starters, I asked Andy what it is and he replied “red” which was infinitely helpful. As it turns out it’s an A-Class-spec ‘Mars Red’ but I suppose that doesn’t matter, what’s most important is that Andy oozes enthusiasm for his car, a motor that’s over a decade older than he is. It’s not just because it’s a project he’s lavished time and Euros on either, it’s been a deeply personal venture all round, he even got married in it.

    From what I can make out the W108 chassis Merc was his childhood dream car and, when a local car collector was thinning out his garage giving Andy first dibs on this one, it was an opportunity he just couldn’t resist. Being a low mileage, last-of-the-line 1972 car it was mint too but, with a history of modifying every motor he’s ever owned, it didn’t take long before Andy had it slammed over a set of custom American hoops from Intro wheels on a home made air-ride system. Apart from a properly posh Kenwood audio setup, that’s about it. There really isn’t that much too it.

    Does it help that the quirky-looking Mercedes W108 was one of the coolest ‘60s motors ever to come out of Europe? Does it make a difference that’s it was one of the rare cars built with the longevity to still be on the road today? Sure it does, but it’s arguably more important that Andy has done nothing but enhanced its charm with all the right mods, no more, no less. There’s a kind of art in that sort of simplicity, a laid-back beauty that just can’t be found in a massively complex modern project.

    Does it matter if the spec isn’t as extensive as some? Is this car any less impressive or desirable? Not at all - if you’ve got it, you’ve just got it, and this one’s got it with bells on!

    MERCEDES-BENZ W108

    Rolling off the line in 1965 for a 7-year run, the W108 Mercs came in 10 different configurations from the early 2.5-litre 250S up to the late 280SEL 4.5. Mercedes conceived the W108 chassis cars to succeed the older W111 ‘Heckflosse’ (fintail) cars famous for their almost Cadillac-style tail fins. Up to 1972 over 364000 W108s were built alongside another 18000 similar (but longer-wheelbase) W109 cars including the legendary 6.3-litre V8 300SEL, which came with self-levelling air suspension as standard. Performance was the big divider but they all looked pretty much identical and it’s this shape that has become a 20th Century luxury automotive icon. You may have seen James Bond driving a black 250SE down the train tracks in Octopussy, or the ultra-rare silver ‘1969 280SE Convertible they crash in Las Vegas in The Hangover… that’s right, they were both W108s. I told you they were cool!

    TECH SPEC: ‘ #1972 / #Mercedes-Benz-280S-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz-280S / #Mercedes-Benz-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-W109

    THE MODS: Custom #Air-ride system, 18-inch Intro #Speed-Star-Wheels , resprayed A-Classe red, Kenwood head unit and speakers

    THANKS: My wife and kids, Geert Melovan, Ruben (great friend), Eric Carrosserie (Paint), and Willy for help with the engine.

    Andy now has a Merc to die for, not to mention a garage!
    True lowrider style, just on this side of the Atlantic.
    Bone stock engine is still going strong!

    DRIVER: ANDY WILLEMS

    How long did it take to complete your car?

    I don’t know… all these hours that I have not counted.

    How would you describe the project?

    I had a dream, I followed my dream, I created my dream, and now I have my dream. You can’t say fairer than that!
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    CAR MERCEDES-BENZ 450SEL 6.9

    Year of manufacture #1976
    Recorded mileage 33,487km (see text)
    Asking price £49,950 Vendor Avantgarde Classic, Tamworth, Staffs; tel: 07968 694448; www. avantgardecars. co. uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9 / #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9-W116 / #M100 / #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL / #Mercedes-Benz-W116 / #Mercedes-Benz-M100 / #M100 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-W116 /

    Price £21,000
    Max power 282bhp
    Max torque 406lb ft
    0-60mph 7.2 secs
    Top speed 140mph
    Mpg 17

    This non-sunroof W116 is splendidly original and well kept, with a fantastic history file including all of the factory books and tags. The firstaid kit remains unopened and the spare, probably still with its first XWX, retains the cardboard tag, though it’s no longer wired to the valve stem. The car was bought new in Cannes and has been in Germany for the past seven years. It was painted during the latest ownership, and every fuel receipt kept shows a diet of only super unleaded. There are 12 stamps in the service book, the first seven from the supplying main dealer. The body is straight and rot-free; it was resprayed after a deer strike that slightly dinged the right eyebrow, and the owner insisted on a full repaint. All of the chrome is smart, the alloys unscuffed and shod with newish Toyos. Beneath, you can still see the M-B green underseal.

