I recently read a report by Esurance which indicated that green cars were the least common amongst all cars owned. Now, truth be told I’m not sure how much accuracy or scientific research there was to this study. Perhaps my skepticism is rooted in my history with British cars and my family’s history of having green cars; I count 6 that I remember. Or it could be that my automotive youth matured in the early 1990s, when it seemed that only green cars were produced. Either way, it’s rather irrelevant, because if owning a green car sets you apart from the beigeness that is the normal family sedan I’ll gladly accept the most usual tone in the automotive world. Further, there are some great greens out there to enjoy; Viper, Mint and Signal from Porsche, Ragusa Metallic from Audi, Oak and Montana from Volkswagen, Tiaga, Java and Urban from BMW, and from Mercedes-Benz there were some neat tones available on the 450SEL – colors like Citris Green, Nickle Green and what I think is Moss Green on this model:
It’s been a while since we saw Paul’s near perfect Silver Euro 450SEL 6.9 during V8 week last fall. These super-sedans established a trend Mercedes-Benz continues today; stuffing the largest V8 they can find into the largest sedan they can build. For many, it’s a winning combination – while the 6.9 was no slalom-assassin, there was simply nothing else that came close to this combination in the 1970s. Remember, this was the time period where the fastest Audi had around 113 horsepower in Europe. Then there was BMW, producing the 733 which made the Audi look downright slow but was still nearly 100hp shy of the Mercedes. But 1979 signaled the end of an era and the start of a new one, with two turbocharged sedans introduced signaling the future: Audi would release the 200 5T Turbo and BMW the 745i Turbo, and while both still couldn’t come close to the power output of the 6.9 they were much more efficient, modern motors. It wasn’t just the era of the giant motor that was on its way out, either, as the aging W116 was also on the verge of being retired in favor of the newer and more stylish W126 – a car that subsequently has become such a legend even in its own time. It’s easy therefore to discount the importance and significance of a car like the 6.9, but what it did was show us what would happen when engineers dared to let their hair down. Today there’s a lower mile example on Ebay:
Here is an oddity for your consideration. The mighty Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 remains quite a car today and the 560SEC represents some of the best of an old school Benz, however put them together and perhaps you are taking away from each. This isn’t the first time someone has decided to combine 6.9 parts with a W126 chassis, Google Sbarro Mercedes for instance, as with their creations results are mixed.
When it comes to V8s and Mercedes-Benz, the original 300SEL 6.3 is undoubtedly king. However, when it comes to capacity, the 450SEL 6.9 is the top dog. It still holds the title of the largest eight cylinder engine Mercedes has shoved into a production car this side of World War II and in its day it was a revelation of exactly how rapid a big luxury sedan could be. This big lump put out 285 bhp, a number which some say is conservative and 405 lb ft of torque. It also featured Mercedes’ first application of self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension, popularized by Citroën. Anti-lock brakes were also an option, and this 6.9 for sale outside of Dortmund, Germany represents one of the first production vehicles to feature this advanced technology.
On offer is a 450SEL 6.9, it has undergone an extensive restoration in our workshop. Besides a large inspection including replacement of several wear parts, the paint was restored in the original color and all the rubber seals were replaced. The body is rust free. The vehicle also features leather and burl wood that are in completely original condition with a beautiful patina. The hydro-pneumatic suspension functions reliably and accurately. There were also five new Michelin XWX mounted on obsolete, original Fuchs wheels in the dimension 215/70VR14.
Finish: 735 astralsilber
Padding: 201 black leather upholstery
470 anti-lock braking system
259 radio Becker Grand Prix cassette full stereo
502 Rear view mirror right
260 delete model designation on the left
531 automatic antenna
261 delete 6.9 badge
640 five alloy wheels
215 Hydropneumatic suspension
248 electrically heated rear window laminated glass
570 front folding armrest
286 luggage rack on the driver and passenger backrests
330 center console with storage compartment
584 four power windows
400 folding armrest in the rear
420 automatic transmission, 4-speed floor shift
731 wood trim burr walnut
430 rear headrests
600 headlight wiper system
812 rear speaker stereo with a fader
Bold = Optional
We offer this fully equipped legend of the seventies, including new HU / AU, H-plates decrease and 12 months warranty. Sale under § 25a, differenzbesteuert. Subject to prior sale.
Christian Nikolai, Mercedes-Benz Classic Ostendorf
Tel: 02381 425-732
Renowned automotive journalist Brock Yates was handed a 6.9 by Mercedes-Benz where he drove it from Manhattan to Road Atlanta. When he got to the track, Yates drove the car for another 40 laps or 100 miles. The car didn’t skip a beat. But the price of perfection at the time did not come cheap. The list price was about $40,000. Today, that would equate to over $150,000 in today’s money. The 6.9 has never commanded as much as the original beast, the 6.3, but values are the strongest of any W116 Benz. Good runners can still be had for well under $20,000, with the very best having a potential to crest $30,000 to $40,000. Priced as it is, this 6.9 would only grab the attention of a monied collector, but even at that point, it’s way ahead of the market.
One of my favorites here. Check out some of our previous posts for more info about the mighty 6.9. Though I’m biased due to having owned a Euro spec 6.9 it is safe to say that this truly is one of the greatest sedans ever built.
This U.S. spec model isn’t as pretty or sleek as it was intended to be from the factory due to U.S. safety regulations it still retains the iconic W116 look. The U.S. quad round headlights have been replaced with Euro versions, but ugly bumpers remain. The U.S. engine is down a bit on power from the Euro engine, but the 6.9 liters of V8 still produces gobs of torque, 400 + lb-ft.
