Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 (1975 – 1981) Review

Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 (1975 – 1981) At A Glance


+Immense performance, acres of interior room, massive road presence, unimpeachable build quality

-Huge thirst and running costs, parts prices for 6.9-specific items are eye watering

The 1972 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was a marvellous machine - a technical tour de force, and one that proved so impressive, it managed to win the European Car of The Year award. Something of a scoop for such a luxurious car. The top model had it all - a 4.5-litre V8 and the option of long-wheelbase, for plutocrats who needed lounging room. So, the arrival of the 450SEL 6.9 in 1974, the immediate aftermath of the first Energy Crisis, was something of a puzzle, even if it was the direct replacement for the much-missed old 280SE 6.3.

But the planning and development for the 6.9 could never have foreseen world events, and by the time the Middle Eastern oil reserves were being rationed out at increasingly high cost, it was heading for launch. The existence of the new 450SEL 6.9 was as much about Mercedes-Benz's pride, as it was to slake the demand for a super-fast, super-cool, super-capable saloon for world leaders. It set out to establish Mercedes-Benz as the builder of the world's best saloon in the light of strong opposition from the new Jaguar XJ12. The 6.9-litre V8 engine was lifted from the 600 limousine did the trick, along with self-levelling oleopneumatic suspension, and all that gave the game away visually was a discrete '6.9' badge on the bootlid. It was predictably expensive, but still sold in surprising numbers. Which means they are relatively affordable for today's enthusiast - but this cannot go on for much longer.