    Inside, the factory hide has never been Connollised. The driver’s seat base has a few creases, but that’s about it. The Becker Monza radiocassette player remains, with its handbook and warranty card. The speedo was changed at 105,000km, so the real figure is 138,000 – or 86,000 miles. The motor is tidy, having had the cam covers and airbox refinished. Its fluids are clean, the transmission fluid nice and pink and sweet smelling. The inner wings are excellent, and the underbonnet sound deadening is new because it’s pretty much a consumable on Mercs of this era.

    The 6834cc V8 starts instantly, and playing with the ride height setting reveals that the air suspension is functional. Oil pressure when warm is the usual Mercedes full-deflection 3bar, dropping to 2bar at tickover, and the temperature steadies at c80ºC. It squirts off (in near silence) with some alacrity, and feels as if it would simply keep accelerating at the same rate until it hit 140mph, all delivered with a sublime ride. It’s not intimidating, but it does convey a slightly menacing air – even in Thistle Green. Quite remarkable, and the aircon works. It will be sold with a fresh MoT.

    SUMMARY
    EXTERIOR Repainted to a high standard, on a rust-free structure.
    INTERIOR Leather pretty much as it left Untertürkheim, plus some patina.
    MECHANICALS Iron fist in a velvet glove.

    VALUE ★★★★★★★★✩✩
    For Stonk; ride; rarity
    Against Air suspension can get expensive, but it’s spot-on

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    If you want what’s probably the best in the UK, and wish to be hurtled in comfort, look no further.
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    The V8-hammer: 5.6-liter, 279bhp, from 7500 euro in fair condition #Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126. The SEC front section is massive and stylish. King lettering on Alu-Haube, forged Fuchs wheels in channel cover design. Functional instruments, not to exceed are lavishly equipped center console with #Becker-Mexico . The enormous pulling powerful 5.6-liter V8 developed 279 hp.

    Before the debut of the 500E was the 560SEC the overhaul Ammer of Mercedes. The outside and inside stresses discreet luxury coupe, thanks to rich displacement is both relaxed cruising and brachial bite.

    Lunch is soon, but the high fog has still not fully cleared. At a dismal failure street in the east of "Warzburg" park in the 560SEC with the engine running, small white exhaust circles around the dual exhaust pipe give it away. The eight-cylinder engine is running with a 600 rpm, we must make an effort to listen to. We are in Auto lean on a rendezvous with the top model of the SEC series agreed. Two men in the large circle work trousers coupe, a cleans the washers, and the other takes on the chrome parts the last drops of the washer. Almandinrot acts in this asphalt tristesse as dark as Barolo in the bottle, later it is the sun light.

    Instead of instructions there is confidence: With an affirmative "know" if the vehicle registration through the open frame enough. The extra wide door is filled into the castle of the driving belt feeders, servile the wide black band. Even if the engine is not at temperature, on the way to the gas station he shakes the condensation water from the exhaust, the tachometer displays 281 322 kilometers.

    It is by no means a Concours car, this large, elegant coupe in the rare color, but you can feel and sense that it once as a new car was a charming beauty. The Mercedes designers Bruno Sacco and Joseph Galli places villages brought it was already the end of the 1970s in its timeless form, ten years it was built from 1981 to 1991, the 560he came first with the gentle 85er-face-lift, a few playful smoothed.

    The deep black leather has the body heat is not admitted, IT CREAKS with every movement, the oil pressure is okay, the reserve indicator lights. Of at least 10.5 : 1 gets compressed V8 100-octane petrol provided that he was the evil spirits flee. Point 12.09 pm the sun breaks and the SEC loses its to maturity. Now he dumpelt out of town with 1500/min stoic.

    He now knows that I do well with him my that length from the penetrating power of his 279 hp wants nothing to do with. I ride him like a 230 CE, he thanked me with soft, yes the imperceptible switching process gen. The more power of 27 hp compared with the 500he he has a new crankshaft with significantly more stroke due to what 5.6 liters result.

    S-Class coupe with SL face the tachometer jerks not violent, it weighs gently. Faster than Tempo 80 goes just didn't. I wish that my own counter up to the beautiful line of the Coupé in the slide past to enjoy. But I look forward toward the horizon, where the vineyards, start on the long, ruby red shiny hood.

    At its end is not a star in sight because the SL-style in oversize on the radiator grill logo. With its instruments has signalled to me the SEC wellness mode, the tank is half full, the needle drops hardly, how should you then roles. The Becker Mexico remains switched off. The engine murmurs quietly in the background, a dense carpet of sound, the luxury cars and heavy sounds, but by no means a sound that you stirring. Remain the emotions on the 560 SEC on Form and feel limited?

