Some of my favorite cars to look at are special builds from manufactures to serve a specific purpose or person. One of those purposes is diplomat cars and all the crazy modifications they receive compared to the normal civilian version. Today, we have an already special 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 that was modified for Juan Carlos I during his rule as King of Spain. This M100-powered S-Class is fully armored and a rear sunroof was added so he and his wife, Queen Sofía, could stand on the rear seats to wave at people during parades and events. This W116 was also equipped with the customary flag holders on the front fenders and a siren to alert all the mere normal citizens to get out-of-the-way. But now, Juan Carlos I is 80 years-old and while he still gets driven around in a S-Class, he also prefers some faster toys too.
I get really excited when I come across a nice W116 Mercedes-Benz. Full disclosure, it is probably because I own one and enjoy it a lot. When I caught a glimpse of this 1973 450SEL up for sale in Chicago, my ears really perked up. Being a 1973, the first year for the W116 in North America, it meant that this car had its proper slim bumpers and not the diving boards they put on these cars from 1974 to 1980. Not only that, but I saw some red leather peeking out from inside the car. Now I was really interested! Come to find out, this 450SEL had just 54,000 miles on and looks to be in exceptional shape. Of course the gears in my head started turning and I started to guess how much this prime example was going to command. When I found out, I wasn’t too surprised, but I also knew that this car wasn’t going to be a quick sale just because of what the W116 is.
I am a really big fan of “time capsule” cars. Not barn finds or cars that have sat and haven’t moved in X number of years, but actual cars that have low mileage, original everything and are ready to be driven normally just like you purchased it from a dealer’s lot. Today’s car, a 1975 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL, is one of those time capsules. This W116 checks in with a hair over 29,000 miles and looks every part of an original. But this isn’t your ordinary 450SEL, it’s what hides inside those bank vault-like doors that really sets this car apart from the rest.
Engine: 4.5 liter V-8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 29,109 mi
Preservation Class 450SEL. 29,109 original miles. All-original, unrestored 2-owner Type W116. First owner until 2014. All-original paint, interior, bright trim, etc.
Sunroof, original books, tool kit, the original license plate from 1974, and a copy of the original title. A/C performs like a contemporary car. Nothing has been replaced except for maintenance items, nothing modified or changed. Serviced up-to-date, with repair orders back to 1982. Must see and drive to appreciate. For the person who wants the best.
See In Northern Virginia adjacent to Dulles International Airport and Reston, VA
Open those doors and welcome straight into 1975. This car is business on the outside, party on the inside. All red interior is very rare on the W116 and I’ve only seen it a few times over the years, but none even come close to the condition of this interior. This interior is so red that in some of the photos, the seller’s camera has trouble focusing because it gets lost in how consistent and solid the red is.…
Boy, do I have a car for you today. If you are in the market for a car and still haven’t found what you’re looking for, maybe it’s time to put your heart and desire into none of than U2 lead signer Bono’s 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL. This magnificent W116 features a cowhide-patterned interior that would feel right at home in Miami or even The Playboy Mansion. If that wasn’t enough it, it also has a stereo system so large that will last you until the end of the world. Also let us rejoice, as if you are at a red light with a few seconds to spare, you can talk on the 1990s car phone but everyone that dials you will be an unknown caller. So are you ready to rise up, maybe even levitate? Or just continue to sleep like a baby tonight and let this 450SEL sit for another day?
Engine: 4.5 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Price: Buy It Now £50,000 ($65,134)
To celebrate 30 years Joshua Tree, one of the best albums ever made
“Fitted with a pounds 15,000 sound system and cow-hide interior”
Do you want to buy piece of Rock an roll memorabilia.
Bono’s first car he got when he got few bob 🙂
He first bought just after U2 recorded the break through album Boy,
It’s very unique car Mercedes – 450 SEL in 1980’s
“body in good condition engine needs work”
Here is the thing with celebrity cars, they don’t mean squat for the value unless you are an absolute mega-star. Everyone wants to believe their cars once owned by a famous person 16 years and 4 owners ago suddenly quadruples it’s value.…
Last week I checked out a 1978 350SE that was chock-full of little goodies but didn’t really past muster as a good buy. Today we have another W116 that seems to check all the boxes of of what a proper 1970’s S-Class should bring to the table as a nice driver and possible collector car. Located in Switzerland, the black paint is only the tip of the iceberg as to what this 450SEL offers. So let’s check out this blood-red big Benz.
