Classic & Sports Car
April 1999
Best Ever Saloons

The shapely-yet-fearsome 300SEL 6.3 was replaced in 1975 with a car adding excruciating power to the W116 S-class style and structure. The bored-out 6834cc V8 powerplant was shared with the giant 600, gave 286bhp and propelled the car to 60mph in 7.4 secs, topping out at 140mph. Torque? A gravel-crushing 405lb ft.

Mercedes-Benz 6.9

Of course that didn't come cheaply: 22,000 to be precise. This meant that many were funded by taxpayers to ferry medal-adorned and feather-hatted bigwigs to meetings. But if private buyers could afford the price, they could also fund the petrol which burned at the rate of a gallon as often as every 10 miles. Then again, they paid for the fact that M-B didn't spare any expense, with self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension, dry-sump lubrication, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, three-speed auto 'box and power steering plus air conditioning, electric windows and central locking.

In just three years, 7780 of these Tarmac-munching dipsomaniacs were sold and left a tattoo of greatness on an impressive number of pollsters. Praise focuses on the combination of three factors: power, handling and refinement. Never before had a car of the 6.9's bulk and brute force handled as well or offered the same degree of comfort and space. Quite possibly Stuttgart's finest.

Reprinted from Classic & Sports Car, April 1999
Material provided by NJ Oliva II