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Tag: 450SEL

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL

In my modest collection, my oldest car is 1980 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I don’t drive it much at all, a few hundred miles a year at most, but I can’t seem to let it go. Just this past Sunday I gave it a really deep wash and applied a coat of wax on it for the upcoming winter, and then thought there is no way I am selling this car after I was all done with it. It is literally the definition of “They don’t make them like they used to” in terms of Mercedes-Benz products. The car will be 40 years old soon, but it still drives and functions like a 4 year-old car despite over 225,000 miles on it. The flaws of the chassis are few, with the biggest one being a climate system they outsourced from Chrysler, of all brands, which turned out to be total garbage. Imagine that!

Today’s car, 1980 405SEL up for sale in California, seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. At first I thought it was a Euro car as it has the Euro headlights, bumpers, and plate holders, but peeking inside I’m seeing a speedometer in MPH and the aforementioned garbage automatic climate control. What is going on here?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL on eBay

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1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 Euro-Spec

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 – which we sort of just looked at. 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 horsepower. 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: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL

As they years go by, it seems less and less likely that the W116 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will get its due. The newest examples are now 40 years-old, so if they aren’t in full blown classic status might now, they might not ever be. Don’t get me wrong, the best of the best examples still sell for very good money, but this is clearly not a case of rising tides lifts all ships. The holy-grail 6.9 cars struggle to sell if they aren’t in perfect condition both cosmetically and mechanically, because honestly they just are worth the trouble and money of fooling with at this stage. The non-6.9 V8 cars seem to struggle because they aren’t the 6.9 and why invest in one of those for when not much more money you buy a 6.9. I even say this as someone who owns and loves a W116, a 300SD no less, but I see the reality in owning these cars. So naturally when I see a seemingly nice W116 come up sale, I always want to take a peek to see what is out there. This 1978 450SEL up for sale outside of Chicago looks nice enough, but I have some questions.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL on eBay

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1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

The holy trinity of M100-powered Mercedes-Benz cars, the 600, 300SEL 6.3, and 450SEL 6.9, are not for the causal or faint of heart owners. The buy-in is expensive, the parts are expensive, the labor is expensive, everything is expensive. These are not cars you can stick in the corner of the garage under a cover with a battery tender hooked up only to drive it once a month, if that. They all use extremely complicated suspension systems that will leave you weeping if you walk out in the garage and see the car suddenly resting on its rocker panels. Despite support from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, lots of parts have been no longer available for many years and aren’t coming back, so your only hope it to pray that it doesn’t break and if it does, hope it can be rebuilt. There is a very small, but passionate group of owners of these cars in the M100 club, but their membership is decreasing as the years going on as younger generations aren’t interested in spending sometimes five-figures for routine repairs on these cars.

If you are brave enough to dip your toe into the world of dry-sump engine lubrication and doors heavy enough to slice your fingers clean off if they get caught in them, then the 450SEL 6.9 is where you want to start. Full disclosure, I own a W116 chassis, in non-6.9 trim, so I am a bit biased on these, but also extremely realistic as I’ve worked on a 6.9 extensively and lived to tell about. The hydraulic suspension system is sturdy, but again, very pricey if something goes wrong, and the same can be said for the 6.9 engine itself. The non-6.9 bits are some of the best materials you could ever ask for in a car, sans the god-forsaken US-spec HVAC, so it is for sure a give and take situation. Buy a well-sorted example and stay diligent with the maintenance, it won’t be so bad. However, buy a project and have fun explaining to your wife and kids why Santa won’t be visiting your house this year. Thankfully the car I’m looking at today, a rare European-spec 1977, looks to have all the major things looked after and is it relatively good health. The thing is, I don’t think the owner wants to let go of it. At least for not what I think it is worth.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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King Juan Carlos I of Spain’s 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

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.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on Mobile.de

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1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL

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.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL on eBay

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1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL

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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.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL at Küng Classics

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U.S. v. Euro Double Take: 1977 and 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9s

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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