    It is conveniently located in the large cars, is positioned at the front man baronial, the center armrest unfolded, the right arm was based. Only a few tiny corrections to the ingenious seat silhouette on the door trim and the location is perfect. Surrend quietly moves the head restraint is something that the backrest slides a piece. The cruise control and speed limiter clicks clean, I put it to 110, which are just 1800 rpm. When 1990 incredible 160 000DM top-SEC is he as standard, as air conditioning, rear head restraints and the tone-setting headlight wipers. An exact parallel to the six point nine, the over- #Mercedes in the 70s. Without cat had the 560 SEC 300 HP, only then would the coupe an assassin. The vines back closer to the streets are narrow, winding uphill and downhill. It is amazing how agile the heavy coupé in the closed curve angel touch. The steering feels good, it has hardly any game. But the suspension is showing its age, especially the level of regulated rear axle filters the ground waves only moderately.

    But even as new cars rolled off the 560 SEC according to auto motor and sport-test considerably shorter than its more docile brothers 380, 420 and 500, tribute to the high-performance. We had him, the S-Class model, urgently the superior room-link axle must treat. Nice for a W201 190D Operator not on the four times as expensive coupe may levy. In the middle of the dense vines gespinst shocks me on a mile-long two-lane straight, a dead branch, cut off from the ring road. From the dead, as called, now I want to know it.

    60 in the fourth level adopts the SEC, I then the accelerator pedal slowly. Even without the hard back of the Trigger Kick-downs, rushes the coupe vehemently to the front. Rapidly accelerated the tacho needle marks for 80, 100, 120, 140. Only at 3500 rpm does the V8 angry his staccato voice. In the leading wind ropes hiss post past until the almost right-angled left curve on the horizon the arrogant puts an end to drive. Crackling in the exhaust line rolls of 560. It pleased him to be nurtured, now we go sit back.

    Servile belt feeders, nappa soft leather seats, the center console as a bar: the coupe is a wellness lounge

    conclusion so far I thought, a 380 SEC suffice to make stylish and sophisticated V8 continue to enjoy. Finally he also has plenty of performance. But a day with the 560 SEC instructed me a better. The flagship model is still wonderful. Many extras are series, and the time for gentle, time brute engine offers an outrageous desire full power experience.

    Nice atmosphere in burr walnut veneer with black leather handle in and a heaven as in the boudoir.

    The Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC, C 126, year #1990

    FACTS & FIGURES engine type M117, water-cooled 8-cylinder #V8 -engine, a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, the front longitudinal, bore x stroke 96.5 x 94.8, 5547cc displacement, performance 279bhp at 5200 rpm, max. torque. 428 Nm at 3750rpm, compression 10.5 : 1, two valves per combustion chamber, actuated via a chain-driven camshaft per cylinder bank and the towing lever, hydraulics Valve clearance compensation, cylinder heads and engine block made of light metal, five crankshaft bearings, mechanical and electronic. Injection #Bosch KE-Jetronic, map-controlled electronic ignition, closed-loop catalytic converter, Olin holds 8 liters engine power transmission four-speed automatic torque converter transmission, limited-slip differential (ASD), rear-wheel drive chassis and body Cx (Cd) 0.35; self-supporting steel body, hoods made of aluminum, the front double wishbone, coil springs and a stabiliser, hi. Diagonal swing axle, coil springs, hydropneumatic level control, servo recirculating ball steering, disc brakes, forged aluminum rims 7 J x 15, tires 215/65 VR 15

    Dimensions and weights Wheelbase 2845 mm, length x width x height 4935 x 1828 x 1402 mm, weight 1750 kg, Fuel tank 90 litres

    PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Max speed 155MPH, 0-62 in 7.9 seconds, MPG 19

    Construction and pieces all Mercedes C 126 from 1981 to 1991: 74 060, 560 SEC: 28 929 copies of purchase advice

    / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117 /

    Many SEC are strained much driver cars. This is in old age by maintenance jam noticeable. Even the moderate rust protection is a problem.

    Body-CHECK
    ■ The condition of the jacking points, the rear wheel arches and the bottom of the screen frame is representative of the body of the coupé. All three are lots of rust, one should not buy. Also the condition of the interior is important for dark colors like olive or cream there is no substitute more, this is unfortunately also for the cult, but wear joyful pinstripe velour.


