The Godfather of the "Fast Sedan": The 1978 450SEL 6.9



"6.9" (niiiice).


As this first-generation example shows, the Mercedes S-Class has been the standard of luxury flagship sedans since its inception. As the predecessor to the “fast luxury sedans” of today, such as the S63 and outgoing S65, the 6.9 was otherworldly and unique through its combination of market-topping luxury appointments and neck-snapping power and acceleration (for its time, at least).


This beautifully repainted example out of San Luis Opisbo, CA, which can be found here, is no exception. Sporting the aforementioned repaint in what appears to be Gray Blue Metallic (906), this car reportedly underwent a $35,000 restoration between 2015-2019 to bring it up to its present condition. The W116 was a complicated machine to begin with, but the dry sump 6.9-liter V8 in the flagship featured here upped the ante by adding hydropneumatic suspension and ABS (first year offered) to the mix. Couple that with a powerplant that touts 300bhp and a whopping 405 ft-lbs of torque, and it’s easy to see why both Niki Lauda and James Hunt each owned one in their heyday.


This particular example has a few things going for it beyond its condition: (1) it’s rare, only 1,816 US-spec 6.9’s were produced for the US market (2) the retrofitted European spec (headlights/bumpers) that have been added to this US-spec car really showcase the body lines well and make the original, oversized, US-spec bumpers look as ridiculous as they actually were at the time. (3) Finally, and the seller has seemed to overlook this in his ad, this car has a nice, new set of Michelin XWX tires fitted all around. If you know your vintage Mercedes’, you’ll know that this is a very rare and expensive set, to be sure. The Michelin XWX was the only radial tire which could be fitted on the fastest cars in the world in the 1970s; affording these high-speed vehicles outstanding road holding ability and remarkable grip. Michelin XWX tires featured construction designed to reach an incredible 186 mph top speed. They aren’t cheap, either. That’s almost $2k worth of rubber underneath a phenomenal-looking and rare super-sedan of the seventies.



We’d certainly like to see if the interior of this example matches the rest, but the seller hasn’t included any interior photos with the ad. The asking price of $53,000 is certainly at the top of the lagging W116 market, but this example seems to be about as well-sorted and well-appointed as any of its few remaining confederates still left here in North America.



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