The Germans may have failed at world domination - twice - but they've pretty much dominated the executive sedan market for decades. Todays Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercedes Benz is decades old, but comes with a price that could be considered a dominant feature.
Dropping a big engine into a small car is a practice that goes back to the dawn of the motor age, and you can be assured that somewhere out there the owner of a curved dash Olds speculated on the possibility of doing so in hopes of doubling his horsepower to 10. Today's 1977 Mercedes Benz 450 SEL is not what you would call a small car - weighing in at a portly 4,200 lbs, give or take a schnitzel - but this particular one carries the additional demarkation of 6.9, indicating that it possesses the largest V8 the company offered at the time.
The W116 S-class was first introduced in 1972, with a range of engines from cheapskate-pleasing sixes to righteous and authoritative V8s. The S in S-class stood for Sonderklasse, or special, and in comparison to other luxury cars of the day the big Benz certainly could have been considered to have earned that title. That's not to say however that it couldn't be even more special.
The 6.9 designation refers to the M-100 engine sitting behind the traditional three-pointed star topping radiator shell. These 6,814-cc V8 engines were hand built by sausage-eaters named Hans and and were each bench tested before being dropped into the fully-kitted 450 SEL long wheelbase sedan. Featuring a cast iron block and single overhead cams actuating a single intake and exhaust valve per cylinder, the M-100 produced around 250-bhp in U.S. trim. Standard in the big Swabian sled were Mercedes' W3B 050 automatic packing three forward speeds, and a limited slip differential by ZF out back. Holding that big body up is a hydropneumatic suspension licensed from Citroën, and in fact the ride height can be adjusted via a dashboard knob by more than 2 inches.
The factory top speed for the 6.9 was 140 miles per hour, however automotive curmudgeon, Brock Yates drove a U.S. spec car for 40 laps around Road Atlanta were he averaged 72 mph and claimed to see a buck fifty on the clock.
This '77 has a claimed 77K on its clock and appears in the photos to be nearly pristine. It comes in burgundy, a color dark enough to really show off the extensive brightwork, and a refreshing respite from the usual silver or brown which it seems the majority of W116 were sprayed. Things start become a little questionable when you move south of the equator as the car has been fitted with those nasty chrome fender lip covers that do more to imply rust than add to the car's beauty. Even more alarming, the wheels are generic flat-dish alloys, lacking even a three-pointed star on their centers to make up for their bland presentation. With so many cool factory rims - including the standard ones that came on the 6.9 - available, why would anyone choose these plain janes?
Inside it's a lot better, and the seller claims everything works right down (or up) to the sunroof. The MB Tex seats are rip and tear free and the walnut on the dash is still more burled than that guy who narrated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. All of the seats so modest signs of wear and age, but perhaps most egregiously, the front armrest has the wrinkled and nubby look of a stunted elephant's dinkus. That could be dealt with by simply folding it up and never speaking of it again. Last on the tour, the stereo has been upgraded to a modern CD playing variety, but for the full retro effect, you'd probably want to source out an old Becker or Blaupunkt to take its place.
The 6.9 lacked any real visual differentiation from the lessor W116 sedans aside from the trunk-mounted badge, which was an additional cost delete option. The U.S. versions additionally received beveled rubber caps extending their already massive chrome and rubber bumpers. None of those elements tend to stand up very well to the sun and the smog, so it's surprising to see them here looking kind of down, but at present, not out. Perhaps the claim of a garage life is the reason.
Mercedes offered the 6.9 to a discriminating few, and for 1977 only 462 discriminated here in the U.S. Those 462 needed to rich as the top 116 came with a price tag that ensured its exclusivity - more than three times that of the most expensive Cadillac of the time, the Seville. Today, they're rarer than an honest politician, and you may be hard pressed to find one in this nice of shape outside of an auction or museum.
The seller is most obviously aware of that and has set his asking price accordingly. He wants $16,000 to part with this über Benz and will throw in a bunch of yellowed old magazines to boot. Do you think that's a good price for this autobahn-burner? Or, is that too executive a price for this executive sedan?
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