While the M5 may have the notoriety of being the first serious super performance sedan, it’s easy to forget that Mercedes-Benz really started the trend. As early as the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz was building some of the fastest large cars in the marketplace. They were expensive, complicated, and beautiful works of engineering. It took a while post-war for both the marketplace and the company to come back to full strength, but two cars created in the midst of an international oil crisis I really think point towards the character of their respective companies. First was BMW’s hard-edged, barely disguised racer for the road, the 3.0CSL. It was expensive, relatively lightweight, stunning to look at and pretty quick to boot – a sporting nature that would carry through to the current generation of BMWs, still considered the benchmark in sporting sedans. On the other side of the fence was the 450SEL 6.9; who else but Mercedes-Benz would put the largest production V8 into a sedan when there was a gas crisis? If the 3.0 shouted about it’s racing prowess, the Mercedes was subtle and understated. Indeed, option number 261 even removed the displacement badge on the rear, and outside of that you’d only see hints of the car’s performance by the bulging tires and slightly more showy exhaust. But stomp on the loud pedal and the best part of 290 horsepower was on tap for you – and this was 1975. Remember 1975? It was when the base Corvette had 165 horsepower and if you wanted to just break 200, the L-82 was your only option at 205 horspower. A full 40% more powerful, the Benz was the match for sports cars of the day in a straight line but offered extreme luxury at the same time:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay
Model: 450SEL 6.9
Engine: 6.9 liter V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 44,000 mi
Price: $55,888 Buy It Now
There were other great firsts on the W116 that have become standard on many luxury and even regular production cars today; optional were things like anti-lock brakes, electric rear seats and heated seats all-around. It’s amazing that these sedans beat the rest of the market by over a decade in many cases; large Audis didn’t come equipped with anti-lock braking until the late 1980s, for example. It’s unfortunate that we don’t know more about this particular example, as there is no description. A bold choice, considering the quite steep asking price. Condition looks great though I wish the chrome fender trim hadn’t been applied, and the blue insides look nearly new. Miles are quite low, but we get no under hood shots of hint at a history of the car. I love the Euro-spec lights up front but after seeing several of the Euro-bumpered cars, it’s a reminder of how large the U.S. units are and how out of place they look to me. Then there’s the price – at $56,000, this car is priced nearly 20% higher than where Hagerty values a condition 1 show car. It’s an impressive example, no doubt – and perhaps every little bit under the engine and bodywork has been replaced or refreshed, making this car “better than new”. But without documentation of why it should be so far ahead of the market, it’s hard to accept the price and lack of description as anything more than a Hail Mary, hoping someone will feel the market on 6.9s will get strong enough to appreciate substantially in the next few years.