The car here has traveled 155,000 miles. The hydropneumatic suspension, an expensive set of parts if neglected, appears to have the car riding at the proper height.
What is confusing to me is how the seller seems to have first listed this car as a standard 450SEL and then only added a slight mention of it being a 6.9. Perhaps this is because the car has been debadged on the trunk, one of those great factory options from Mercedes to allow you to really be the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing on the streets in the late 70s. This could be a bit worrisome, this is a specialized car with a few quirks over a standard 4.5 liter W116, namely the suspension, that really should be looked at by someone in the know. The driveline is fairly robust in these, but with all that torque you want to make sure transmission, diff, etc. are all in good shape. The torque is also fatal to flex disks on the driveshaft. I also always raise an eyebrow when I see an otherwise nice looking 6.9 end up at used car lot. 6.9s tend to trade hands owner to owner or though specialist dealers. A 6.9 showing up at an average used car lot could mean something benign like a car that came out of an estate being auctioned off, but may also mean its a basket case whose owner just wanted to get any sort of trade in value for. In this case the seller states the car comes from a women looking to sell her recently deceased husband’s car.
The car looks well maintained, that engine bay is very clean. The seller claims it spun up to 100 MPH without trouble on the highway and believe me with a well running 6.9 that really is effortless.
Without the need for the owner to make top dollar on this car it has been placed for sale with no reserve. We’ll have a chance to see some true market value on this car. Bidding is at a paltry $1,626. I’d go $5,000 on this based on the photos and minimal description alone. If two bidders really check this one out and it drives as clean as it looks a price closer to $10,000 wouldn’t be unreasonable. This is a collector car and prices are only going up on nice unabused examples.
The ultimate autobahn cruiser of its time and then some. Nothing could touch the Mercedes 6.9 in terms of might and comfort. Following in the tradition of the Mercedes 6.3, this was also the fastest four door sedan in the world when new. 100 MPH on the highway could be enjoyed as long as the fuel in the tank held out. The 6.9 liter (417 cu. in.) engine made bursts into the 140s attainable if needed.
The car’s impressive hydro-pneumatic suspension, operating at over 2000 psi provided silky smooth road manners and kept the car on an even plain on hard launches and braking. The system is however expensive to service if not maintained properly. Unmaintained 6.9s can be spotted by their lowrider like appearance as the suspension settles. Vacuum operated cruise, door locks, and trunk were nice features as well. Also of note is the car’s impressive 12 (!) quart dry sump lubrication system. This allowed for better oiling during a spirited workout and made it possible to cram the monster engine under the hood. The oil reservoir is mounted near the fender instead of in a pan underneath. Taking this car in to your local quick oil change place was not considered a viable option as you would either end up with a drained transmission pan or an engine short half a case of oil.
Genuine AMG vehicles of this era are hard to document. The factory didn’t keep great records so knowing a cars history is important.
is an interesting case since it has been restored and has a new engine rebuild. The seller seems to know his stuff in terms of the 6.9, so likely there is no deal to be found here, just a chance to take ownership of mighty Merc. This car is also unique in that it is a a U.S. delivery Euro car. It has the good looking Euro headlights, but does that mean it has the Euro engine horsepower. With the new pistons it probably doesn’t matter. It also has leather which Euro cars did not have. Cali 6.9s were restricted down to 250 horsepower with emissions garbage. While full blown Euro spec cars hit nearly 300 with a meaty 420 lb ft of torque. Torque figures like that were scarcely seen anywhere outside muscle cars or dump trucks, neither of which could compete with a 6.9 in terms of all around enjoyment.
This car has some neat AMG options like the correct AMG steering wheel and 300 KPH speedometer, as well as an old style AMG trunk badge. Mercedes offered the 6.9 with debadging as an option. You could go super stealth with nothing on the trunk lid or just leave the small 6.9 tag minus the 450SEL label.
Full on AMG 6.9s with complete mono color body kit, blacked out trim, the Penta wheels and engine add ons like AMG cams are extremely rare and extremely good looking creatures. This one definitely qualifies as a stage 1 AMG, but doesn’t have the full treatment.
Having owned a full euro spec 6.9 I can attest with great vigor to the pleasure of driving these cars. The road manners and power are just amazing particularly considering the time period these cars were produced, think gas shortage and American luxo-barges.
There is plenty of information online about the 6.9 if you want to go look, but quickly here is a look at the 6.9 suspension being operated manually (the lever sits on top of the steering wheel):
and here is a link to the famous Brock Yates article about his experience thrashing a show room stock U.S. spec car around Road Atlanta for 100 miles. This is a fantastic article and reminds us that all cars are not created equal. Make sure to note the part about getting 5.9 MPG.
Below I’ve included a picture from one of my vintage AMG brochures, one of the only AMG brochures to show a 6.9, and a Flickr photo showing how the full 6.9 AMG package compares to this eBay listing in terms of looks. The sturdy lines of the 116 chassis Benz with AMG accoutrement in my mind are still some of the best and coupled with the formidable engine this is a package that 30 years later is still surprisingly sophisticated.
Lastly just for fun here are some 6.9s in the movies showing their stuff.
Ronin, scroll to about 4:50 for the good stuff:
Lost Highway, gets good about 1:00, R for language:
And of course Claude Lelouch’s C’etait un Rendez Vous, the film that started the “getaway” movie genre. Though the sound dubbed in is that of a Ferrari the car actually used was a 6.9. View the making of video to see the 6.9 with the camera mount.
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