    Technology-CHECK
    ■ The legendary ruggedness of large Mercedes technology is in old age of their borders. A typical defects of the light-alloy V8 engines M116 and M117 are the fragile plastic runners of the timing chains, which can break, what capitals engine damage. Therefore you should replace it as a precautionary measure, it cost about 1200 Euro. Vulnerable are also idle speed actuator and flow divider of the #Bosch-KE-Jetronic , whose defects by start-up difficulties and irregular running of the engine, but also speak to marodem ignition cable dishes in addition to distribution. The automatic gearbox should the switching points are correct and no slipping of the converter with high switching speed can occur. If the rear axle is hard and feels poltrig, the spring balls of the level control is defective.

    Prices for introduction 9/ #1985 ( Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126) 133,608DM classic analytics-price 2016 (000/4800 State 2/4) 22.000 Euro

    SPARE PARTS
    The location is typical of the brand, engineering parts are fully and rapidly available. But the Mercedes models can on the sub-sector. Coupe-specific equipment and trim parts are very expensive. After production from Hungary or Romania often do not have the same level of quality as the former original parts.

    CLUBS AND specialists in the #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126 / Club e.V., Michael Sterl, old citizens Strasse 29, 04617 Rositz (Thuringia), tel. 98/803 03 44 73 08, www.S-Class-club.de Car House Wildermuth, MB-partner, Steinheimer Strasse 1, 74321 Bietigheim-Bissingen, Tel. 071 42/60 34, www.wildermuth.mercedes benz.de cult mobile with star, Jens Schiwy, Walter Bertelsmann-Weg 2, 27726 Worpswede in Bremen, Tel. 01 76/ 84 03 08 83, www.cult mobile.de


    Weak points
    1 fender and standing plates
    2 front wheel arches (Lenkkhebelber.)
    3 front axle photographs
    4 skirts, jacking points
    5 Doors
    6 wheel arches, rear side parts
    7 rear screen frame
    8 timing chains slide
    9 Flow Divider KE-Jetronic
    10 level control
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    Best of the Best - #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9 W116 Driven / - #Mercedes-Benz-W116 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9-W116

    What it's like to drive a luxobarge with more torque than a Ferrari of similar years. This is the car that really paved the way for the super-saloons that are preferred by the super-rich today.


    Today, the richest 1% of the population glides through city streets in monstrously powerful symbols of opulence like it’s nothing. The over-engined #Mercedes-Benz-S-class is power, a new-money V-sign to petty concerns like fuel prices, austerity and public opinion. And the more things change, the more they stay the same. In fact in May #1975 , when the 450 SEL 6.9 went on sale, more than a year after its official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show, this fuel-guzzling statement car was even more dramatic, as the oil crisis of the early 1970s sent petrol prices through the roof.


    Mercedes-Benz delayed the launch when the pumps ran dry, but eventually had to let the best saloon in the world free. Running a car that returned just 10.1mpg in Sport mode was still the equivalent of lighting a fat cigar off a £50 note and James Hunt’s own 6.9 ended up on bricks in his drive.

    It was the wrong time for a car of this ilk but, at the time of its inception, Mercedes-Benz was determined to overthrow the #Jaguar-XJ12 . It also wanted a successor to the world’s first real Q car, the 6.3-litre W109 300SEL 6.3, created by M-B engineer #Erich-Waxenberger , which was once the fastest fourdoor saloon in the world. This one continued the ethos: the only things to mark it apart from the lesser 450 were the 6.9 badge and wider tyres.

    Mercedes-Benz stripped the 6.9-litre M100 V8 from the 600, together with the trick hydropneumatic suspension system. Aluminium cylinder heads, hardened valve seats and sodium-filled valves, together with #Bosch-K-Jetronic fuel injection and dry-sump lubrication were all revised for the handbuilt 6.9. After all, this was an engine designed to make an impact on the world.

    Today anything less than 500bhp is barely breaking a sweat, but back then this 286bhp titan with its 420lb ft of torque was Top Trumps stuff. The #1976 #F1 World Champion #James-Hunt declared: ‘It looks like a taxi, goes like a Ferrari.’ That was slightly optimistic, but it’s a glowing testimony nonetheless.


    Others were equally keen. The great American journalist David E Davis said this was, ‘the ultimate manifestation of the basic Daimler-Benz idea of how automobiles are supposed to be designed and built. It is the best Mercedes-Benz automobile ever sold.’

