Mercedes S-Class – history was born half a century ago

Mercedes S-Class – history was born half a century ago


Long before the S-Class was officially named, the brand Mercedes-Benz has earned a reputation for producing premium vehicles that combine luxury and comfort with an unparalleled level of safety.

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Adenauer and Skrzydlak

The direct family line of the S-Class begins immediately after the war, with the Mercedes-Benz 300 (W 186). Its premiere, after the completion of the first stage of German construction, marked the return of the Mercedes-Benz concern to the luxury car segment. Daimler-Benz AG presented its new luxury car with a six-cylinder inline engine in April 1951 at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main. The two-door Mercedes-Benz 300 S (W 188) appeared in October 1951 at the Salon de l’Automobile in Paris. The W 186 was replaced by the improved W 189 in 1957.

After the first Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, decided to use the car as a company car, the name “Adenauer-Mercedes” became a common nickname for the model.

The wings introduced in 1959 (220, 220 S and 220 SE of the W 111 series) got their nickname from the fin-shaped rear guards. The new generation S-Class represented a remarkable development in automotive history – for the first time. on the series car was released a body with curved parts designed by Béli Barényi.

The flagship model 300 SE (W 112) with air suspension and a new automatic transmission saw the light of day in 1961. Two years later it was joined by a version with a 10 cm longer wheelbase, providing additional legroom for rear passengers. .

In 1965, “samaras” gave way to the W108 / 109 limousines. In addition to the models with standard steel suspension springs, the 109 series (characterized by a 10 cm long wheelbase) was also offered with air suspension.

At the front of the range was the top variant 300 SEL 6.3, released in 1968, equipped with a powerful V8 engine directly from the Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine. In addition to exceptional comfort and a high-class finish, it offered performance of a sports car.

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New model series W 116 – wide engine range

The W 116 series replaced the W 108/109 series models. Initially, it was offered in three versions: 280 S, 280 SE and 350 SE. The 280 S and 280 SE models were powered by the 2.8-liter M 110 R6 engine, known from the W 114. The 350 SE was powered by the 3.5-liter V8 engine (M 116). A few months after its debut, a larger 4.5 liter V8 (M 117) was added to the offer.

In 1973, the 450 SEL and 350 SEL versions appeared on the market with a 10 cm longer wheelbase (from 286.5 cm to 296.5 cm). Body length increased from 496 cm to 506 cm. Additional centimeters are allowed to increase the amount of leg room for rear seat passengers. In 1974, the 280 SEL version was also introduced.

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes

“Sonderklasse” or “special class”

In limousine The 116 was the first to use an independent front suspension with two wishbones and torsion bars for stability, previously tested in the C 111 model. This allowed exceptional driving precision and significantly improved the level of active safety. The rear suspension of the 2.8- and 3.5-liter versions was custom-made and featured a design already successfully used on the W 114/115 and 350 SL (from 1971). Models with 4.5-liter units received a new version of the rear suspension and a system that prevents the car from “bumping” during acceleration and braking.

In the field of passive safety, the S-Class was at the forefront of engineering as well, with its integrated safety concept.

For example, the fuel tank was no longer placed near the rear belt, but on the rear axle. Inside, high safety was ensured by the smooth surfaces of the dashboard and the absorbent, four-spoke steering wheel with a soft mouth. The biggest change compared to the predecessor, however, was a more durable passenger compartment with a roof frame structure and reinforced pillars and doors.

Special wind deflectors on the A-pillars ensure good visibility. They shed water when it rained, keeping the side windows clear. There are also corner indicators, clearly visible even from the side, and wide taillights. Their ribbed profile is protected against dirt.

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class ft. Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class ft. Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class ft. Mercedes

Flag: 450 SEL 6.9

In May 1975, Mercedes-Benz presented the 450 SEL 6.9 – the new flagship of the S-Class range and a worthy successor to the limousine 300 SEL 6.3 (W 109). The 6.9-liter V8 engine, based on the 6.3-liter engine from its predecessor, produced 286 hp and a maximum torque of 549 Nm.

The hydropneumatic rear suspension and self-lift system – available for the first time in a Mercedes-Benz passenger car – ensured a high level of driving comfort.

The equipment list also included central locking, air conditioning and headlight wipers. Like its predecessor, the 450 SEL 6.9 was an immediate success, although it was more than twice as expensive as the 350 SE version. In total, 7,380 examples of the model were produced in 4.5 years.

300 SD – diesel in the luxury limousine class, implemented by American standards

In May 1978, the range of the 116 series was extended by another version – the 300 SD. Its debut was less impressive than the 450 SEL 6.9, despite the fact that both models were at different ends of the range. For the first time inside car history In this class, the S-Class was powered by a diesel engine. A 3-liter five-cylinder engine, commonly known as the 240 D 3.0 power source (80 hp), is installed. turbocharger produced 115 hp.

The development of this unusual version, available only in the United States and Canada, was a response to the increased fuel consumption standards in the United States. Corporate Average Fuel Economy Regulations, an idea of ​​President Carter’s administration, set average fuel consumption for the entire model range of a given manufacturer. By extending the offer to diesel versions – a more economical nature – it was possible to achieve results below the legal limit.

Braking and handling: ABS is a global innovation

An innovative anti-lock braking system (ABS) was introduced in the S-Class (W 116) from autumn 1978. Developed in collaboration with Bosch, it allowed the car to remain in control even in the event of sudden braking, significantly improving the level of operational safety .

The ABS market debut was considered a complete sensation.

Today, when this system is installed as standard even in small cars, it is a natural thing. At the time, however, it was a technological revolution.

S-class with special protection

Safety of a slightly different nature was provided by armored versions of the W116. The available technology has been modified based on the experience gained during the development of the 280 SEL 3.5 (W 108) armored model. In total, 272 armored models of the W 116 series with eight-cylinder engines (350 SE, 350 SEL, 450 SE, 450 SEL) were built for selected customer groups, including many government institutions in Europe and elsewhere. borders.

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Almost half a million S-Class (W 116)

The successor to the first S-Class – the W 126 – was presented in September 1979 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Production of subsequent versions of the W 116 was discontinued between April and September 1980. The last unit inspected at Sindelfingen was the 300 SD.

In total, 473,035 prototype units were produced. The most popular variant – 280 SE – was produced in the number of 150,593 units. In comparison, SEL 350 was produced in the number of 4,266 units, and 300 SD – for the North American market – 28,634 units.

The W 116 model has set completely new standards in the luxury car segment. “Sonderklasse, or S-Class”, as the name quickly became synonymous with luxury and acquired a special meaning – not only for the automotive industry.

Nowadays, in common language, it is accepted that if something is “S-class in its field”, it is better …

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes

Mercedes SW 116 classMercedes SW 116 class photo by Mercedes