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Travel to Brittany in the Mercedes 560 SEC: In the Gran Turismo in France

Hans Neubert
Travel to Brittany in a Mercedes 560 SEC
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U Our suitcases are stowed away on a fine mat made of dark blue velor. The lightweight aluminum trunk lid closes quietly - with a nasal 'click', snooty like a Hermès women's handbag. The Mercedes 560 SEC is ready to travel. Between us: Doesn't it already show the class difference at zero speed compared to everything else that was on the streets at the end of the 80s?

No awkwardly bent sheet metal, but elegant lines like a Riva Aquarama. No cellulite buttocks collapsing under the weight of the luggage, but a tight buttocks thanks to automatic leveling. No embarrassing asceticism of the then emerging muesli age, but pure splendor of equipment: electric belt feeders, electric rear blind, electric sunglasses holder. Well, the sunglasses holder is not included, but otherwise the Mercedes 560 SEC really does everything that otherwise has to be laboriously done by hand.

Mercedes 560 SEC once the most expensive car in Germany

Incidentally, connoisseurs say 'Seck' rather than 'Es-eh-zeh'. Because that's how it sounds elegantly like dry champagne. Refinement can of course also be expected from what was once the most expensive car in Germany. At least 146,490 marks had to be paid for the Mercedes 560 SEC in 1989; in 1991 it was already more than 155,000 marks. But at this price it was far from being fully equipped. The amusement called 'Electric roller blind for rear window', for example, cost 604.20 marks extra. It goes upstairs wonderfully arrogantly and protects us from looks from the narrow vans. We slide on the motorway towards France. It is 1,500 kilometers to Brittany. A piece of cake for the solid coupé. And a pleasure for the two people on board.

Unfortunately, this trip in the Mercedes 560 SEC is also our last. This is Mr. Lübke's fault. He terminated the garage rental contract - due to personal use. That means: The Mercedes 560 SEC, actually something like a national automotive sanctuary, has to give way to Mr. Lübke's Hyundai Matrix. That's a shame. And it's the end of my relationship with the blue Benz, because I don't want it to rot under a lantern. So it will be placed in good hands. But before that he will be driven across Europe one last time by good hands. It should be a farewell tour that Udo Juergens does notmore dignified. In general, dignity. At least she was given this car in her cradle free of charge.

V8 of the Mercedes 560 SEC develops 279 hp

This engine of the Mercedes 560 SEC alone: ​​From a displacement of 5,547 cm3, the Mercedes engineers got a relaxed 430 Newton meters at 3,750 rpm. The best prerequisite for lazy revolutions, even if modern diesel drivers only smile at such values ​​today. If you compromise slightly on dignity, you can even let out 279 hp at over 5,000 rpm. That is still enough to get caught in a radar trap just 300 meters after the Pforzheim Nord motorway service area. Crap.

At that time it was just enough to hold its own against the hereditary enemy in the form of the BMW twelve-cylinder with 300 hp. The performance of the Mercedes 560 SEC was almost the same, thanks to small tricks: The Stuttgart-based company had given its top model a shorter axle ratio. In addition, the front hood and trunk lid were made of aluminum in order to shed at least a handful of extra pounds.

Today this often causes cosmetic problems: because aluminum cannot rust, but it can corrode. The skin of our Mercedes 560 SEC is blooming in several places. Adorned like this, we roll across the border to France. The cruise control, a funny little stick to the left of the steering wheel, only needs a quick tip with your finger to push us across the Republique Française at 120 from now on. And because the back pinches after seven hours of driving, the air-operated lumbar support is simply adjusted a little. Even in the most expensive car in Germany it cost 575.70 marks extra - per seat, of course. Money well invested, the compressed air-powered system works perfectly even after 20 years.