Tuner Tuesday posts usually focus on cars that have been turned up a few notches by aftermarket companies, but for some time Mercedes-Benz did all the magic internally. Indeed, if you go back to the 1920s and 1930s, Mercedes-Benz had a habit of taking the largest motor they could reliably produce and sticking it in their luxury cars. Such was where the legend of the 500 and 540K specials came from, but while the War postponed many further developments Mercedes-Benz were back at it in the W109 300SEL 6.3. Apparently not satisfied by that factory hot rod, engineers conceived its replacement with an even larger 6.9 liter V8 – mind you, in the midst of an international fuel crisis. Churning out 286 horsepower from the now legendary M100 V8, the 450SEL 6.9 was effectively a land-bound aircraft carrier and about as powerful. Long ignored by the market, the 6.9s have heated up over the past few years as large classic Mercedes-Benz models have become increasingly sought after and the rare 450SEL with the big motor is a solid draw. Today I have two examples to consider – a desirable European version and a less powerful and not quite as attractive American-spec car. Which is the one to choose?
For some time, the W116 has been stuck in no man’s land value wise; not as new or attractive as the W126 that replaced it, and not as classic a design as the W108 series had been. It’s not that it’s an unattractive car at all, but unfortunately it’s bookended by arguably better looking models and unfortunately – outside of some real stunners – the value of Mercedes-Benz sedans falls below coupes and convertibles. For a classic Mercedes-Benz enthusiast on a budget, then, the W116 offers a lot of vintage Mercedes-Benz build quality and longevity on a budget. There are plenty to choose from, too – lest we not forget this is a S-Class Mercedes, so the price was stratospheric when new and even lightly used. Option out a 6.9 to the tune of around $50,000 in 1980, and you’d have the equivalent buying power of nearly triple that amount today – roughly $143,500 in 2015 money. And they were laden with top-end technology for the time; recently I covered a series of Volkswagen Rabbits, where everything outside of the tires was an optional extra. In the S-Class, you had electric nearly everything, electronic climate control and in the case of the 6.9 you threw in hydropneumatic suspension. These were, and still are, impressive vehicles, many of which were maintained to a high level yet are available for a fraction of their original investment. Today I’m taking a look at the slowest and fastest of the bunch – a 300SD and a 450SEL 6.9. Which is the classic S-Class that woos you?
The W116 has been a star on the rise in the Mercedes-Benz world; long unappreciated and forgotten, like most of the models in the company’s history a great recognition of the first “S” Class means that prices have been steadily increasing. The most valuable in terms of collectables really seem to be the 6.9 models, for obvious reasons. Perhaps the original bad boy super sedan, the 6.9 predated cars like the M5 by the best part of a decade. The recipe was simple: take a giant car and insert the largest possible motor. Due to low residual values in the 1980s and 1990s, though, finding a good one can be quite difficult – but today we have quite a gem:
The stellar looking two tone 1978 European specification Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 with unique Ronal Racing 3 piece Turbos is back on eBay, this time with a “Buy It Now” of $30,000. That puts it about about a condition 2 price level by Hagerty’s valuation guide, which overall seems pretty appropriate. Appreciation of these big Benz models is growing and it’s expensive to repair one to properly sorted level. Period mods can go very wrong, but somehow I really love the look of this car – it may be the coolest 6.9 I’ve ever seen. What do you think?
The below post originally appeared on our site July 2, 2014:
What, the 500E AMG 6.0 AND 500SL AMG 6.0 weren’t enough? Okay then, how a 6.9, this time lumped under the long hood of a W116? Well, if I’m honest I’m disappointed, as this spot was originally supposed to be filled by a rare 1990 560SEC. It’s not that the 6.9 isn’t rare, it’s just that particular SEC was a claimed AMG widebody 6.0 with full documentation. The highlighted text brings you to the auction. You know when they put “seller reserves the right to end the auction early”? Well, apparently that’s true. In any event, though I’m fairly disappointed that car disappeared early, it does give us the chance to look at this lovely early European-spec 450SEL 6.9: