21 August 2017

More than an old car #32: Mercedes-Benz W116 450SEL 6.9

Mercedes-Benz has been associated with the rich and famous, or 'towkays' in the local context. It has become so well-known even among the uninitiated--practically anyone can recognise the 3-pointed star. With the glut of modern models on our roads, older models are a treat to spot, especially when the one you are seeing is a 1979 W116 450SEL 6.9 model.

The 450SEL 6.9 is the high-performance top-of-the-line edition of the W116 series of Mercedes cars. Visually, it is indistinguishable from other W116 models other than a "6.9" badging at the rear. When it was released in 1974, it was touted as the flagship of Mercedes cars. It featured a unique suspension system that allowed the car to travel smoothly on rough terrain, and the car could be raised an additional 50mm to provide for better ground clearance. As seen in the picture, it had headlight wipers, a feature that would look rather strange today. The function was to remove dirt and grime from the car headlight, just like what a normal windscreen wiper does. As its name suggests, the car was powered by a 6834cc (6.9l) 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225km/h and an acceleration of 7.4 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.06m long and weighed 1935kg.

Production ended in 1981, with only 7380 made. This specimen has been imported from the UK as it still features UK plates. Beneath its unassuming brown paint a powerful beast lurks, waiting to be unleashed. I do not know whether it has been registered as of today, but having a variety of classic Mercedes cars on our roads is always better, given that the majority are the W123 models. Despite it being popular among diplomats and people in power, I believe many would overlook its existence. Do keep your eyes open for this rare gem!

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