    Like Davis, who claimed the big Benz handled like a Mini, CAR magazine was entranced with the road manners of this hefty hunk of car, which tips the scales at 1935kg. That’s 200kg more than the standard 450, thanks almost entirely to the big V8 up front. ‘A car of such speed and weight must have demonstrably good roadholding and handling, and this one is no disappointment in anything from a hairpin to a three-figure bend,’ the magazine said. Swiss automotive newspaper Automobil Revue, which is hardly known for going too far, called it: ‘The best car in the world.’

    So it’s good, then

    The 450SEL 6.9 cost DM69,930 (£12,880) at launch, but inflation took this to £24,950 by 1978, which was less than £2000 cheaper than a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II and almost twice as much as a #Jaguar-XJ5.3. For a car with cloth seats and not so many creature comforts inside. It was ludicrously expensive, but this was by far the fastest, most capable and brilliant saloon car in the world. It was a technical tour de force that came together in the face of environmental pressures making today’s Green movement look passive, and it a car that set the benchmark fo engined saloons everywhere.

    JFK Junior, Frank Sinatra Telly Savalas and the Shah of Iran all drove a 6.9, as did heavy metal star David Lee Roth, who painted his black and put a skull and crossbones on the bonnet. It was, then, a fashion icon and the public took to it. Despite its staggering price and fuel consumption, 7380 were sold between 1975 and 1981. That means they’re readily available today at a reasonable price – but that is surely set to change in the years ahead as the much-revered 6.9 becomes harder to source.

    As impressive as ever on the road

    It’s amazing how much perspective 40 years provides, as the eulogies bestowed upon the 6.9 simply don’t hold true today. US motoring scribe David E Davis suggested the big #Mercedes-Benz could be thrown around like a Mini, but after picking up the car here from Mercedes-Benz HQ in Milton Keynes we glide right over the first mini roundabout. The steering simply isn’t quite as pin-sharp as I was led to believe.

    The hydropneumatic suspension that was a development of Citroën’s system handles the weight well for a car of its era, but I still have to set up for the bend to avoid understeering into oncoming traffic. It’s well-damped in high-speed corners, holding the line effortlessly. The big Benz also tramples the mini-roundabout with barely a bump and squashes bumps and potholes without transmitting them to the cabin. It’s every bit as well damped as a modern car, more so even.

    Adjustable ride height seems like overkill for a saloon car, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. The self-levelling front and rear and anti-squat technology to keep the car level under heavy acceleration and braking are more relevant. At the rear, the 6.9 inherited the standard S-class rear semi-trailing arm, along with a Watt’s linkage to help with enthusiastic cornering. That 200kg hanging over the front end still dictates a slow in and fast out style in slower corners. But, my Lord, it’s fast out, even in a modern context.

    The performance figures are impressive, with the big barge hitting 60mph in 7.4sec and a top speed of 140mph, but it’s the way it lets rip from 60-100mph that is shocking even today. The languid nature of the car simply does not match up to the way it acquires speed. It could absolutely shred your licence these days.

    That rumbling V8 is distant, insulated, like a distant storm. It makes its presence felt with every stab on the bounteous accelerator, though, as the scenery starts to rush past at a surreal rate and the fuel gauge seemingly drops before my eyes. There’s no getting away from the scary consumption – the Benz consumes a third of the 96-litre tank in 60 miles, but then you shouldn’t buy a 450 SEL 6.9 without knowing what you’re letting yourself in for.

    Thankfully for a car that builds speed so fast, it’s equipped with disc brakes all-round that seem stronger than the tyres’ ability to lay the braking power to the road. It will lock up, but that’s inevitable with this much weight going that fast, even though post- #1978 cars come with a rudimentary anti-lock system #ABS / #Bosch .

    Modern AMGs could learn a thing or two from the understated looks. Many owners deleted the 6.9 badge, making the big Mercedes-Benz look like a totally standard 450 on the outside, with just the 6.5J x 14in alloy wheels and wide tyres marking it apart. That aside the W116 is a comical blend of understated elegance and fussy detailing such as the double-deck bumpers, overly complex chrome window surrounds and louvred light lenses.

    Inside it’s typical 450 fare, with a few extra warning lights thrown in to accommodate the handbuilt engine that remained more or less maintenance-free for the first 50,000 miles. Those cloth seats seem out of place in a car that cost this much, but they’re supportive and suit the style of the car, allowing me to hang back with a single finger on the wheel. I can even mess with the #Blaupunkt stereo, with its digital display. It’s the one item on the car that isn’t period. The oversize handbrake is an item that never once fails to bring a smile to my face, even if starting out from an overnight stop at silly o’clock when nothing else is funny. The heavy wood veneer also takes me back to a bygone age. But the rest, including the cruise control, feels fresh.

