1979 Mercedes-Benz 280S

Produced between 1972 and 1980, the W116 was the first car from Mercedes to officially bear the name “S-class.” Representing the pinnacle of luxury, safety and German engineering in the period, American customers could choose from several gasoline-powered V8s: a 3.5 liter unit in the 350SE/L, a 4.5 liter unit in the 450 SE/L and a gargantuan 6.9 liter unit in the infamous, high performance 6.9 SEL. But in Europe, the car was also available in base spec as the 280S, powered by a carbureted (rather than fuel injected) version of the M110 2.8 liter straight six.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 280S on UK 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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1978 Mercedes-Benz 350SE

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Another week, another Mercedes with a bunch of strange things that I try to make sense of. This handsome 1978 350SE located in Tennessee caught my attention with its slim euro bumpers and other little details that makes this car stand out from the rest of the pack. So let’s take a look at what makes this W116 so special and a little bit odd.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 350SE on eBay

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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

1The 450SEL 6.9 was the top of the range, high performance version of the W116 S-class, produced between 1975 and 1981. To make it, Mercedes took an ordinary W116 and shoehorned the largest V8 into its engine bay that they could find: a mammoth 6.9 liter unit making 250 hp and 360 ft-lb of torque in US spec. They then added a sophisticated hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that gave these cars a dual personality. On ordinary roads they had a magic carpet-like ride that would soak up bumps in a manner entirely befitting a W116, while on the track they would handle far more nimbly and capably than their size would have led you to believe. The result was an early luxury super sedan; a 70s incarnation of today’s souped up AMG S-classes. But unlike their modern counterparts, on the outside the 6.9s didn’t look any different to the rest of the W116 lineup. Distinguished only by a discreet “6.9” badge on the trunk lid, the understated menace of these cars meant they quickly found favor among the sorts of people who wanted to go very fast and had lots of money, but didn’t always want you to know just how much money they had. Driven by Hollywood moguls, gangsters and foreign dictators alike, these cars were expensive, fast and technologically advanced.

Jumping forward to today, these cars have rather languished on the classic car market. You can still find tired examples on Craigslist costing only a few thousand dollars, often resting on their emergency bump stops as a result of failed suspension, with faded paint and sad interiors. Lately however, nice 6.9s appear to be climbing in value, with more and more nice condition examples coming to market with large price tags attached. And that leads me to today’s car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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1975 Mercedes-Benz 450SE

450SE1I don’t see many W116s on the roads these days, although they do seem to be ubiquitous in certain kinds of Hollywood movies (usually those set in the middle east, in which they feature as the preferred ride of the terrorist bad guys). Produced between 1972 and 1980, the W116 was the flagship of the Mercedes lineup during the period and was the first car to be officially referred to as an “S-class.” Penned in the 1960s, the design looks remarkably more modern than it really is, probably because many of the car’s styling cues were carried over onto models built for a decade or two to come.

This particular example isn’t the range topping, high performance 6.9 SEL model. Instead, it’s a short wheel base, low mileage version of the ordinary 450. Nonetheless, it looks glorious and stately, which is exactly how an S-class should look.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1975 Mercedes-Benz 450SE on eBay

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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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1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SE

In the annals of S-class history, the W116 of the 1970s doesn’t get too much respect, with exception of the mighty 6.9, one of the largest engines ever to find a home in a post-World War II Mercedes-Benz. If you’re not after one of these thirsty beasts, perhaps target one of the lesser engined variants, if you could consider the 450SE “lesser” engined. This short-wheelbase 1974 example for sale in The Netherlands spent most of its life in France. Looking resplendent in Silver-green metallic over a rich and inviting velour interior, I think it’s about time we start taking this seventies S-class a bit more seriously.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SE at Ruyl Classics

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

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The W116 S-class is one of those Mercedes-Benzes that seems to have been a bit forgotten, sandwiched between two great generations of luxury sedans. This is the case with many cars from the 1970s, but consider just how advanced this car was for its time. This would be the first Mercedes to feature four-wheel anti-lock brakes, in addition to the usual safety accouterments that consumers had become used to from this manufacturer. The W126 S-class that debuted at the dawn of the 1980s would carry the executive car torch even further than before, but that isn’t to say the W116 isn’t without its merits. We’ll take a look at this late production 280SE for sale in Portugal, in very nice original condition fitted with the injected 2.8 liter M110 inline-6.

Click for details: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on eBay

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S-Classic Showdown: 1979 300SD v. 1977 450SEL 6.9

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300SD on eBay

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1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 with 48,900 Miles

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:

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

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