Before there were AMG versions of just about every Mercedes-Benz model, there were some standard-looking sleepers worthy of muscle-car (and iconic) status. One of them is the 450 SEL, 45 years old this year.
In spring of 1975 Mercedes-Benz introduced a new flagship for the W116 series, the 450 SEL 6.9. This high-performance saloon was one of the fastest vehicles at the time, with only very few sportscars able to reach higher speeds. These days, it’s a sought-after classic, and deservedly so.
“The 450 SEL 6.9 is a brand icon,” Patrik Gottwick says as the Head of ALL TIME STARS, Mercedes-Benz Classic’s own vehicle retailer. “Model series 116 vehicles have become very sought-after on the market, especially the ones with 6.9-litre M 100 engine. We have noticed a significant increase in demand over the past years and recent auction results show that the value of the 450 SEL 6.9 is on the up. The reasons for this being its levels of refined motoring, everyday qualities as a classic car and the very low production numbers of a mere 7 380 vehicles.”
The technical basis for the eight-cylinder engine with "plenty of displacement" stems from the legendary Mercedes-Benz 600 (W 100 model series). However, with the same displacement, for use in the 450 SEL its cylinder bore had been increased even further, from 103 millimetres to 107 millimetres. This resulted in a displacement of 6,834 cc.
The engine delivered a whopping 210 kW at 4 250 rpm and reached its maximum torque of 550 Nm at 3 000 rpm. Such a high torque allowed for the integration of a very “long” rear-axle ratio (2.65). This cut the engine speed and thus noise levels.
The 450 SEL was very, very fast for a luxury sedan. Its top speed was 225 km/h, a value that was even frequently exceeded during tests conducted by the specialist press. Furthermore, the nearly 2-tonne 450 SEL accelerated from zero to 100 kph in only 7.4 seconds!
As you would expect from a flagship Mercedes-Benz, comfort was also high on he agenda. Following on from the pneumatic suspension in the 300 SEL 6.3, the 450 SEL 6.9 was equipped with a hydropneumatic set-up, which included a level control system.
A total of 7 380 450 SEL 6.9 vehicles were produced in Sindelfingen between 1975 and 1980.