    That’s the real surprise with the 450SEL 6.9. It might be an icon, but it’s a car that can hang with modern executive saloons. It’s a classic that simply doesn’t make any demands on the driver beyond a simple adjustment in driving style to cope with tight bends. In short, it’s a 40-year-old car you could drive every day that will still put a smile on your face when you flatten the throttle. There aren’t too many of those in this world.

    ALTERNATIVES

    Jaguar XJ12

    It’s fast enough to put a smile on your face, so if you can’t stand the thought of buying a Mercedes, the Jaguar will be more than enough fun. What’s more, you’ll be buying British.

    Bigger wheels are about the only giveaway that this is not a standard 450 SEL, especially if you remove the 6.9 badge.

    Target price £14k
    Target price £15k

    Above, man with smile on face, having just flattened the throttle.

    Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 vs. #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow

    Much slower, more luxurious and with that quintessential English charm, the Rolls-Royce is a stylish alternative if you don’t give two hoots about performance.

    Yes, cloth upholstery. In a car chosen by plutocrats, heavyweight politicians, music superstars and Telly Savalas. David Lee Roth thought it looked better with a skull and crossbones. James Hunt said it looked like a taxi.

    Rolls-Royce and Bentley owners may sneer at the M-B approach to car interiors, but it’s comfortable and long-lasting.

    Select ‘S’ and you’ll appreciate that 420lb ft of torque. Three-dial convention, and a few more warning lights.

    The 6.9-litre engine is handbuilt, has aluminium cylinder heads and drinks petrol at the rate of 10mpg.

    SPECIFICATIONS

    ENGINE 6834cc/V8/SOHC #M100
    POWER 286bhp @ 4250rpm
    TORQUE 420lb ft @ 3000rpm
    MAXIMUM SPEED 140mph
    0-60MPH 7.4sec
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 10-15mpg
    TRANSMISSION RWD, three-speed auto


    OIL CAPACITY
    ENGINE 12.4 litres
    GEARBOX 8 litres
    AXLE 4.8 litres
    OIL GRADE
    ENGINE Castrol Classic XL20w/50
    GEARBOX Castrol Dexron 11
    AXLE Castrol Axle Z


    WHAT TO PAY

    CONCOURS £30,000
    NICE £20,000
    USABLE £12,500
    PROJECT £1000
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    50 years #Mercedes-Benz S-Class, model series #Mercedes-Benz-W108 , #Mercedes-Benz-W116 , #Mercedes-Benz-W126 , #Mercedes-Benz-W140 . Connoisseurs know what we write: it's all about the automobile Oberhaus. We compare four generations of the S-Class. Which series has the most comfort, which is for everyday use at which the best investment? Me(h)rcedes 50 years #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class .

    Experts know what we are writing - W108, W116, W126, W140: Click here around mobile Oberhaus. Four generations of the S-Class, four luxury. Who is the best sedan from the home team? And what can and should be (yet) afford? it Does not work.

    At the top of automotive heaven shines for over 100 years a particularly bright star: Mercedes-Benz. The skill of the Swabian brand has always represented the S-Class: more Mercedes does not go. In her first drove respectable businessmen later less reputable half Welter and nowadays many trendy hipsters who succumbs to the charm of the old bourgeois art technology. 108, 116, 126, 140 - with these numbers we drove always anticipate. True to the back current Mercedes slogan: the best or nothing. And who is today among the south-classics of the best?

    W108 - the vertical as a design element, the predecessor of the W108 is divided the body of the produced since 1959 "tailfin" - series. However, the unit body no longer met the increased demands of the Mercedes-clientele soon. Therefore, there was the end of 1965 a new upper class that was indeed almost the same size as its predecessor, but not equal to lean worked. Primarily this was due to the lower by six centimetre’s (2 ½ in) roofline and the disappearance of Peilkanten at the stern. The W108/ #Mercedes-Benz-W109 was released, the extended version V108 came six months later and offered the guests Fond ten centimetre’s more legroom. First, the W108 offered only with the reamed to 2.5 and 2.8-liter displacement six-cylinder engine from the 220. That was enough for 130 to 170 hp at the rear wheels of the single-joint swing axle, which is also inherited from its predecessor. Especially the 250S proved initially but as vulnerable: He was too hot and sometimes ate the piston. As a replacement more often or 2.8-liter fuel-efficient diesel engines were installed. Only new piston rings made of molybdenum extended the life expectancy of the small first molar. Those who wanted more power, had to wait #1968 to summer.

