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Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 driving report: The best on all roads

Hardy Mutschler
Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 driving report
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V from December 25th 800 to August 6th In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation existed. Despite protagonists such as Karl the Dicken, Widukind von Corvey and Ludwig the Child, it was never holy over the centuries, by no means Roman, astonishingly limited German and rarely rich. At least that is how it seems with some time lag, although it often only ensures that the good of the old days is glorified. But not with us. If we glorify something, it is the best: the best car in the world. With this title, the valued colleague Helmut Eicker crowned the Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 in the test in issue 21/1975. Which gives us a great opportunity to drive a six-and-nine and find out how good it is and how expectations of a best car have changed in four decades.

Every S-Class now has its own The W116 series, which was produced from August 1972 to August 1980, has reached the status and age in which mere presence alone gives cause for respect. But this is another number: a Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9. Someone who has seen a lot of the world since the spring of 1977 - 645,453 kilometers to be precise. Perhaps that's the most impressive thing about this S-Class: that it was built 40 years ago for the next 40 years.

The future can last longer

Or for longer. People are more concerned about the durability of cathedrals and empires than that of a Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9. Its driver's door falls into the anti-pop-open mortise lock with such a final force that it can no longer be built into lightweight aluminum bodies today. The portals keep the outside from the inside as protective as only drawbridges in castles threatened by attack can otherwise. In general, inside: The Mercedes 450 SEL dresses very blue and cozy; after all, more life-affirming colors were considered modern and at the same time leather - at least for the traditionalists' guild at Daimler-Benz - as something, well, bourgeois. The circles that a Mercedes 450 SEL moves sink into soft velor upholstery. And indeed, because to claim that the seating furniture resembles styrofoam trickling beanbags in terms of comfort and lateral support would not be entirely fair to styrofoam trickling beanbags.

But that, ladies and gentlemen, is all we can say about nagging . Otherwise there is oneS-Class in the age of a slowly aging settlement of flat roof bungalows terrific. One turn of the key and the eight cylinders - each one has about the displacement of a smart three-cylinder turbo - four-stroke going. The selector lever in the Mercedes 450 SEL rattles through the zigzag lane to 'D'. Now the automatic transmission developed by Mercedes for the 116 will be happy to choose from three stages (six-cylinder: four). Authoritarian and with very little interest in dissenting opinions - such as those of the driver. It was still enough.

Every meter kilogram

That is due to the force of the Displacement depth. At 1,000 revolutions, the V8 reaches a torque of 50 meter kilograms, that is 490.5 Nm in current currency. At 56 mkg (549 Nm) he rams the cross on the summit, which Mercedes six-cylinder petrol engines cannot achieve today despite turbo charging and direct injection. For the Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9, performance is still something elitist, which is explained by the relaxed handling of volumes. Due to the significantly improved crash safety - wide, high sills, safe doors, massive roof pillars, thickly padded on the inside - and probably all the chrome, the W116 is much heavier than its predecessor W108. The obvious solution would be to compensate for this with more power from more displacement. Well: So be it.

There is no need for a rocket science explanation of how it comes to 23.2 l /100 km test consumption. Before anyone does the math, we calculate that the S-UX 53 completely emptied the 96-liter tank exactly 1,560 times. Since 1977, the V8 has burned 18,750 liters of fuel in each cylinder, a total of 150,000 liters. Sounds like a lot at first. But not that much anymore, when you consider that so much super fits into three tanker trucks. And certainly not in view of the fact that the Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 has covered a distance that corresponds to 16 times around the world. Or once to the moon, turn around and back two thirds of the way.

Confident? No: the sovereign

Anyone who thinks that a car with such a drinking behavior can no longer be the best in the world today forgets that the six-and-nine in the early 1970s shouldn't be allowed to be either. Because of the oil crisis and the car-critical mood, Mercedes postponed the start of series production of the most powerful S-Class until the end of 1975.

The Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 is still impressive today with its safety and comfort. But what is more impressive is the sovereign sublimity, oh what, the natural arrogance known as the built-in right of way with which it moves through traffic. With each throttle, the star on the bonnet gently stretches towards the sky. The hydropneumatic suspension covers crater potholes. Handling? Should be somewhere, but can't be found right now. But it succeedsTo counter power oversteer appropriately with the mild precision of the steering. The turbo-doped diesel direct injection engines are now jostling on the autobahn - the Mercedes could still compete with most of them. But it is no longer worthwhile what best shows why it would no longer be the best car for many today. It is not because there are now play streets and speed limits, emissions regulations and standard consumption expectations, all of which do not quite fit with the self-image of the Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9. It's not because of its lack of infotainment frills or assistance frills.

Mercedes 450 SEL: Concorde on the road

In 1975 the Mercedes 450 SEL is one of the fastest modes of transport. There is still no ICE, flying is as expensive as it would be today. With 286 hp, the Mercedes has more power than a Porsche Turbo, is hardly slower, but much more comfortable. With it you can get the distance from Hamburg to Munich one, maybe two hours faster than with a Golf I or a Kadett C and drive for half an hour on the normal, 61 hp weaker, 25,486 DM cheaper 450 SEL. In 2015, Germany would rather celebrate fast internet than fast cars. In 1975, more real pace is still understood as progress. The six-nine had been on the market for five months when the Concorde took off on its first scheduled flight on January 21, 1976 at 12:40 p.m. She is called the 'Queen of the Skies'. The Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 is the Concorde of the street. A car whose role in yesterday there are no more analogies in the digital today.

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