The Mercedes 560 SEC is exotic in France

So after a short hotel stay we can manage the second stage without much effort . Thanks to the smooth power steering, the Mercedes 560 SEC can also be easily commanded by the young lady on board. Even refueling is easy: consumption drops to eleven liters at the French speed. Not a bad value when you consider that the thickness makes the globe rotate below you. Finally the time has come: We are finally blowing sea air and the smell of fresh crepes from the west. We at least imagine that with the crepes.

And so the Mercedes spends a large part of the next few days raiding the small country roads of Brittany and maneuvering its increasingly fat occupants from one creperie to the next . In Germany, a Mercedes 560 SEC has long been a rare type. But here it is downright exotic. Between the pseudo-futuristic Peugeot and bulging Renault, the elegant Benz stands out like a white bread box on a baguette shelf.

We see again and again from our Mercedes 560 SECthumbs up joyously. And meet fans like Pierre, the old fisherman down at the port of Le Conquet, one of the most westerly points in Brittany. He shines and even presses his bulbous nose against the side windows. Sure, the dark blue velor with the strange white stripes is not quite sure of taste for some, you might say in new German: slightly porn-like. But Pierre escapes an appreciative 'magnifique'. He is probably referring to this huge board made of root wood, which makes the interior so nice and cozy, but also somehow baroque. And that certainly consoled the first owner over the many hard plastic parts.

Bruno Sacco created the timeless coupé line

We buy a few cooked edible crabs from Pierre and set off - to some more romantic places on this coast. Who knows, maybe it will be the last time that the Mercedes 560 SEC can enjoy the French way of life so extensively. It will definitely be the last time that crab juice seeps from a leaky bag into the back seat.

While the Mercedes 560 SEC with its at least 1.8 tons is shuffling across picturesque bridges, crumbling streets and through sleepy towns, we thank the good Mercedes engineers once again: Bruno Sacco as the head of the department Stylistics and Werner Breitschwerdt as head of the car body division. The two had already presented a remarkable coupé when the first series was presented in 1981. Its basis was the sedan presented in 1979, with a floor pan shortened by only 8.5 centimeters.

Special features of the S-Class Coupés

At first glance, the face was different with its typical coupé front, which already adorned the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Allegedly, it was only shortly before completion that the decision was made against keeping the sedan's massive chrome grill on the Mercedes SEC. The door handles were also a coupé-specific solution. Your strangely shaped, spoiler-like frame should protect against dirt. Another special feature: the missing B-pillars. With the side windows down and the sunroof open, the SEC can therefore be ventilated almost like a convertible.

So we cruise along the coast in the Mercedes 560 SEC. The Becker Mexico Cassette wafts a touch of Alain Delon's 80s chanson 'Comme au cinema' into our ears. And when we roll down to the paradisiacal beach shortly before Saint-Eden, the SEC surprised us by coming up with a clever trick: It gets stuck in the fine sand so that it can calmly look out over the open Atlantic.

Drive slip regulation costs extra

An intermezzo that should definitely have been saved: because it once hadFirst owner paid an additional 3,186.30 marks for the traction control. An expensive mistake - unfortunately it cannot be switched off. For operation with snow chains, it can only be throttled in its effect with a switch. And so it reliably prevents the Mercedes 560 SEC from being driven out of the sand with a slight slip. We just have to try to get the big coupe back on the road without outside help. Fortunately, some flotsam lives up to its name: in the form of washed-up wood, it is actually very good for giving stuck Mercedes tires grip again. The rescue is successful, it has to be celebrated.

In Roscoff we leave the car with the star for a restaurant with a star. In 'Le Yachtman' we have Homard bleue served in a matching color. And watch as the Mercedes 560 SEC lets its diamond blue metallic-colored skin be caressed by the setting sun. He stands there reserved and elegant, and also a little cocky. Despite his 20 years, he remains a car for the Haute Volée. He carried us across Europe without any defects. He's got style, even with a load of crab juice in the seat pad. It's a Gran Turismo and a true Mercedes anyway. Who would have thought that something as mundane as a Hyundai Matrix could displace it. Another wistful drive home, then it says: Au revoir, big star cruiser, it was nice with you.


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