    Then the exception model of the series appeared: the 300 SEL 6.3 with the V8 from the 600th Affordable were later the 280 SE 3.5 and 300 SEL 3.5 (200hp DIN / 218hp SAE), which were known internally as W109. Gearbox side there were four courses, which are operated on the steering wheel or via joystick lever, and if desired an automatic. Until the end of 1972 almost 250,000 copies were built. Then it was time for a worthy successor. The term S-Class was the W108 the way after the fact, in the advertisement for the Mercedes W220 series #1998 levels.

    Mercedes-Benz W116 - earlier was more tinsel As early as the autumn of #1966 , shortly after the publication of the W108, the development work began on its successor. A first case: In development and design computers were used. In August 1972, the production of the W116 was on, but the official presentation in Paris took place at the motor show in September. On display were the first models 280S and SE and the 350SE. The engines were known, but new was the design of the W116. In the flat front, the broadband headlights touched the radiator grille. The car is 5.5 centimeters wide and as much longer, but lower by 1.5 centimeters. Total citations of predecessor are recognizable, but the W116 is an optically completely new automobile. Concession to the traditionalists were the twin chrome bumpers. Priorities of the developers at the time were the driving behavior and safety. For the former, there was a new front axle from the experimental C111 Wankel car and a modern rack and pinion steering.

    The diagonal swing axle rear came principle the Roadster R107, which was developed in parallel. Due to the accident prevention are abundant PVC in the interior and oversized roof pillars, sills and reinforced doors. Ever seemed the complex structure with its deformable ends and the stable cell solely dedicated to one purpose: the accident protection. Headrests and seat belts were initially although only at an additional cost, although the W116 in two disciplines is far classified over the then average. Expensive it was for customers from spring 1973, when the #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL (V116) with 225hp (DIN) and standard three-speed automatic was published. The top model in the series was handed in from the autumn of 1975 the 6.9 was, the legendary 286hp. Top 230 km/h made it the fastest production saloon of its time for the W116 in W126 - was elegant as a gentleman with a hat The W126 series from December 1979, of course, at the Sindelfingen plant, produces. But because the development already began eight years earlier, the Swabians could adequately respond to the oil crisis of 1973. The new S-Class was indeed more economical, but not a piggy bank. A lot of money has been invested in the design of lightweight, economical engines and low air resistance.

    With success: Depending on the model and features of the new up to 280 kg was easier. The mostly just updated drives were relieved, because they, in the case of the eight-cylinder engine for this series were even new designs made of light alloy and. Plenty of work in the wind tunnel brought an improvement in the cw value of 0.41 to 0.36 compared to its predecessor - the 1979 was a top value for a four-door sedan of this size. The chassis has been slightly revised, adopted in principle by the ancestors W116.

    From June 1980 it again gave a long-wheelbase version, the SEL, and called the end of 1991 a chic coupé, SEC. The top version was the 560SEL with initially 272 hp (with Kat 242, at the end of 300 hp), which was published in autumn 1985. At the same time a facelift took place. Now it was in the base models 280S, a five-speed gearbox and series except the 560 SEL models for all the catalyst operation were prepared. Optical lost the plastic side strips their flutes and the known from the options list Baroque Alus evaded alloy wheels Gullydeckel-style. About 810,000 sedans in the W126 series were produced, the last drove in early 1992 from the home team in the world. Mercedes-Benz W140 - Big-Benz not only for bosses We do not want here to intone prejudice canon. No, we want to praise: For more comfortable you can eigentac Lich not traveling with a car. The interior is as big as a zeppelin hangar - only much more convenient. The lush seats one likes to call club chairs. Nonsense!

    Club chairs are not electrically heated verstellwie or even massaging the back of the pilot. And they are seldom so pleasant kommod as the armchairs of the Big-Benz. The many electrical helpers culminate in a click of a button from the inside adjustable interior mirror, which is not really needed, because the rear-view mirrors anyway remembers the stored seat position of the chauffeur and automatically brings in position. And there's more on the miracle-Benz marvel: tempo-dependent parameter steering, electronic five-speed automatic, engines with four-valve technology and adjustable camshaft, ESP, voice control system, Parktronic and, and, and. 1981 began the development of the W140.


    Ten years later the Swabians then showed their masterpiece at the Geneva show. 1992 was followed by the 140V and a fairly massive geratenes Coupé. That same year also saw the first facelift. Thus, the Board responded to the early criticism of clientele. From the summer of 1993 it was then on 500 S on the trunk lid and the spring on the Schwaben presented finally the 140s-Mopf. After slimming optical thickness looked pleasing. But his end was already decided. Although happened to him in 1996 a small facelift ( #ASR , Sidebags, rain sensor series, Xenon headlights surcharge), but two years later ended after about 432,000 copies, the era of the first controversial Big-Benz.

    Comparison
    It has always been so: people rarely buy just one car. You acquire an image. Because they should be seen by neighbors, colleagues and friends as they want it. Like no other car was and is an S-class prosperity, prestige, charisma. But of course for innovation and technology leadership. Who pays three times a normal car, expect top performance. And rightly so. And was not disappointed at #Mercedes : Whether 108, 116, 126 or 140: Each car is in his time - and beyond - the automobile standard meter on which had work off the competition.

    So it is not about simple A-to-B-driving, but a way of life. The is still impressively fulfilled also at the present time. Even a W108 is good for your daily commute to the office. But only in the summer. Not that he would not move forward in the winter - but he is too good for salt attacks on the stylish sheet. His appearance is impressive, the space herrschaftlich. Huge luggage compartment, the interior is reminiscent of a saloon compartment of the Southern Railway Company in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And almost as much space is also offered. If in the middle tray, the optional seat cushion is inserted, fit the front and rear pure three passengers.

    The driver can see through clearly drawn round instruments for long hood, a chrome star stands proudly at the end of the driving wind. Turn the key, immediately whispers of straight-six meek as a novice behind monastery walls. Loosen the long lever right laid down in the dry Bakelitvolant, brake, do gently Gas ... already floating the W108 from there. Of course, not to hunt through a quick slalom course, but as good as comfortable straight drove no end of the sixties.

    That should remain so until the appearance of the successor. But the W116 expands the comfort zone. Mass is to be replaced in the car set-up by nothing. And heavy is the first time in the house Daimler-Benz also so-called S-class. This is the baroque Chromzierrat as the double bumpers, but also the security owed. The in-house safety Pope, Béla Barényi had expended all his art. For passive safety include controlled deformable body ends, stable passenger cell, thick umschäumte fittings. For active safety ensure, among other things four disc brakes and at the end of his career, for the first time in Großserienbau, antilock brakes ABS. The W116 is like carved out of the proverbial Vollen. And so it goes also. Not that he would be cumbersome (perhaps as little 280 S). No, it's this rich road, the secure feeling of inmates to make almost all the bumps downright dull. From the engine compartment is a deep rumble is heard in most fierce sprint at the V8ern. Otherwise one hears little. From today's perspective a 116er is perhaps the most lavish and least timeless cars of this comparison. Completely indisputable, however: the classic Bruno Sacco-elegance of W126.

    Also it was a bit controversial. For bumpers made of recyclable plastic did not want to give up traditional values all customers. The S-Class of 80 is a child of the oil crisis. Streamlined, light-footed, efficient. That the Steering basically worked so imprecise as its predecessor, did not fall to continue. But the mixture of lightness and solidity made of the success. The W126 is from the rider quasi the most of W108 and W116. A real development so. Agile, better comfort, solid processed. At the same time of these understated elegance, as they can emit only old money really. This works even today. Featuring a landscaped W126 in muted blue Hanseaten you can still casually go to the Alster pre Atlantic Hotel.

    However, the grand entrance is who pulls up with a V140. He would be the ideal company car for scandal-priest Tebartz-van Elst. The picture also therefore fits so well because of the large car like a moving bishopric. This S-Class can really no question unanswered.

    Anyone starting out, boss. And cares little about what others think. On the route you realize: For a two-ton ship of the W140 is handy. Only when braking turns out moving masses which the pilot. His true role in the car history, the 140 not yet found. By "too fat" it is certainly adequately described in any way. Which is the best S-Class?

    It is impossible to make a fair choice here. All are technologically feasible for their time. All are popular as design icons of their era classics. Okay, maybe the W140 takes it a little more time. But he deserved it. Therefore, we would still have a good back up and put away him for now. When the W126 choice would be clear: once Please 500SE. We love the harmonious proportions of the "short". In a little more budget, we would choose a SEC with the sophisticated seat-belt, but that's another story. When W116, the ultimate decision may lead to properly bang only to over-Benz: a dramatic 450 SEL 6.9.

    Pragmatically, of course, a 350 or 450SE in terms of performance is more than enough. Only the W108 we took a meager 250S. Because he so beautifully plain and in the accountant equipment is a real value for bargains.
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